Malaita hosts Land Summit 2018

Women and youth in full swing preparing their presentation for the Malaita Land Summit. Photos by Alfred Sasako
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Search on to untangle what keeps Malaita in the development doldrums for years

By Alfred Sasako

ONE of the nation’s founding fathers, Solomon Mamaloni, once said that Solomon Islands was a country “conceived but (was) never born.”

To a certain extent, it is true, but only because the national leadership appeared to have invested in the wrong sector.

Today, youths, women, community chiefs and church leaders have suddenly woken up to the stark reality that unless they work together the future is bleak.

It is no wonder all nine provinces which make up the State of Solomon Islands appear to be running their own race as well in identifying the development model and approach which suit their own environment, before the unborn child and its mother die.

In Malaita, where land disputes have been blamed for lack of development over the years, the race is truly on.

This week a three-day Land Summit opens in the Malaita Capital, Auki today, drawing women, youths, Community Chiefs and Church leaders from all over the Province.

Youth and women prepare their presentation for the Malaita Land Summit which opens in Auki yesterday.

Sustainable Peace and Stability through Equitable Distribution of benefits from Customary Land and Sea Resources has been chosen as the Theme for the Summit which ends on Thursday.

The mission or objective of the Summit is to unearth what has kept Malaita in the development doldrums since the Ma’asina Rule in the 40s. Some of Malaita’s own academic brains will be amongst those attending the $600, 000 event funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

They include Dr Welshman Gegeo who will chair the session on Land, Peace and Socio-economic development and others. The new Catholic Bishop of Malaita will also officiate at the opening, providing the sermon and the opening prayer

Malaita Premier Peter Ramohia as well as the UNDP Country Manager, Azusa Kubota will both give key speeches at the three-hour formal opening sessions this morning (Tuesday).

While there have been at least two summits and or Malaita Conferences in the past, there never has been a Land Summit until now.

Women and youth in full swing preparing their presentation for the Malaita Land Summit. Photos by Alfred Sasako

Those Conferences as well as a recent tour of Fiji to observe the land tenure system there were merely used as reference points to the underlying problem of the land tenure system.

Land, some say, is a fundamental pillar to development. Organisers are hoping that the outcome of this Land Summit, to which all 14 National Members of Parliament have been invited, will provide a road map.

It is not clear whether any of them would turn up, given that the last session of the 10th Parliament is on.

Regardless of whether they attend or not, Grassroots from all over Malaita have converged on Auki.

They are being represented in force in the form of youth groups, whose future is at stake, Community Chiefs, Church leaders, women and more.

These groups spent all day yesterday attending prep sessions in preparation for the formal discussions today.

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