JASEY V | Jasey V Diaries
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” – Oscar Wilde
DIASPORA - On 16 May an iconic Papua New Guinean departed this world for the next on the very day of his birth.
Moses Tau,or Moshanty as he was affectionately known to the nation of PNG, lived his life with no regrets and certainly breathed every word of Oscar Wilde’s quote right till the very end.
With a distinctive voice and tunes that latched onto listener’s brainwaves, Moses took to the stage, and graced our screens, with hits such as ‘Ito Paka Paka’, ‘Temarama’ and the all-time favourite ‘Helalo Une’.
Ask many from our island nation and we will tell you that Moses is a national treasure. For those of us Papua New Guineans that live abroad ‘Helalo Une’ has become a regular at our independence day celebrations and on our ‘homesick’ playlist.
That voice and those lyrics tend to bring home that little bit closer and ignite the inner Motuan in us that some of us are not even by blood.
Moses was a superstar. His stardom reached every corner of our nation, even spreading across the Pacific and beyond; evident from the tributes that have been shared on all social media platforms.
I have seen commentary from people in the Solomon Islands, Cook Islands and Fijian islands. Tributes have been given by members of all walks of life from prime ministers, to businessmen and ordinary people like myself.
The reach he had in our hearts transcended music. He represented PNG as a passionate ambassador at events such as the South Pacific Islands Pageant to the infamous Mardi Gras held annually in Sydney, Australia. He stood proud of being an advocate for unapologetically being himself, a voice for members of the LBGTI community.
Having met Moses on a few occasions, it is easy to understand the heartfelt tributes. With Moses or Moshanty, I should say you always felt like you had an instantaneous connection and had made a friend for life.
One the few occasions I was fortunate to meet “Aunty Moshanty” as he had told me to call him, I usually left his presence with a smile or laughing uncontrollably at something he had said that was incredibly ridiculous yet hilarious.
His zest for life and infectious humour touched many lives and I know for many he will always be Aunty Moshanty or Mama Mou as many have referred to him in the past few days.
In a country that is yet to join the world in decriminalising homosexuality and recognising the LGBTI community, Moses was a visionary. Certainly for me, as a young child growing up in PNG struggling with sexuality and gender issues. Moses put a face in the media that those of us ‘living in the shadows’ could relate to.
His attendance at the 2000 Mardi Gras in Sydney was an eye opener for many in PNG and one that stands out in my memory. We have a lot to thank him for because he started the conversations for the LGBTI community in our country.
Before Moses, it was virtually unheard of for a Papua New Guinean to have attended the parade. I am certain that there were probably already a few who had attended from PNG, however none with such great sass and diva-ness as Moses had, attending the event as the ‘Queen of the Pacific’ irrespective of the attacks made at him by the general public.
Moses in an interview with World News Australia in 2012 spoke of his struggles with being gay in PNG, how difficult it was and his feelings toward matters affecting the LGBTI community. I can attest that it was not easy then and still is not easy today.
An advocate for LGBTI rights, he stated that we are all just going about our lives trying to figure out what our message to the world is and what our story is. Moses certainly found his purpose and brought to the world his story with an incredible talent and voice. His music and the effects his music had on the lives of many show just how much of a force he was.
Moses loved PNG like no other and was a proud citizen. This love for his country and people can be seen in the interview with World News Australia, where he spoke of how many in the LGBTI community with the means to, had left the country because of the discrimination they faced but, for Moses leaving PNG was just not an option: “I can’t go. I love my country, this is my paradise”.
PNG has lost a gem that cannot be mined elsewhere and never again will our nation, nor the world, see anyone as talented, as entertaining, as humorous and as loving as Moses Tau.
Moses, you were a unique, beautiful and talented soul. You may have left this world but your legacy will live on forever through your music. You will always be part of PNG history.
Bamahuta, Aunty Moshanty, we will miss you!