Fall of a chef and rising star – The National

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TRIBUTE
Tribute to the man who led the negotiations towards a better deal for the landowners of the Ok Tedi mine
Martin Toby Yakuman while graduating from Charles Darwin University in 1998.

By BM YAKUMANI
FROM the remote village of Murusapa in the Almami electorate of Bogia in Madang, the name of Martin Toby Yakumani stands out. He was called Murusapa’s rising star at his funeral in Madang recently.
Martin was the only person from his village and surrounding villages in the Tangu area of ​​Bogia district in Madang to have obtained a master’s degree. This was echoed in the sentiments shared by members of his own tribe at the funeral. This rising star would have raised the flag of the whole region higher if he had lived.
A challenge was issued to his three boys, Junior Toby Yakumani, who graduated in 2014 from Divine Word University (DWU) with a degree in environmental health, and his two younger brothers and two daughters who also graduated from DWU.
Marsena Yakumani graduated in Business Management in 2017 and the baby of the family, Bethel Yakumani graduated in Accounting on March 11, 2022. His children were also challenged by him during his lifetime to achieve qualifications which far exceed what he had. already reached. God willing, one of them will carry on their late father’s legacy and raise the flag higher than he did.
Martin was born to the late Chief Yakumani Sigerat Warambanai Sigeratigav of Murusapa Village and Maria Weivasu Taukit of Warel Village in Lumi District of West Sepik.
The late Father Yakumani was a police officer who had served with distinction during World War II and after. He met and married Martin’s late mother in West Sepik before being transferred to the Southern Highlands where they were stationed. Martin was born in Kagua in the Southern Highlands on May 17, 1967.
Martin did first grade at Wakwak Primary School in Mendi before the family moved from the southern highlands to Madang in 1972. The father had by then resigned and left the police. While they settled in Madang in what was famously known as Bukbuk settlement.
Martin continued his journey in teaching. He attended Holy Spirit Elementary School and completed grades 1 through 6, always maintaining a top five spot in his class.
In 1980 he was chosen to attend the new St Michael’s Brahman Secondary School. The Catholic high school had just started enrolling students, so other feeder primary schools in Madang were sending their students there. From 1980 to 1983, he did his 7th to 10th grade. In 1984, after performing well in the 10th grade national exams, he was selected to attend the school of excellence Passam National High School.
His other two Brahman schoolmates who were also selected to attend Passam were Michael Nou (Smokie) and the late Dermot Ermot. This was also revealed during his funeral at Gerehu Stage 2 in Port Moresby. Michael Nou is still at Telikom PNG while Dermot and Martin have since passed away.
In Passam, the characteristics and traits of leadership were visible in this rising star. He held several extracurricular leadership positions and one of them was the seventh generation leader, First Taim Mangis (FTM). The school allowed students to join social, cultural, provincial or other local groups.
The FTM club, like any other club, was made up of male students from the provinces of Morobe, Madang and Sepik. Other students from other provinces also joined the club. There was a mix of students from all over the country.
Many of these students who were once in this FTM club are now in positions of responsibility. One such person is the current Lae Open MP, John Rosso, a very good and close friend of the late Martin. Their relationship continued after National High School. In fact, the late Martin boasts of being in the same dorm during their National High School years.
Their leader is called the leader and the male students have the generation names they chose to call apart from their own names in the FTM circle. So for the late Martin, he was also called the Chief, an apt title he had until his passing.

Martin Yakumani and the former Chief Secretary, the late Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc after the successful negotiation for the transfer of 33% shares of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd to local landowners.

To this day, many FTMs are called by their generational names and those who have joined the club throughout their years at Passam know who is who. For the late rising star, he is no exception.
Back to those school days; the last night before his grade 12 economics exam, he got drunk with his peers. Not sober since the night before, he walked into the exam hall the next day and scribbled on the economics exam paper. His hope of entering UPNG and becoming an economist was dashed when he did not receive an offer to pursue higher education.
However, this did not deter this rising star and did not dampen her will and motivation to persevere further in her studies. He started at Madang Paramedic College (now part of DWU) with his grade 12 certificate and after a long discussion with the college principal, he got a space at the college to do the paramedic course. health extension.
All students were normally selected by the college council or selection committee, but not in his case. He was offered a placement through the divine intervention of God as this is how he described his admission later in life.
After learning from his terrible experience at Passam, his focus and focus shifted as he tried his best to attend all the lectures and study hard to get good grades on all his exams at the College of Allied Health Science. After three years in college from 1986 to 1988, he graduated as a health extension worker with flying colors.
He will then have to prove to the medical commission that, in order to practice, he must follow the residency part of the program. So, for another year, he did his residency at Angau General Hospital, Kaiapit Health Center, Kimbe General Hospital and Bialla Health Center.
This all happened in 1989. Then the West New Britain Health Division advertised positions and he applied and was accepted to work as a health extension worker. In 1990 he met and married his wife, Bonnie Dube. She was a year after him at Passam National High School from 1985 to 1986.
After a short stint with the West New Britain Department of Health, he got a job with Baptist World Aid through AusAid to manage a women’s and children’s health project in areas where the Baptist Church was operational. The head office was based at Tinsley Hospital in the Baiyer district of the Western Highlands.
The family was stationed at Kumbareta station and Martin led a small team of experts including health and finance professionals as well as administrative staff. There were a total of seven experts (all Australians) in Project Watch.
The group moved and traveled between the provinces of Western Highlands, Enga and West Sepik. They offered medical expertise, conducted trainings on women’s and children’s health, and collected data for further review and analysis. In 1993 the project staff moved to West Sepik and the family was stationed at the Telefomin station.
During the life of the project, the family again moved to the Western Highlands. While in the Western Highlands, the team secured funding from Baptist World Aid and built their headquarters on the grounds of the Kimininga Baptist Church. This office now houses some of the programs run by the Baptist Church.
As the Watch project drew to a close, the late Martin applied for an Ausaid scholarship and was successful. Without a first university degree, he was accepted at Charles Darwin University to follow the master’s program in international management. He completed the course with distinction and in just one year. The coursework would otherwise have taken two years to complete.
After graduating in 1998, various jobs took him across the country. The last he held for about 11 years was as General Manager of the Mount Fubilan Resource Owners Association with the Ok Tedi mine at Western.
Under his leadership, various commercial agreements for land companies were concluded. Local companies have had the opportunity to invest locally and abroad and the volume of investments has also increased.
The most important step taken by this rising star was the successful negotiation of a better deal for the peoples of the West. They are now one of the main shareholders of the giant Ok Tedi Mine, holding 33% of the shares. It would have cost them a fortune to pay him for his tireless efforts and service as chief negotiator under former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, but the late Martin humbly and happily received what was offered .
On December 20, 2021, he collapsed at home and was rushed to Pacific International Hospital. After three admissions to PIH and with confirmations from doctors that he had stomach cancer, he finally succumbed to the disease at 8:30 p.m. on January 31, 2022 at Port Moresby General Hospital.
He was buried in Madang on February 19, 2022.
Rest in eternal peace until we meet on the beautiful shores.


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