Report – By Pacific Media Watch in Honiara
The Pacific media family was today mourning the untimely passing away of one of the region’s successful indigenous media owners and life member of the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA), Father John Lamani of Solomon Islands.
Father Lamani, as he was affectionately known, died at his Skyline Ridge home in Honiara early this morning.
He was a pioneering Pacific Islands newspaper publisher – owning the Solomon Islands daily newspaper, the Solomon Star, PAOA FM radio and a printing business.
He was not only a celebrated regional media figure but also contributed immensely to the Anglican Church in Solomon Islands, where he was ordained a priest. In 2009, he was knighted and bestowed the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) for his service to the media, church and community in Solomon Islands.
Recognising the late Father Lamani’s success as an indigenous newspaper publisher in the Pacific, PINA at its biennial Media Summit invited Father Lamani to be its keynote speaker in Fiji in March this year.
“This was one of his last contributions to the regional media fraternity – encouraging Pacific Islanders to take on the challenge of setting up their own media organisation and report issues from their perspective,” said PINA manager Matai Akauola.
“The untimely death is a huge dent on the regional media family, especially the words of wisdom that we need every now and then from our elder media statesmen who have come through challenges we are facing now.
“Father Lamani was a great believer in home grown solutions,” said Akauola.
Both the late Father Lamani and his wife Cathy were given the PINA Media Freedom Award in 2001 for their bravery and national leadership of the local media in Solomon Islands during the ethnic tension.
The national media association in Solomon Islands lamented Father Lamani’s passing away as a huge loss for the media industry in the Pacific nation.
The Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI) president, George Herming, said the newspaper publisher was one of the pioneering figures in the development of the independent media in Solomon Islands.
“The sacrifice and dedication made by Father Lamani in the field of media has been very inspirational and contributed significantly to the development of the media both in Solomon Islands and the region.
Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie said: “We are greatly saddened by his loss to the Pacific region.
“He was truly a visionary for Pacific media and worked hard all his life to build up first the Solomon Star into one of the finest newspapers in the region and then in also developing PAOA FM. He was also a staunch leader of Pacific media “regionalism”.
“He will be sorely missed across the Pacific and beyond.”
The late Father Lamani, who hails from Gegema Village in Malaita Province, is survived by his wife Catherine, three daughters, two sons and a grandchild.
A funeral service will be held in Honiara on Tuesday morning before his body is taken to his home island for burial.
Source: 8096 Pacific Media Watch/PINA