The founder of the Solomon Star newspaper Father John Lamani dies | Pacific Beat

The founder of the Solomon Star newspaper Father John Lamani dies

The founder of the Solomon Star newspaper Father John Lamani dies

Updated 10 September 2012, 17:47 AEST

Earlier today we learned that John Lamani -- the founder of the Solomon Star newspaper -- had died unexpectedly.

Father Lamani was one of the most respected and well known members of the Pacific media industry.

He died suddenly -- reportedly of a heart attack -- at his home this morning.

Friends and colleagues have been paying their respects to Father Lamani.

Let's hear from one of them, Cornelius Rathamana, General Manager of the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker:Cornelius Rathamana, General Manager of the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, Mary Louise O'Callaghan, RAMSI's public affairs manager, Sam Seke, head of Radio Australia's Tok Pisin service

SEKE: Yeah Bruce it has come as quite a shock actually.

HILL: He was involved in the media for a long, long time, what do you think his lasting legacy will be in the Solomon Islands media scene?

SEKE: I think right now what generally maybe people in Solomon Islands they see him as what we would see the Rupert Murdoch of the media in Solomon Islands. He's got Solomons Star of course newspaper and he's got the, and he's also got PowerFM, he's got a string of them, and also Star Printing and Star Events, these are media sort of related companies that he's developed over the years. So he's actually a prominent figure in Solomon Islands as far as the media is concerned.

HILL: Now many people have mentioned his work during the ethnic conflict and the economic troubles from 1998 to 2003. That was a particularly difficult period to be a journalist in Solomon Islands, wasn't it?

SEKE: Yes it was, it was, for the newspapers, for the radio as well, he was trying to put out a paper, the Solomons Star, it was only the Star then during these very, very trying times. And not only him but all the other media, some of them had to close down because of the situation the media was going through then.

HILL: There were very direct threats to people, people had guns waved in their faces?

SEKE: Definitely, yeah it happened and some of us had to flee because of that.

HILL: And you're here in Australia now Sam?

SEKE: Yes.

HILL: You actually worked with him yourself didn't you?

SEKE: Oh yes, when I left school I joined the SIBC as one of them in service training, and he was my boss, my immediate boss then was John Lamani and I knew him as a very nice person. He's hard, he wanted you to of course do the work that you were expected to do, but he was fair. But one thing that I noticed about him, he had a very good sense of humour, he likes to laugh, a full belly laugh that you get arrested for if you do it here.

HILL: Now he's called Father John, I mean he's a priest?

SEKE: A few years ago, because he has always been involved in churches, a member of the Anglican Church, the Church of Melanesia that's known in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. And he was a lay preacher and then a few years ago he became ordained as one of the priests that don't actually get paid but on Sundays they help out with services, the mass and all that.

HILL: Ok so finally Sam, do you think we can expect a fairly big funeral tomorrow?

SEKE: Definitely, not only from the church but also from the media and from the government. He was a likeable person and a very nice person to say the least.


Bruce Hill

Bruce Hill


Bruce is one of the Pacific’s most experienced journalists with nearly 20 years covering the region and has won several international awards.

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