BY LORETTA BRIGIDIA MANELE
THERE are two ways you can interpret whether regionalism is evident in Malaita province and it’s either negatively or positively.
This was raised by Dr David W Gegeo, Research Coordinator of Social Sciences at the Solomon Islands National University’s (SINU) Office of Research who was delivering his keynote address to mark Malaita Province’s Second Appointed Day on Wednesday at the national museum’s auditorium.
Speaking of regionalism and whether it exists in the province, Gegeo spoke about how it is evident in both positive and negative aspects.
Initially, he said that from a positive realm, regionalism does exist in Malaita province as there is vast number of islands, pointing out Liungiua, Pelau, Sikaiana, North, East, West, Central and South Malaita as relatable examples.
Gegeo adds that regionalism is also when the province is divided into regions for the purpose or ease of development such as Manaoba airport, Atoifi airport, Gwaunaru’u airport, Parasi airport and so on.
“If we see regionalism in Malaita province in this positive light then I would say yes, we do have regionalism which we construct ourselves for the purpose or convenience of managing our economic, political, cultural and spiritual development,” he said.
Gegeo noted that regionalism is not only in Malaita province but it in all provinces thus is not something new.
He explains that the whole idea of the colonial government dividing the islands into districts for economic and political manageability is in principle an act of regionalism.
In contrast, Gegeo said that if regionalism was perceived in the province negatively, as a separatist ideology then they need to stop it now.
“It is not healthy for us on all dimensions; politically, economically, culturally, spiritually and otherwise. Malaita people must stay united together like our brothers and sisters in other provinces,” he said.
The research coordinator proceeded to state that if there are issues between North and South Malaita, Liungiua and Pelau and Sikaiana they must bring their leaders and people together in public forums and dialogue amongst ourselves and solve those issues.
He mentioned that separation or fragmentation is not the solution.
“Our strength is in our being united and staying together as one people and I am talking about South and North Malaita and Liungiua and Pelau and Sikaiana,” he said.
Gegeo expressed that Malaita is one of the few provinces in the country whose population consists of the three indigenous ethnic groups of Melanesians, Micronesians and Polynesians who settled in North and South Malaita and Liungiua and Pelau and Sikaiana and not through recent transcontinental migration but transcontinental migration that dates back to 40,000 to 60,000 years ago.
“I am very proud of that part of our provincial history,” he said.
Gegeo voiced that when their community leaders brought up the idea of Maasina Rule after the Second World War, it was so that their people and communities can stand united together as one people against colonization.
He furthered that they must stand firm against the temptation to be misled by the separatist ideologies of the modern world.
To add on, Gegeo said that they need each other to form a strong labor force for successful economic development in the future not only for Malaita province but for Solomon Islands as a whole.
“Let us stay together as one peace loving and caring people from Liungiua and Pelau and Sikaiana to Sa’a, Are’Are, Kwaio, Langalanga, Kwara’ae, Fataleka, Baegu, Baelelea, Tobaita, Lau, Ngongosila, Kwai,Walande, Fanalei etc,” he said.