MY father arrived in Port Moresby in torn short pants with not a single penny in his pocket but full of hope and determination for what lay ahead of him.
He also came with a dream.
My father came from a line of great dreamers. It was said that both my paternal grandmother and grandfather foretold the time of their passing through their dreams.
My grandfather, I was told, was not particularly fond of the hornbill because it had some sort of connection to his death.
My paternal grandmother told her family that if she gave birth to a male child she would die. But if the baby died, she would live. As it turned out, she died a week after giving birth to my father.
With such a background, my father is no ordinary dreamer. When he dreams about something or someone, we take heed of the messages that lie within them.
In the same vein, my mother told me that her mother, after chewing and swallowing the bark of a special tree, was able to use her sixth sense to clearly see the spirits of people who are about to die and would make pronouncements of their deaths to her family beforehand.
My father’s difficult journey to Port Moresby is a testament to his perseverance in pursuing his dream for a better life for himself and the family he intended to create. He was determined that, through his children, he would turn his own failure in education into success. And he was relentless in pursuit of that dream.
I was therefore brought up strictly and told to focus only on my education and nothing else – which meant that during my school life I was disciplined and reprimanded whenever necessary.
As a consequence, I established a standard and a reputation that I had to live up to. Although it created pressure on me at a very young age, it eventually became part of me and underpinned my endeavours to be the best both in my academic performance and social conduct.
My father’s dream became my people’s dream when I realised that I was one of the very few individuals from my village who had received a substantial education.
When that realisation became more pronounced, I made every effort to ensure I became my parents’ and my people’s champion. Their dream became my dream: to create a brighter future for all of us.
Even now, at his advanced age, my father remains determined to see his dream of having all his kids get an education come true. My two younger siblings are continuing their education. At the time of writing, one is in Grade 12 at Caritas Secondary School while the ‘baby’ is in Grade 3 at New Erima Primary School.
My mother also embraced my father’s dream and did everything she could to make it a reality. She started off marketing boiled eggs but, when that was not profitable, sold candies, buns and cordials from our house to make money to support my sister and me in our education.
Her efforts prepared me well to take on the task that currently occupies me within the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council (CIMC) - an independent body established by the government of Papua New Guinea in 1998 to facilitate dialogue between the government and non-state actors for the purpose of policy development.
Initially, my passion in pursuing issues associated with the informal economy in PNG seemed isolated. However, as time went by, it became a part of me as a person, a part of family, community, society and nation.
I came to a point where I concluded that the informal economy is part of who we are as Papua New Guineans. For so many people like me, it is interwoven into our lives.
Ignoring or neglecting the informal economy can only be done at the expense of the nation’s prosperity.
If my mother had not ventured into the informal economy, I would not have made it to where I am now: fighting for justice for those people in the informal economy by urging the government to recognise their plight and their rights. This has become my lifelong ambition and dream.
My father reminds me in many ways of God. God is a being with an unchanging character and an unwavering dream. Once He sets out to accomplish something He never gives up until He accomplishes it. In a lot of ways, my father possesses that tenacious characteristic.
This could explain why, when I encouraged him to quit work, he asked me if I was prepared to take care of my two younger siblings when he retired. His hope was that once my sister and I were able to get good jobs, we would support our younger siblings.
However, he reckons that we are not able to do that because we are now both married and have so much on our plates. Although I disagree with him, I concede to his view. Having to pay for the mortgage and take care of my wife and kids as well as the rest of my family is a tough ask.
When my father first arrived in Port Moresby in 1977, he lived with one of his brothers in a boi haus (servant’s quarters). At the time, his brother was working with Monier, a company which manufactured construction and building materials.
Facilitated by his brother, my father obtained employment as a casual employee at Monier for six months. After that he was laid off and immediately began searching for another, hopefully permanent, job.
During that period he had a dream in which a white man offered him a job.
Shortly after that dream, when he was on his way to town one day, he met one of his friends who was a driver with Morobe Transport (now Fletcher Morobe).
His friend offered him a ride and, just as they were about to exit the compound gate, Peter Wix, one of the managers at Monier, saw him.
Mr Wix had been impressed by my father’s work ethic during his short stint with the company and offered him a job in the pipe section. My father could not believe his luck and gladly accepted the offer. He started work the very next day.
As he drove out with his friend, it dawned on him that what had just happened was exactly what he had foreseen in his dream.
My father is a true blue collar worker. From the moment he accepted the offer to return to work with Monier as a welder in the pipe section, he has never looked back. He has been a one-company man all his life.
During 38 years of service he has worked in various capacities in various sections. He spent much of the first 15 years as a leading hand in building fibreglass dinghies and water tanks.
Because of health issues, he then moved back to the pipe section where the working environment was less dusty. There, he worked as a pipe spinner, which involved him and his colleagues removing the concrete pipes from their moulds after they came out of the boiler.
Towards the twilight of his career, and until he was made redundant in June 2015,he took on a much lighter role patching broken pipes. During those 38 years he saw several changes in the management and ownership of the company, the most recent of which was in 2003 when the Constantino Group of Companies acquired Monier from the Steamships Group.
My father has always told me that patience and loyalty are key virtues to a successful life no matter how low in terms of position or pay a job may be.
One thing he said that sticks in my mind is how one should treat the very first pay received. He said that how one uses their first pay will determine what they will do with the pay they receive throughout their working life.
If one uses the money to go drinking or clubbing, then they will go on doing that for the rest of their working life, even when they are married. I have always accepted that wisdom because I can see what has happened to most of my friends who have gone down that other road.
As I grew up, I craved to go with my father to his workplace. Worried that his boss may reprimand him, he always discouraged me and told me to stay at home.
I began to yearn to follow my father to his workplace, especially at weekends. When it rained, I sat in the house wondering what my father was up to while it was raining. Given that we were living in the company compound only a short walk from his workplace, I would be tempted to go and see him, but did not out of fear he would be cross with me.
My father was a brilliant man even though he was limited by his lack of education. This did not hinder him from doing some of the things I considered odd.
Even today, as an educated person, I consider his ideas extraordinary. He was always driven by the desire to maximise his small income for the sake of our education. So he was always on the lookout for opportunities. He invested money with the former Investment Corporation and took out insurance with Kwila Insurance.
Seeing my parents struggle made me determined to pursue a career in management or labour rights. I envisaged myself being a company manager doing everything to protect the rights of workers like my father, rewarding them for long hours of work during the weekends and providing decent accommodation for them and their families.
Growing up, my life was coloured blue. As I stepped deeper into my father’s world I began to discover nothing but sweat and determination. The air I breathed was made heavy by the diesel odour that permeated from the pipe moulds, from my father’s clothing and my father’s and his colleagues’ flesh. I would go home not disgusted by its smell but feeling a sense of peace.
In my father’s world, I saw nothing but men who would do anything to make sure they put food on the table for their families. Men who had dreams just like me, but who would rather trade that for the sake of their families. Through that experience my father became my motivation and my true blue hero.
My father, like my mother, is a Christian. For many years now, they have practised their faith within the walls of our house and not in the hallway of the church.
Nowadays, my mother is frail and does not like to move around a lot, while my father does not seem interested or ready to be welcomed back into the church after a long self-exile. My parents don’t pray much and rarely do we share biblical stories which used to be the norm in our family when I was growing up.
My wanting to share something from the bible frequently leads to wars of words between my parents. Often caught in the middle, I find myself trying to bring some sense and control into the situation.
When one of my parents shows interest or tries to explain something, the other quickly become judgmental and criticises. This not only puts me off but discourages them from pursuing and building their own faith.
Regardless, in the midst of this tempest, I find the sincerity in their faith a beacon of light in my search for the truth. Furthermore, the experiences we shared together at the church when I was a kid are some of the best and most vivid memories of my life. A visit to the old church in Korobosea-Gabutu still brings back a lot of those wonderful memories.
My decision to seek God was a direct result of my experience with my parents. Clinging to them and following their footsteps in their walk of faith during my childhood built a strong foundation which would, in later years, lead me to seek a much deeper understanding of the truth.
My frequent reminiscing about those experiences leads me to ask them why they no longer attend Sunday church service.
Initially, they blamed each other for turning away from church and distancing themselves from pursuing their faith. For each of them there is no point in repenting when the other remains unrepentant. My father believes, particularly, that this creates a volatile environment for building one’s faith because there is potential for differences and clashes to arise when one is outside of God’s grace. Thus he reckons that both will have to make a real commitment in order for both of them to go back and pursue their faith in church.
However, I get the feeling that the more they wait, the chances are that they may never go back to God. As a son, I feel it’s my responsibility to help them find their way back. I can’t bear to see the walls of my heaven in tatters.
As a Unificationist subscribing to the Divine Principle, I know that family is the cornerstone of God’s work of salvation for mankind. Therefore, I know that building the Kingdom of God on Earth and in Heaven starts with my family. Yet I know that the journey will not be easy and will require me to show them the way rather than merely telling them.
One of the things that my parents dislike is seeing churchgoers doing things that are contrary to what they are expected to do as Christians. My parents are not pretenders and don’t like pretenders. They really do hate the gossip that circulates throughout the congregation.
Even worse for them is the sight of church leaders and clergymen living a double life. To my parents, one should be sincere and humble with their faith rather than merely acting out one’s faith in public because there is no way one can avoid the all-seeing eye of God and subsequently, His wrath if he or she is just pretending for whatever reasons known only to themselves.
Furthermore, my parents’ church, like the other older churches, has experienced a great deal of fragmentation and division in its history as disgruntled leaders break away to establish their own churches, thereby dividing the congregation into small sects.
This is another factor discouraging my parents from taking an active interest in the church. So now my mother attends Sunday services whenever she feels like it while my father spends most of his Sundays somewhere else aside from the church.
Yet, deep down, I can see that they are both conscious of their faith. Their kindness, generosity and unconditional love and sacrifice towards us, their children, and those they know indicates that they still revere God.
Even when they get into a war of words over something, they never take it beyond their limits. What must be said must be said, but it must be said within established parameters.
This is another indication that my parents are honest about their feelings and thoughts concerning certain aspects of their life. Their conscience is pure, even though their intentions maybe misunderstood at first.
I have often found myself in the crossfire of their disagreements and have hit back at them. But when things cool off, commonsense usually prevails. That’s when I realise my mistakes and always try to find a way to make amends - although it is not easy to do that, especially when it concerns your parents.
My mother is especially good at nagging if she’s not happy with someone while my dad expresses his dissatisfaction in a subtle way, by being silent. His silence and my mother’s constant nagging are frequently irritating and difficult to bear.
My parents’ journey in pursuing their faith brings to light the difficult truth that many churches struggle with nowadays. Most are no longer able to lead people away from the lures of the secular world. People nowadays feel lost, even when deep down they know that God exists. Yet the difficulties of life lead people astray as the answers provided by churches are insufficient to help them find a purpose in their lives.
Sadly, secularism is rife within churches and is one of the main reasons why churches and Christianity as a religion are becoming directionless. The current tirades against Christianity regarding its stance on sensitive and critical social issues such as same sex marriage is indicative of how weak Christianity has become. Yet my own personal experience indicates that all is not lost if Christians re-connect with the founding spirit of Christianity as ingrained in John 3:16.
Like Christ, Christians must be prepared to embrace all people of the world with love and show them the truth. Instead, what we have are countless sects, denominations and ministries fighting against each other for dominance while rebuking other religions and their faith. Is this what Christ our lord would have wanted us to do? The answer is no.
Feeling dissatisfied with the entire quagmire surrounding Christianity I stumbled upon the Divine Principle.
The Divine Principle revealed by Reverend Dr Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, gave me the answers that I was looking for. Through the Divine Principle I realised that, as Christians, it is important that one should practice his or her faith in humility and love for others.
Even when we find that our voice is been overtaken by the loudness of other religions or the secular world, we should always remain steadfast in our belief, knowing too well that, even in silence, our faith endures. Here, in one of the most controversial religious figures of our time, I found a truth that confronts the often flawed and misleading headwind thoughts of our time: humanism.
In his teaching, encapsulated in the Divine Principle, Reverend Moon taught that men who have deviated from God because of the fall of Adam and Eve should denounce everything associated with the world and take after God by living a public-centered and selfless life for the good of all humanity.
More profound than that is the need for all mankind who have fallen short of the glory of God to change their blood lineage and be grafted back to God’s lineage through the Holy Marriage Blessings.
To Reverend Moon, of love, life and lineage, none is more important than lineage, because without it, love and life will not exist. To put it simply: through Reverend Moon’s teaching I found God and a life beyond my own.
According to my father’s recollection, the Evangelical Church of Papua New Guinea (ECPNG) was born out of the Asian Pacific Christian Mission and first went into the Southern Highlands Province in Kutubu during the 1950s and later made its way into Erave.
The church then expanded into Sembirigi and, finally, into Tiri Village around the 1960s. The Catholic Church also came into Erave around the same time and established one of the largest Catholic seminaries in PNG at that time. The seminary attracted students and budding theologians from all over the country and from other Pacific island countries.
My father was introduced to the ECPNG by his father who was one of the earliest converts of the church from our village. Since then my father was an active churchgoer until he decided to depart from his faith around the early 1990s.
When he arrived in Port Moresby, he joined the ECPNG Church chapter in Koki. When my mother came down to Port Moresby to be with my father, she accompanied my father to Koki Church for Sunday service.
During that time there were only two ECPNG church chapters in Port Moresby. Both the Koki and Hohola churches had a mixture of congregations from Erave, Western and Southern Highlands Provinces including people from the newly established Hela Province.
After some time, the Gerehu Church was built and used to host combined fellowship during special events like Easter and Christmas. As the church grew, so too did the bickering and disagreements between various members of the congregation.
This led to the Erave congregation eventually breaking away to start their own ECPNG church at Kaugere. It was there that I would come to know the ECPNG Church and develop a yearning to seek the truth about God, the bible and the meaning of life.
Nevertheless, it was not Kaugere that would elevate my spiritual hunger and make me long to seek after God. That honour would go to the Gerehu ECPNG Church. The church buildings and the baptism that I saw taking place on one Sunday afternoon at the Gerehu Church remain one of my most vivid memories of the place. Ever since that moment I have always liked to go to Gerehu Church for combined fellowship.
The atmosphere around those times at Gerehu Church aroused a wonderful sensation of being in the presence of God. It was like standing at the edge of a cliff about to fall down into Heaven, enraptured by God’s power.
Everywhere I looked, I saw glimpses of God’s omnipresence and omnipotence. The wind caressing my face, the cool morning breeze, the bright moonlight that illuminated the dark corner of our garden or the trees dancing in the wind were bits and pieces of God’s unlimited love.
However, the greatest slice of heaven I experienced was following my parent’s every step. It was heaven when I sat in the bus with both my parents sitting on either side of me. It was heaven when it rained in the night and I was cuddled up in my parents’ arms.
I imagined that the tiny stream flowing through my parent’s garden was the river that flowed through the wonders of the Garden of Eden. Even today I can sense that these magical sensations are still active somewhere in the corner of my mind - a reminder of the infinite beauty of my childhood innocence.
That could explain why, even today, I have always liked going to Gerehu Church whenever there is a combined church service to try and rekindle and reconnect with some of those glorious spiritual experiences of the past.
I was born at the 3 Mile General Hospital in Port Moresby on 24 April 1985 as the eldest son of five children to Wenogo Busa of the Tipurupeke Clan and Kilipiwande Tewei of the Tokolopau Clan.
One of my sisters, named Lukuwande or Ruth, passed away several months after she was born. She is survived by her twin sister. So, while there are four of us physically present in our family, spiritually there are five of us.
My father, as I said, is a somewhat prolific dreamer and his dreams often come true. So much so that when he has a bad dream or nightmare it usually sends chills down our spines.
He would wake up in the morning and tell us about his dreams. From the tone of his voice and his facial expression, we could deduce whether the dream foretold something good or bad.
My father had a dream heralding my birth. In it, my father was climbing up a red coloured hill when, from behind the hill, he heard people wailing and screaming in agony.
In the midst of this despair he heard a strange sound. It was as if something was coming to take him away. He felt as if death was approaching him. Caught in a state of confusion and panic, he somehow ended up meeting his dead sister who scolded him for coming and quickly advised him to head back to where he came from.
Still feeling lost and confused, he turned back and found himself riding on a bike. He rode until he came to a certain place. There, just as he took off an axe that was tied to his waist and prepared to dispose of it, an uncle of mine who had passed away several years before appeared. He told my father not to throw the axe away because it belonged to him.
My father told my mother that the dream concerned my birth and that he foresaw two possible scenarios. One was that he could have died, but came back to life thanks to his dead sister.
The other was that the unborn child in my mother’s womb would have died if he threw the axe away, but, thanks to my uncle, the baby would survive. Furthermore, he was convinced that the unborn child in my mother’s womb was going to be a male child.
In our custom, a father’s dream about an axe usually symbolises a male child. A dream about a tanget, a purple greenish plant whose leaves are normally used to cover the front and back part of our womenfolk during traditional times or singsings, symbolises a baby girl.
The strongest indication that my father’s interpretation of this dream was a revelation to him was when one of my maternal grandaunts told my father to name me after my late paternal grandfather. In a previous dream, my father had acquired the inspiration that he should name me after his late father. So when my grandaunt asked him to name me after my paternal father, he did not hesitate and gladly did so.
So the name ‘Busa’ is my paternal grandfather’s name. My middle name, ‘Jeremiah’ symbolises my allegiance to God and his calling in my life.
It was the prophet Jeremiah who made the famous prophecy that was recorded in Jeremiah 1:4-5 ‘’Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you. I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
So my full name, Busa Jeremiah Wenogo, represents three generations and three dimensions of time: the past, present and future of my lifetime.
Busa, my grandfather’s name represents the past in my life. He represents God according to the Divine Principle of Reverend Dr Sun Myung Moon. Wenogo is my father’s name and represents the present in my life. He stands in the position of parent to me. Jeremiah, my middle name, represents me and the future that is yet to be unveiled.
My father has never stopped dreaming about me, especially at critical junctures in my life. Before I started my schooling he had a dream in which he saw me standing on one side of a river trying to cross over to the other side. After a while I jumped into the river and began to swim against the flowing current. People who had gathered alongside the river screamed and barracked my name, urging me along until I got to the other side where my father grabbed hold of me
From this dream my father got the inspiration that I should go to school so that I could excel and then one day become someone influential. He also felt that, if he did not put me in school, I would end up on the streets indulging in bad habits that would get me into trouble.
My father’s dreaming and dreams have been an important and integral part of my life’s progress.
The is Chapter 2 of an autobiographical memoir which Busa is preparing for publication