Others believe in God, we in east Kwaio believe in rumours

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IT is said that almost all the tropical cyclones that hit island countries in the Pacific were usually formed in the Coral Sea. From there it travelled in the direction of the tropical storm.

In many cases, they left tens of millions of dollars in their wake where they made landfall.

I have just spent a glorious week traveling the breath, length and width of some of the most beautiful natural harbours in Solomon Islands. Sinarangu, in the centre of East Kwaio, has earned the name Diamond Harbour by colonial masters, most probably because of its beauty and shape. It’s a haven.

Sinarangu is at the centre of what could easily be described as a dormant arch, which has been denied any meaningful development in the past decade. It links Olomburi to the south and Uru to the north, where Atoifi Hospital is located.

All the water supply projects, funded by donors, in Uru and Sinarangu, are no longer operational due to lack of maintenance. Ogou water supply, for which Taiwan provided $300, 000 in maintenance funds in 2008, has disappeared.

Funds provided for the maintenance work appeared to have been expended on something else. A formal complaint with the police in 2010 is probably gathering dust at Rove.

Despite these shortcomings, East Kwaio is beautiful, almost beyond description. Its rugged coastline stretching from Uru in the north to Olomburi in the south is bounded by beautiful rolling hills and mountains of breathtaking scenery particularly at sunset.

Within the rugged coastline are nuggets of social standing. In Uru, for instance, stands Atoifi Hospital, a life-saving institution which has had its fair share of hardships and no doubt trials for staff both past and present. Its motto, For God and Humanity, epitomises its mission and call to serve.

The Hospital is without power almost literally. Two 200KVA generators that it once used have broken down. It currently is running on an 80KVA for eight hours a day but only for emergencies. Staff residences have to go without power.

Although East Kwaio was probably the last in Solomon Islands to open up for education, it now has several community high schools and primary schools. In Uru alone, for example, there are four community high school, including Imbo, a Seventh-Day Adventist-run school.

Gordon Darcy, a one-time Prime Minister of Solomon Islands was educated at Imbo Primary School. Gordon’s father was once an SDA Pastor, who served in East Kwaio for many, many years.

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Uru is the most populous in East Kwaio.

Sinarangu to the south has a fair share of social services as well. It has two community high schools and a clinic.

Further south at Olomburi, social services have become almost invisible. There is one community high school at Balafai, the main SDA centre in the District. Other services were not as visible.

When it comes to rumours about election and who has the most money to give away, East Kwaio stands on its own. It is not clear whether the low level of education amongst the mature population is a factor.

Whatever it is, you will just have to pick what you believe. In many ways, East Kwaio is a bit like the Coral Sea where almost all tropical cyclones were formed before spreading like wildfire.

Over the last four days, I have heard dozens of falsehood, which seem to have the endorsement of provincial MPAs. Here’s one to whet your appetite. There’s a story going around here that the MP for the Constituency has now locked in $30 million for his electioneering costs in the upcoming national general election early next year.

The MP, the story goes, has secured the funding during his most recent overseas trip. The MP saw the Pope who had signed off on the dotted line for the release of the money.

As a matter of fact, the story is that all the MPs would each have $30 million for his election spendings. When I tried to explain that the $30 million could have been part the total allocation for the four years to 2018, the answer was a firm no.

To them, it was their MP’s own money to spend during the 2019 election.

So when it comes to rumours of money, it is here in East Kwaio from which I come that has all the stories about tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars being manufactured.

Could the lies interwoven in these anecdotes be part of the winning formula in past elections? If so, the Electoral Commission must up its antennae to put an end to lies that have won elections in East Kwaio and other places in the last 12 years.

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