The Yam Hole – Oral History


Yam Hole Part 2 JK.Leahy memoir series

What the distinguished audience of Lae city that evening did not realise was that 35 years later, a huge development would take place on this particular land, and the question of ownership would become a significant dispute. The speech I gave at age 15 included many important references and landmarks my grandmother constantly repeated to my cousins, aunts and my mother instilling what was ours. None of these important references were documented. Many of our eldest, including my grandmother have since passed away at 89 seven years ago. Still living are her three brothers – Mambu (age 93), Karo and Mendali both in their mid to late 80s. Uncle Max is the eldest son of Mambu Baim.

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With Abungac Medali Baim, my grandma’s youngest brother.
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My sons are in this picture with Abungac Mambu and his Karo. Two of my grandma’s brothers.
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Uncle Max far right and Mam Malimpu – both are my mother’s first and second cousins.

Oral history as told by Awagia Hampom

As the story goes, “Awagia Hampom is the eldest granddaughter of Iapo Ankwa and her mother is Awelu Yalecsu.  Awelu Jalecsu and Geyamtausu Ngongwe are the two biological daughters of Kemampum Iapo. As a result of a tribal warfare at the time, Kemampum, originally from Kamkumung Village sought refuge at Wagang Village. At that time there were main groupings of people already settled at this place in Wagang Village; such as the Wakangbu and Malacbalum and Ong clans. Kemampum and his family hid themselves on a piece of land within the vicinity of the Wakangbu people. He pleaded with the original settlers if they could agree to grant permission for him and his family to settle on a small piece of land called Ambisi, translated as a ‘yam hole’. This was how this portion of land got its name. The Ambisi borders with the neighbouring Butibam clam.

The name ambisi is referred to a hole that is left after yam harvest.

Read the next part here, on this blog soon.

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