Salatiel Suap and Joseph Lamangau - Oral History interview recorded on 31 March 2017 at Lavabat, New Ireland Province

Description

Mr Suap tells of his experience of being one of Aisoli Salin's student. He tells of how Aisoli Salin emphasised the importance of education.

Mr Lamangau tells of how he heard about Aisoli Salin when he was a student; he also found Aisoli's book 'Coast Watchers.'

Language

Interview

Warning: This site contains stories of war. Some of these interviews may include detailed and graphic descriptions of events and experiences that may be disturbing for some individuals.


Transcript:
[Interviewer]
Welcome Salatiel and Joseph to our interview today. We are now conducting another interview at Lavabat village where Aisoli Salin was born. This interview was done on the 31st of April (sic) 2017.
[Salatiel Suap]
My name is Salatiel Suap and I was once a student of Aisoli Salin. I was still schooling in Tatau when the school name was changed to Aisoli Salin Memorial School. Mr Salin was a teacher and this is his story. When he taught us back in the days, he always wanted us to become someone who's educated and skilful. He always had high expectations towards us. One of which is for us to learn and follow everything he taught.
In-relation to our history and education he always expects us to be a good, brilliant and outstanding among our families. So that one day we could work and provide for ourselves, as a result he did all his best to teach us everything he knows. Mr Salin knows a lot.
I remember him telling us that he was the first Papua New Guinean who went down to further his studies at Australia. At the time we were at school, he had two wives. One was older and her name was Wares while the other her name was Wamberis who was with him when they were at school. However, today the older one usually stays with him. In school he always makes sure that we take our studies and education seriously. We must concentrate on what is being taught, in English, mathematics and other things which we learnt when he was our teacher. One significant moment which I could not forget came about because of a boy. This boy hides and smokes tobacco and every time he finishes he would hide or tuck his smoking pipe beneath his lap lap. And this boy happens to be my desk mate. One day I couldn't bear the smell of tobacco on him anymore so I reported him to Aisoli Salin. Mr Salin than composed a poetry of the boy. And it goes something like this:
'Langi, Langi is no good
He smokes a big fire which is nogud
Which is nogud
If he does not stop
We will throw him into the hole of a crocodile'
This was one of the first poetry which we were taught. We would recite it every time including Langi whom the poetry was written on his behalf.
[Interviewer]
Could you say the poetry again but this time a bit slower and louder so I can listen to it properly?
'Langi, Langi is no good
He smoke a big pipe
Which is not good
If he does not stop
We will throw him into the hole of a crocodile'
We would say it every time we go out into the fields and it has become like our drill. Because Mr Aisoli Salin taught us very well many of us continued to high school. And today many of his students are now working with the government and the private companies. Most finally achieved their goals through his teachings. Everyone who are now working in the mine or other government offices owes their respect and gratitude towards this man's knowledge and doings. He is also just and very strict. Whenever a rule is broken he would attach a nail onto a cane and smack our buttocks. You must concentrate and never play around nor waste your time. This is just a brief detail about Aisoli Salin and what he does. Especially when we are playing and we don't notice him looking at us through the classroom louvres. That's when everyone become shock as he enters on sight.
He tells us to concentrate. ''I do not want you to play up.'' He places his eye glasses like this and talks to us. ''Look up here! Sit quietly'', he says.
That's why we are grateful to him because most of us are now company employees and we are working because of this man, Aisoli Salin.
He also tells us about his experience of the war's history and how he went to study in Australia with two others, a man from Sepik and Central (Papua). I think the Sepik man is Simon Simagun but I cannot remember the Central man's name since it's been a long time.
I have also forgotten some of the riddles he had taught us. So because of such teachers like him, I have worked in numerous companies at Lihir and here after this man taught me. It was because of him that I am an educated man and have worked in both companies and government sectors.
[Interviewer]
In which year did he teach you?
[Salatiel Suap]
In the year.
[Interviewer]
1900s
[Salatiel Suap]
I suppose it was 1957. 57.58. As I was born in 1954.
[Interviewer]
50s or 60s? must be 60s.
[Salatiel Suap]
Sorry.60s. So 1960, sorry. In 1960, I went to school in Tatau; I was a young child then. That school was started by Aisoli Salin and it is now called Aisoli Salin Memorial School because he was the founder. We were the pioneer students of that school. I was one of them- Salatiel Suat.
[Interviewer]
When he taught you. Did he mention the name of William Groves, a white man?
[Salatiel Suap]
He did tell us some stories of his experiences in Australia, when he was in school and when he returned to Papua New Guinea and his work.
He also contributed to formulating some laws which I think the government has passed and we are abiding by.
[Interviewer]
Thank you. Let's move over to Joseph.
[Joseph Lamangau]
Thank you, I am Joseph Lamangau and I am from Mapua but married to a woman from Simberi.
[Interviewer]
Where are you from?
[Joseph Lamangau]
I am from Mangavuro village, Mapua, near the Catholic mission area, That's where my village is.
I married my wife in 1977. She is late Aisoli Salin's niece. I hears about Aisoli Salin when I was in school. He was from Simberi. I read his story in the library, in a little book called 'Coastal Watchers.' That's where I knew about him. So after I completed schooling, I started working and remembered his story. This was his story about the Pacific war.
He had gone to school in Australia and when he returned, he stayed at Maragon. At about 1939 or so, there were some Japanese airplanes flying everywhere here. At that time he pretended to be sick and slept near the fireplace during daytime. Then he would write a report in his book. I also read in his book that an American plane came and attacked them.
He wrote these in short handwriting on a blackboard. When a plane flew past, he caught attention with it; so when the plan returned, he was signalled with a light and located. They picked him at the reef, blindfolded him and took him away to Manus. He was interviewed at Manus where he told stories of what he had seen and after he returned the Japanese were killed.
I got married in 1977 to his niece. We had lived in Bougainville before we transferred to Rabaul and when we later moved to New Ireland he had left for UPNG where his other book was written. That was when I came to know him personally, when he returned home and I picked him and we took care of him until his transport came to pick him. He told my wife and I that he had gone to write a book and there he told the professors not to launch or release the book until he was buried. I think that was in the year 1985 or 86 when he returned. So that was the time I got to meet and know him in person. And when he passed on we were already there at home.
So this is my brief story about him and the time I got to know him was after his return from UPNG after his interview for his book which was about the Pacific war.
[Interviewer]
Was he alone then or with others when writing the book?
[Joseph Lamangau]
I don't know. When he was picked from the airport and brought to our house, it was just him who was brought.
[Interviewer]
Do you remember the year correctly?
[Joseph Lamangau]
Yeah
[Interviewer]
Did you say 1986?
[Joseph Lamangau]
I transferred from Rabaul in 1984 so it must have been sometime between .
I left my job in. it's sometime between 1984 and 85, or 86 or 87, about that time.
Alfred knows about the year he came back from UPNG.
So that's my brief story to help you with the history of Aisoli Salin.
[Interviewer]
What did you notice about his personality?
How did he act? Since he had gone to school in Australia. Did he behave like the whites or like us?
That's if you still can recall.
[Joseph Lamangau]
I noticed that as a teacher he worked very well like the whiteman had taught him so we admired him and wanted to be like him. He taught us English and he wanted us to be like him. So I saw him as a good teacher. He explained things well so that it was clear to us. He showed that he was one of the firsts to be educated in Australia.
His spoken English was unlike what we speak today. He spoke in such English but we understood him.
So his work was very good as a teacher and as a person.
[Interviewer]
Thank you.
When he taught you then, he did not tell you as that was in the late 60s. And in the 50s he was a member of the legislative government. Did he talk about this in the classroom? Or he was only busy with teaching.
[Salatiel Suap]
At that time he told us things I cannot recall now but about what you just said, he did tell stories about that.
The things that I can recall are the ones I have shared but there are things I do not remember now.
I know that Sepik man he went with to Australia; he is Simon Simagun but the Central one I do not know his name, I've forgotten. So I only know of these three being the first Papua New Guineans to go for study in Australia. So he was one of those first people from Papua New Guinea to Australia, I think it was in Melbourne and they were taught in English. When they returned they taught some people from home at Utu.
[Interviewer]
OK, thank you both Joseph and Salatiel. Thank you for your time.
[Salatiel and Joseph]
Thank you.
Thank you.

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Family Relationships

Interviewee

Salatiel Suap
Joseph Lamangau

Interviewee Gender

Interviewers

Interview Date

31/03/2017

Interview Duration

00:19:51:00

Interview Translator


Rights Holder

Deakin University
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike licence

Files

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Citation

“Salatiel Suap and Joseph Lamangau - Oral History interview recorded on 31 March 2017 at Lavabat, New Ireland Province,” Voices from the War, accessed October 23, 2018, http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/items/show/391.

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