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Government will start the Kumul Satellite-One Project

Finance and National Planning Minister Rainbo Paita says the Government will start the Kumul Satellite-One Project (KSOP) next year to enable the country to own a satellite.

Paita described KSOP as “transformative”, stating that it would contribute towards addressing some of Papua New Guinea’s development challenges, including improving education, health and communication services.

He said clearance for KSOP to come online was given by the State solicitor and the information communications technology committee that was established under the digital transformation bill.

“KSOP is a project that’s been on the table for quite some time,” Paita said.
“When I was the (Information) Communications (Technology) minister, I initiated discussions on the country venturing into owning its own satellite.

“The Cabinet approved for us to acquire the satellite and I was able to travel to Germany at the time and a vendor (OHB) came forward with technical capacity and could provide the satellite for us.

“This year, I’ve put a lot of emphasis onto it and we picked it up now.”
He said in 2019, the cost of the project was around K1.4 billion where a financing company from Germany, KfW, stepped forward to help PNG in terms of procuring and financing the project. Paita said at the time of negotiations that the plan was to build a customised satellite in Germany and would be launched by Space-X.
He said once the country had a satellite of its own:

  • THE cost of communication would be greatly reduced;
  • ELECTRONIC education and health initiatives could be achieved anywhere;
  • PNG waters could be monitored for illegal fishing;
  • THE army and police could address law and order issues;
  • ILLEGAL forestry and land use could be monitored; and,
  • ELECTRONIC voting would be enabled.

Budget not for all, says O’Neill

December 5, 2022The NationalMain Stories
FORMER prime minister Peter O’Neill says budget support in lowering income tax is welcome, but it will only benefit those working.

Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey recently announced that all employees earning more than K20,000 per year would save K63 on their taxes every fortnight from next month.
This was part of the Government’s K590 million relief package highlighted in Budget 2023.

O’Neill said the majority of Papua New Guineans were unemployed and relied on subsistence farming with a large number of those in urban areas also in the informal sector.

During budget debate in Parliament on Friday, O’Neill said: “As the cost of living continues to increase, families are suffering. They cannot put food on the table.

“Government has created four new ministries in Agriculture (Livestock, Coffee and Oil Palm), and Government has announced that we will be the food bowl of the world.
“The Budget does not support that statement.
“And we are unable to feed ourselves as we become more import dependent.
“Funds should be made available to support subsistence agriculture and commodity price stabilisation. Fund the price controller’s office properly.”

Ialibu-Pangia MP O’Neill said instead of a spending big and borrowing even bigger for the budget, “we should create the future we all deserve with conservative recurrent spending, reducing debt levels and invest in jobs, health, education, and infrastructure”.
“Instead of constant blackouts and no access to power, let’s invest in clean energy to connect 70 per cent of our people to electricity.

“We need a Budget that invests more in basic healthcare and stops the shortage of medicines, equipment and health professionals in rural and urban aid posts, healthcare centres and hospitals,” he said.
“We need a budget that returns to free education for all our children and a budget that skills and develops our school leavers.

“We need to get to work building our economy so that it works for all our people, not the other way around.”
O’Neill said the Opposition was disappointed in Budget 2023 and in the now five consecutive big spending, big debt and deficit budgets. He said the Budget had no hope for businesses, families and young people.

“My team (Opposition side) and I are frustrated at the lack of local know-how and intelligence in these Budgets and we only hope the Government returns to the basics and delivers to the people the future we all deserve.”

Paita: PNG to have own satellite

UPNG Journalism Student

MINISTER for Finance and National Planning, Rainbo Paita has announced that the government is looking at setting up its own satellite in the future.

Minister Paita said this will see PNG for the first time have its own satellite under the Kumul Satellite One program. 

Paita said he initiated this project when he was a communication minister and so far, the progress looks promising with the help of the current Communication Minister, Timothy Masiu.

“The satellite will be built in Germany and launched by a German company,” Minister Paita said.     

He said the Satellite will help the military, police, customs to deal with the issues like border security, illegal fishing and logging, cyber security and will also help in providing avenue for electronic health and voting.

Minister Paita said that the German company is being made aware of the project and studies has been going on by specific specialized professionals for the project to start. 

He said the project is expected to be rolled out at a cost of about K1.4 billion budget.

Paita announced this last Friday in a press conference.

Association supports governor’s commitment to develop coffee sector

EASTERN Highlands Governor Simon Sia’s commitment to develop the coffee industry is a step in the right direction, according to the Farmers and Settlers Association.

Association president Wilson Thompson said now was the time to see results in the industry. “The K10 million for the coffee industry and one million seedlings starting next year is good,” Thompson said.

“The governor would need a small committee comprising the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Coffee Industry Corporation, division of primary industries, Office of the (Eastern Highlands) Governor and two independent representatives to manage the programme.”
He said the coffee ministry should clarify:

  • STRATEGIES and action plan to increase production and productivity in each province;
  • ACTION plan on coffee rust and coffee berry borer; and,
  • EXPLANATION on the collection and use of research and extension levy for decades including its financial and annual reports that is not presented for decades. “We need a small committee to deal with the programme and implementation.

Otherwise, we might have another scam like price support, coffee development proposals and Rumbia Coffee again,” Thompson said

Perdana Menteri West Papua Mengumumkan 7 Gubernur di Wilayah Negara Republik West Papua

Sejak 1 Desember 2022, Gubernur Negara Bagian West Papua telah diumumkan. Selanjutnya rakyat Papua harus membangun Kantor Gubernur mereka.
(United liberation Movement for West Papua)
1 Desember 2022, Presiden Sementara West Papua-ULMWP, Hon. Benny Wenda telah mengumumkan Struktur Pemerintah West Papua di Bawah Kepala pemerintahan Rev. Edison Waromi, S.H.
Pengumuman kepala Pemerintahan di 7 Wilayah West Papua ini berdasarkan Surat Keputusan (SK) NO:01/PM/PRO_GOV/X/2022, Oleh Perdana Menteri Pemerintah sementara-ULMWP, Tentang Pengangkatan dan Pembentukan Kepala Pemerintahan Wilayah, yang telah di tetapkan pada tanggal, 28 Oktober 2022, di Port Numbay Jayapura-West Papua.
Pengumuman ini telah terjadi saat Seluruh Rakyat bangsa West Papua memperingati 61 tahun Manifesto politik kemerdekaan bangsa West Papua dan HUT Ke-2 tahun Pemerintah sementara-ULMWP.
Berikut 7 Kepala Pemerintahan di 7 Wilayah Kedaulatan Bangsa West Papua:
1. Gubernur Wilayah MAMTA
2. Gubernur Wilayah SAIRERI
3. Gubernur Wilayah DOMBERAY
4. Gubernur Wilayah BOMBERAY
5. Gubernur Wilayah ANIM-HA
6. Gubernur Wilayah LA-PAGO
7. Gubernur Wilayah MEE-PAGO
Berdasarkan Surat Keputusan (SK) Perdana Menteri Pemerintah sementara-ULMWP, sebagai Wakil Eksekutive Counchil Wilayah, Gubernur di beri Wewenang dan Kekuasaan atas penyelenggaraan Pemerintah wilayah sesuai Konstitusi dan bertanggungjawab langsung kepada Perdana Menteri.
1. Ketua West Papua Counchil
2. Presiden Sementara West Papua-ULMWP
Dok. Laporan Tertulis Penetapan dan Pembentukan Kepala Pemerintahan di 7 Wilayah West Papua :
Pidato Kepresidenan Pemerintah sementara-ULMWP, Oleh Presiden Sementara Hon. Benny Wenda 1 Desember 2022.
For More Information:

Vanuatu: Hackers strand Pacific island government for over a week

All government systems are down in Vanuatu after a suspected ransomware attack
By Frances Mao
BBC News

Vanuatu's government has been knocked offline for more than 11 days after a suspected cyber-attack on servers in the country.

The hack has disabled the websites of the Pacific island's parliament, police and prime minister's office.

It has also taken down the email system, intranet and online databases of schools, hospitals and other emergency services as well as all government services and departments.

The shutdown has left the nation's population - about 315,000 people living across several islands - scrambling to carry out basic tasks like paying tax, invoicing bills and getting licences and travel visas.

Essentially anyone with a email or domain has been affected, locals told the BBC.


"Anyone who tried to do anything with the government knew the system was down," said Ginny Stein, an Australian journalist and communications consultant who spent years living in Port Vila, and left on Monday.

"My experience of trying to check out of the country... well they just couldn't operate. They were really struggling to get basic things done."

She described major delays to any applications to government as officials have resorted to manual systems and in many cases even shut up shop.

"You'd walk into the offices and they were closed or they were turning you away saying 'come back next week maybe, but we don't know'," she said.

Still, government staff have done their best to keep things going - with some using their own personal emails and internet hotspots for essential work.

Instead of electronic transfers, people have been paid with cheques. One civil servant relayed the experience of walking from department to department to get the relevant checks and sign-offs on an application. Others have been taking notes manually.

What happened?
According to civil servants who spoke to the BBC on condition of anonymity, it appears the government's servers were taken out on Friday 4 November.

Emails bouncing back from government addresses were the first sign something was wrong, residents said.

"If you take out the government internet… it affects everything. You want to do shipping? You've got to get stuff through approvals through customs. It affect airlines. It affects the health system - there isn't one bit of it that's unaffected," said Ms Stein.

No one from the government or the Prime Minister's office has yet returned the BBC's calls.

But AFP news agency and the Vanuatu Daily Post carried a government statement saying its online system had been "compromised" for two days.

There appears to be a financial motivation. Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald reported the attackers had demanded a ransom, which the Vanuatu government refused to pay.

No detail has been disclosed about the value of that extortion bid, or who the hackers are.

It's also unclear how the attack occurred and what protections Vanuatu had in place. Experts have noted the whole system was likely centralised and hosted on the government's own servers, a fundamental security flaw.

The island has already pledged to upgrade its system. In the meantime it's asked neighbouring Australia - traditionally its largest aid partner - to help rebuild its network.

As of Wednesday, the government domain was still down. A spokesman told the Herald the government's website "should be back next week".

Why might Vanuatu have been targeted?

The attack has come less than a month after a new government was elected - a potential time of vulnerability. "But the new government has responded quickly and not agreed to the ransom request," said Dr Meg Keen, director of the Pacific Islands Programme at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute.

"We don't yet know who is behind this attack, but a government spokesman has suggested it was an outside attack, likely from the Asia region."

Some have speculated that the hack may have originated in Indonesia. Vanuatu has long supported the independence movement in the Indonesian province of West Papua, where much of the population is Melanesian. The Indonesian military is accused of gross human rights abuses in the province.

Others note Vanuatu's position in the Pacific region - as a key nation that has relations with the US, China, Australia and New Zealand.

This year has seen Pacific Island nations courted by both Washington and Beijing. Island leaders were invited to the White House in September, while China's foreign minister carried out a whistle-stop tour around the Pacific in June seeking a regional deal.

US makes Pacific Islands pledge in bid to counter China
Island trip lays bare US-China tussle in the Pacific
Pacific Islands urge unity in face of China ambition
In recent years, Vanuatu has become one of the Pacific islands closest to Beijing. Chinese investment has built its parliament house, sporting stadium and convention centre. Beijing has an embassy in Port Vila, while Washington's representation is a three-hour flight away in Papua New Guinea.

However, Australia - allied with the US - has for over four decades been Vanuatu's largest aid donor and closest security partner.

Image caption,
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Vanuatu in June, securing some bilateral agreements
Internet provision is a critical utility. Last year, the Australian government funded its telecoms giant Telstra's purchase of Digicel Pacific, a Pacific telecoms company, in a move widely seen as a political block to China's influence in the region.

There had been talk that Digicel might sell its Pacific arm to Chinese state-owned operator China Mobile. Australia also secured an internet cable for the neighbouring Solomon Islands in 2018.

Dr Keen said Vanuatu, like other countries, aimed to secure its government information from external attacks. She noted a "global vulnerability" to such attacks - including in Australia, where hacks on a health insurer and telecommunications firm in recent weeks have exposed data of nearly half the population.

But Vanuatu has far fewer resources. Its economy is largely reliant on farming and tourism. The low-lying nation has been ranked among the most vulnerable to climate change.

"The attack is an added strain on public systems," Dr Keen said.

Ms Stein, who had worked in government departments in Vanuatu, noted the country's internet system had appeared fragile - with variable internet coverage and limited server capacity.

"It's a really miserable thing to do to a small island nation that just doesn't have the resources to deal with this," she said

Manning calls for calm following death of Senior Constable Nelson Kalimda – Warns suspects not to resist


Sunday October 30, 2022

Following confirmation that the body retrieved in Magarima, Hela Province, is that of Senior Constable Nelson Kalimda, Commissioner of Police David Manning has called for calm amongst police personnel and their families as those responsible are arrested.
“Now is the time that the country needs our disciplined forces to show restraint and calm as we deal with the death of Senior Constable Nelson Kalimda,” Commissioner Manning said this evening during a media conference at the National Police Headquarters. The conference was held after senior officers visited the family of the late constable to inform them of the death of their husband and father.
“I appeal for calm, and to put off any response or protest action, because nothing will be achieved from more violence.
“I am appealing to, and I am directing, all uniformed personnel to show restraint and let the law take its course.
“I share your pain, and the pain of Senior Constable Kalimda’s family, and I am as angry as every other man and woman in our uniform over what has happened to our brother.
“Ours is a dangerous profession that is not free from risk, and our police men and women face threats every day they go to work.
“That we confront these risks does not make it any easier to deal with the grief we face, but it reminds us that we lead by example and use the law to bring enemies of the people to justice,” Mr Manning said.
Commissioner Manning said investigations are being led by some of the most capable officers in the Police Force to bring swift justice upon those involved in the death of Senior Constable Kalimda.
“I issue a clear warning to anyone involved with Senior Constable Kalimda’s death, to not resist arrest when police catch up with them.
“If these suspects threaten police with weapons, our police personnel have full authority to escalate the use of force and to use all appropriate means necessary to take control of the situation.
“Police have made two arrests so far and there are four other persons of interest that are the subject of an ongoing search.
“On behalf of all police and our families, my direction to investigating officers is clear, to go and find the culprits and bring them in using every means at your disposal because the weight of the law and the will of the people is on your side,” Mr Manning said.
Commissioner Manning said Hela Governor, Philip Undialu, has supported the search with provincial resources, alongside community leaders with their knowledge at the local level, and all of these efforts have been most valuable in supporting police action.
Photograph and caption: Police Commissioner David Manning at the media conference. Far right is Chief of Staff, Commander Stephen Francis.

Indonesian police arrest Buchtar Tabuni and two Papuan ‘ministers’

 Source: Asia Pacific Report

A United Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) leader, Buchtar Tabuni, about to be arrested by
Indonesian police outside his home in Jayapura earlier this week. Image: Jubi/ULMWP

Indonesian police have arrested Buchtar Tabuni, one of West Papua’s most important liberation leaders, along with three other United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) ministers, reports the movement in a statement.

“Indonesia are once again suppressing freedom of expression and assembly in West Papua, in an attempt to crush our spirit and commitment to our struggle,” said interim president Benny Wenda.

Buchtar Tabuni is chair of the West Papua Council, and a member of the ULMWP Council Committee. His arrest was confirmed by police.

Other West Papua human rights issues

He was arrested with Bazoka Logo, Minister of Political Affairs, and Iche Murib, Minister of Women’s and Children’s Affairs, said the statement.

The trio were arrested at Tabuni’s house in Jayapura, following an annual ULMWP meeting, and interrogated at a nearby police station.

“What is their crime? What possible justification can there be for this crackdown? This was after a peaceful meeting at a private residence,” the statement said.

“The right to assembly is a basic human right, enshrined in the constitutions of countries around the world, including Indonesia.”

Buchtar Tabuni . . . arrested outside his Jayapura home after a peaceful meeting. Image: ULMWP

Sharing information

The National Parliament of the ULMWP meets annually to share information on events in their regions and discuss the situation of the struggle.

“West Papuans have the right, under international law, to peacefully mobilise for our independence,” Wenda said.

He called on anybody concerned by the arrests to to express their disgust to the Jayapura police chief.

Wenda said the arrests were in breach of basic principles of international diplomacy and human rights.

Both the ULMWP and Indonesia are members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, a regional political forum.

“We sit around the table together as equals. Imagine if British police arrested a Scottish parliamentarian following a peaceful meeting in their own home — there would be international outcry.

“This is the brutal reality of Indonesia’s colonial occupation.”

Tabuni targeted

Buchtar Tabuni . . . arrested outside his Jayapura home after a peaceful meeting. Image: ULMWP

The statement said this was not the first time Tabuni had been targeted by the Indonesian state.

Tabuni has spent much of his life behind bars, and was previously arrested and charged with treason for his involvement in anti-racism protests in 2020.

“This is political persecution: the harshness of Buchtar’s treatment is due only to his position as a respected leader of the independence struggle,” said Wenda.

“History tells us that there is no such thing as a fair trial for West Papuans in Indonesia. Victor Yeimo is still gravely ill in prison, where he has been held on spurious treason charges since May 2021.

“We urgently need the assistance of all international solidarity groups and NGOs — you must pressure your governments to help secure Mr Tabuni’s release, and all other West Papuan political prisoners.

Wenda said that the ULMWP demanded that Indonesia immediately release him with Bazoka Logo and Iche Murib.

Freedom ‘essential’

“Their freedom is essential in order to keep the peace,” he said.

According to Tabloid Jubi, Jayapura City police chief Senior Commander Victor D. Mackbon had confirmed that his office had arrested Buchtar Tabuni.

He said Tabuni was arrested to “clarify the activities” held at his home.

“Buchtar Tabuni’s arrival is to clarify his community gathering activities,” said Commander Mackbon.

Brief History of How & Where the Name Kagamuga Came About

Kagamuga means " lady with big bum" in Oksapmin dialect, Teliformin District, West Sepik Province. Kaga " lady" Muga " big bum".

Geographically, Teliformin  District is located on the Sepik Central Range along the Bismark Peninsula that stretches through the Highlands Region and covers some parts of Momase Region. It shares border with Indonesia on the eastern end and with our provincial borders Western Province, ESP, Enga, Hela & SHP. 

There is no such word as " Kagamuga" in Melpa Dialect that you could find in WHP. During the colonial era, White Administrators (Kiaps) brought in casual labourers from different parts of PNG to work on the Kagamuga Airport project including Teliformin people to work alongside with Western Highlanders & Jiwakas. Kiaps would assign people with different tasks. Teliformin women were assigned to carry out the task of rollers for compacting and stabilizing the soil/ground given their physique body built. They would join hands in straight line, chanting and singing their favourite traditional songs whilst jumping to and fro compacting the soil/ground with their bear feet. It was all purely done by manpower using physical strength. No machineries involved at that time.

Kiaps could/would see their breast swung to and fro including their bums. Kiaps felt appropriate that the airport should be named after them as Kagamuga as a token of appreciation for their tireless commitment to the development of the airport. That's how name Kagamuga came about in Oksapmin dialect meaning " lady with big bum".

Thanks to all the people of Telifomin for your significant contribution to the development of Kagamuga Airport that is today enjoyed by many people.

Some even further worked on the plantations at Kindeng and Kudjip with then Warren Plantations & Estates, now WR Carpenters- the producer of National No: 1 tea. Special one to all the "Kagamugas" out there. You're not forgotten by us. We still keep your name alive!

Melanesian Ancestors Enjoyed Advanced Way of Life, But Abandoned it and Went Back to Simply Joyful Way of Life and Living

 I have said repeatedly to various parties in the world, in giving my talks on "Melnaesia" and "Melanesian Customs and Beliefs" that 

"Melanesian Ancestors Enjoyed Advanced Way of Life, But Abandoned it and Went Back to Simply Joyful Way of Life and Living"

I have said this not based on books written by modern anthropologists or historians or biologists, but based on our own 


#PNGSUNpolitics: Plans and visions are as good as composition of the executive and legislative arms of the Government.

In order to jump-start the economy, take PNG back fully and implement other development aspirations, right leadership for the right ministerial roles with the right qualifications is pivotal. The concept is also important to restore public confidence in the executive and the legislative arms of the government.
With this in mind, Prime Minister, James Marape today (Tuesday) announced 12 Vice-Ministerial allocations, in line with his Government’s focus on ‘Growing the Economy’ and ‘Strengthening Internal Security’.
He made the announcements before he left for London to attend the funeral service of Queen Elizabeth II.
Of the 12 Vice-Ministers, four will be directly assisting PM Marape, in his role as Prime Minister and Minister for National Planning.
The four Vice Ministers assisting PM Marape are:
• Hon. Jimmy Maladina (Office of State Negotiations);
• Hon. Kinoka Feo (Strategic Planning);
• Hon. Muguwa Dilu (Constitutional Matters); and
• Hon. James Nomane (Planning PIP Budgeting)
The other eight Vice-Ministers and their allocations are:
• Hon. Solen Loifa (Treasury);
• Hon. John Boito (Finance and Implementation);
• Hon. Kessy Sawang (International Trade and Investment);
• Hon. Miki Kaeok (Works and Highways);
• Hon. Thomas Opa (Petroleum and Energy);
• Hon. Raphael Tonpi (State Enterprises);
• Hon. Graham Piniau Rumet (Cocoa and Copra); and
• Hon. James Donald (Mining and Border Issues).
“The four Vice-Ministers have been given specific tasks to assist me, likewise, the other eight Vice-Ministers,” PM Marape said.
“We are timebound and want to achieve results
“It is not just a ceremonial office they are holding, unlike the past, and they have been given specific tasks just like Ministers.
“We expect the Vice-Ministers to achieve in the tasks that they have been given.”
PM Marape said Ministers’ jobs were so “wide and huge” with Papua New Guinea not being like it was back in 1975, especially population growth.
He said when he returned from his international tour-of-duty, he would sit down with individual Ministers and Vice-Ministers, and tell them what was expected of them.
“All Ministers have already been given Key Result Areas, and when I return, I will sit down with them and the Vice-Ministers,” PM Marape said.
“Likewise, when I come back, I will meet all Governors at a Governors’ Forum and engage with them on what they must do.
“We will focus especially on provinces being less dependent on Waigani for finances, with more focus on agriculture, downstream processing of forestry, fisheries, tourism and other businesses.
“I want provinces to step up in these areas and take ownership of businesses instead of just being spectators and waiting for handouts from Waigani.
“This will complement our focus on Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in all provinces and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
“This, I believe, will really jumpstart our economy.”

Opposition says Indonesia’s ‘futsal gift’ should not deter our stand for West Papua

OPPOSITION Leader Hon Matthew Wale says the new Futsal Stadium handed over by the Indonesian government should not deter our support for fellow Melanesians in West Papua.

Whilst acknowledging the gift from Indonesia, Hon Wale said Solomon Islands should never allow this to be the 30 pieces of silver to betray our fellow Melanesians in West Papua.

He said the new Futsal Stadium is a dream come true for the futsal code in the country, but it should never change our stand and perspective on West Papua.

The Opposition Leader said it is not right that Solomon Islands voice is silenced by this ‘gift’ from speaking for the voiceless people of West Papua who continue to suffer under the colonial oppression of Indonesia.

Hon Wale said the Prime Minister knows well because he is a strong supporter of West Papua.

“Our current Prime Minister is a strong supporter of West Papua and I urge him to raise the issue of West Papua to the visiting Indonesia delegation during their meetings,” he said.

Hon Wale also issued a call to the visiting Indonesia government delegation to facilitate Solomon Islands earlier calls to enable the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit West Papua.


  • Opposition Press

Africa History Note; Emperor Menelik II and his consort, Empress Taitu

A combined repost with appropriate edits to mark the joint birthday of Emperor Menelik II and his consort, Empress Taitu.

178 years ago in the town of Angolalla in Northern Shewa, a son was born to Abeto Beshah Wered (later Negus Haile Melekot) and Woizero Idjigayehu Lemma.  A lot of speculation exists about the origins of his mother, but she was in fact a lady of a family of northern Shewa, in the service of Beshah Wered’s great-grandmother Zenebework, widow of Merid Azmatch Wossen Seged. The child would be baptized as Sahle Dengel, but his grandfather Negus Sahle Selassie, king of Shewa, renamed him Menelik.  Menelik’s paternal line had reigned as rulers of Shewa as Merid Azmatches and then Kings.  They were descended from Abeto Yacob, the youngest son of Emperor Libne Dengel.

The baby born on August 17, 1844 would eventually mount the Imperial throne as Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia.  He would successfully consolidate the authority of the central government over peripheral areas, and restored the sovereignty of the Ethiopian Crown over the various vassal kingdoms and sultanates who had functioned with autonomy since the Zemene Mesafint.  He would successfully defend his realm against Italian colonialism, decisively defeating the largest European army assembled in Africa until that time at the Battle of Adwa in 1896.  He started his country on the road to modernity, setting up the foundations for development.

Menelik was married three time.  His first wife was Alitash Tewodros, daughter of Emperor Tewodros II whom he abandoned when he escaped from Magdala and returned to Shewa to reclaim his crown.  His second wife was Bafena Wolde, a formidable woman of great beauty from Merhabete who plotted against her husband in order to place her sons from a previous marriage in power.  Menelik divorced her due to this plotting.  His third wife was Taitu Bitul, the intelligent and resolute woman who would be his partner in power.  More on her below. 

Menelik II was the type of leader who suspended the collection of taxes when a rinderpest outbreak killed off most cattle including ploughing oxen, leading to a devastating famine.  He led by example going out to personally break the earth with a hoe, to encourage cattle-less farmers to do the same, stressing that there was no dishonor in working with one’s hands.  Easily moved by the plight of others, compassionate and merciful, he earned the nickname Imiye Menelik እምዬ ምኒልክ (Mother Menelik) because he was seen to be more like an indigent and affectionate mother figure, than the typical stern father figure image of traditional Emperors.  Tolerant in matters of religion, firmly believing that everyone had the right to practice their religion unmolested, he nevertheless was personally a devout member of the Orthodox Church and devoted to the Virgin Mary.   He had the ability to turn enemies into friends, but was firm when firmness was needed. 

In recent years, shameless revisionists have tried to turn Emperor Menelik II into a monster.  It is an insidious effort to undermine the Ethiopianism he stood for.  However, truth and history cannot remain buried or be corrupted forever.  The truth will prevail.

Taitu Bitul Haile Mariam was born at Debre Tabor some time between 1840 and 1853.  Scholars seem to lean towards 1851.  She was the third of five children of Ras Bitul Haile Mariam, half brother of Dejazmatch Wube Haile Mariam of Simien.  Her mother Woizero Yewubdar was a noblewoman of Begemidir and Gojjam.  Her uncle Dejazmatch Wube once ruled a big chunk of northern Ethiopia from his seat in Simien, including Tigray and wide swaths of what is now Eritrea.  He was one of the most powerful nobles of his day and even had ambitions of being crowned Emperor being descended from a daughter of Emperor Susenyous the Catholic.  Her Yejju relatives were the Wereshek dynasty of Princes who had ruled as Regents the Ethiopian Empire in the place of the then powerless Emperors throughout the Zemene Mesafint period.  Tewodros II swept away the power of the regional landlords, by first deposing her Wereshek relatives, and then her uncle Wube, being crowned Emperor in the very church Wube had built for his own planned coronation.  Many of her relatives found themselves imprisoned by the new Emperor.

Her brothers, Wele and Alula Bitul were imprisoned at the mountain citadel of Magdala where they became friends with their fellow prisoner, Menelik, the Prince of Shewa who had been kept a prisoner since boyhood when his father King Haile Melekot had died leaving Shewa defenseless against the forces of Tewodros.  Their friendship had continued after Menelik escaped from Magdala and been restored to his Shewan kingdom.  In the mean time Taitu had entered at least three marriages of which little is known other than that she produced no children that survived infancy. After Menelik’s marriage to Bafena disintegrated, Menelik had rejected many a candidate for his hand.  Menelik was looking for a wife and his friend Ras Wele Bitul suggested he meet his sister.  It is said that Wele and Alula had intended to introduce Menelik to their sister Woizero Desta, but when he saw Taitu he was captivated.  They married in a communion marriage at Easter in 1883.  In 1889, Taitu was crowned Empress-consort (Etege) of Ethiopia on the second day of her husband’s coronation as Emperor.  

Taitu more than any other Ethiopian royal consort of a reigning Emperor, acted as a true partner in power to her husband.  She took part in every discussion in matters of state and took part in the both the process and decisions of policy and action. Empress Taitu was the the other side of the coin of Menelik’s reign, the Ying to his Yang.  Menelik II was debonair, playful, something of a procrastinator, and loathe to make decisions that he believed might result in negative feelings.  His favorite phrase when confronted with such decisions was said to be “alright, let’s discuss this further tomorrow”.  Taitu on the other hand had no problem saying “No!”  Menelik found it useful to deflect such difficult decisions to her, and Taitu dealt with them without hesitation.  This may have been one of the reasons that Menelik was so widely adored while Taitu inspired awe and nervousness in her lifetime..  She did not mind a certain level of unpopularity as long as it got things done.  Taitu played a vital role in the negotiations with Italy leading up to the Battle of Adwa, and led a troop of soldiers and camp attendants during that war.  It was Taitu who came up with the idea to cut off the water supply to the Italian fort at Enda Iyesus overlooking Mekele which resulted in victory there before Adwa.  She was often portrayed by foreign sources as anti-modernization and anti-foreigner in contrast to her husband who was an enthusiastic modernizer.  However, Taitu was not so much against modernization as she was concerned about the ability of the state to keep up with the increased public demands that rapid development might bring.  She regarded many of the modern marvels like automobiles and telephones with disdain.  She challenged Alfred Ilg, (one of the few westerners she actually got along well with) on the need to build a railway connecting Addis Ababa to Djibouti.  Who would feed the families of the mostly lowland Muslim caravan traders when the train put them out of business, she wanted to know?  How is a train a benefit if it robs a large group of their livelihood?  Among her greatest contributions was founding and naming the City of Addis Ababa. 

May the memory of Menelik II, King of Kings of Ethiopia, and Taitu Bitul, Light of Ethiopia, be eternal.

✍🏿 Solomon Kibriye

Civil Society Organisations (CSO) offered a word of prayer for the Struggle for Self-determination in West Papua


Civil Society Organisations (CSO) offered a word of prayer for the Struggle for Self-determination in West Papua before they head over to the meet the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders at the Non State Actors Dialogue.

The delegation was led by Pacific Conference of Churches General Secretary, @Reverend James Bhagwan (Jimmy Bee) presented the PRINGO Alliance Covenant to the leaders during the morning tea.
Pacific Islands Forum Leaders at the Non State Actors Dialogue this morning.
PRNGO Alliance again urged our leaders to re-affirm their calls for the UNHCHR and Indonesia to conduct the UNHCHR Office visit to West Papua and Papua Provinces within 12 months or in 2023.
for their fight for Independence before the CSO del heads over to meet the #PIFsLeaders at the #NSAdialogue.
The Pacific is not free until West Papua, Maohi Nui and Kanaky are free!