Raymond Imako Baria

September 30, 2018

Raymond was well-liked by everyone who knew him.   Photo by Claudio Dake

I was 23 and started work at Loloho Power House the same year mom gave birth to the late Raymond I. Baria my younger brother. Photo Courtesy of James Long (Khaki overalls).

Late Raymond's three nieces are also devastated having missed out on his funeral. L-R Macareena Kamuka (IBS, Port Moresby), Symone Omako (DWU, Madang) and Heloise Omako (Kaindi DWU, Wewak)

My daughters Alexandra and Christina and their children will also miss their beloved uncle and grandpa whom they are fond of.


There were eight of us then with me being the first born and after me, there were seven girls, Anna-May, Alberta (later changed to Bertha), Carmen, Noela, Marina, Elizabeth, and Josephine. The fact that I had no brother had been an issue for me for a long time but it was always watered down with my parents' constant arguing and fighting. My father was a well-known wife beater like his father before him. He was jailed by the Colonial District Commissioner at Kieta for committing the offense when I was a baby. The jail term did little to change my father. In fact, he became worse and my mother became equally defiant and hardened over time due to all the beatings and other violent treatment she received from my father. So the fighting between them continued and we as children were affected by it. Needless to say we grew up in a violent home and it's a wonder that none of us met the same fate as our last born brother. My mother was a strong-willed, proud woman and provided well for her big family. My father also was a very enterprising person and planted cocoa and coconut trees to earn our keep and pay for school fees and basic needs like soap, salt, canned food and so forth. All in all my parents were hardworking people but we the children also needed a secure and peaceful home  to grow up like any normal children.

My parents were proud that we were well fed and they never lost a child. I was 23 years of age and Mom was heavy with yet another child, so as the third born in the family Bertha. Both mother and daughter gave birth to two healthy little baby boys. Mother named her boy Raymond and weened them both on her breasts when Bertha took up a job as a bank teller. By then I had landed a good job with the mining company BCL at Loloho Power Station as a cadet operator. With a promise of a budding career, having a brother which had been bugging me for a long time was furthest from my mind. So when Raymond came along I was just content that at long last I had a brother. The only thing, of course, was that he was never going to be old enough to hang out with me and the boys for a long time.

I watched from a distance amused because he had this smile or a funny grin that set in well his big ears. Otherwise, he was a happy and bubbly child. As he grew older he turned out to be tall and lanky like our father unlike me who had been chubby and fat most of my life. He was everything I was not. He was sporty and I was a boring bookworm who tried to play sports and got scorned by my peers for dropping the ball or doing something stupid that cost the team points.

Mother put him in school but he was not the type. He didn’t like school and just wanted to stay home and have fun to do things around the house. "Fair enough", mom said. "I am not going to waste 50 toea on movies which go to watch instead of going to school" She, had seen enough of her children and a her age she was not going to let her last born give her hard time. He was an intelligent kid regardless. He spoke English like a 12th grader with other drunk high school kids when they was smashed on JJ. In time he learned how to drive and was driving dad’s utility around town smoking spear he had nicked off dad while he was dozing under the house.

Late Raymond was a competitive type of person. Had a passion for sports, he played a lot of basketball, but he also played soccer and volley at times and represented Bougainville in Basketball in 2009 PNG Games. I accompanied him to Port Moresby and played darts in the games.

My kid’s loved him. He wasn’t too old to play with them either at an early age. My elder daughter, in fact, bears a small barely visible scar from a sharp point of a grass knife he swung and just nicked her accidentally on the left cheek because she moved up too close to him when he was cutting their path into the bushes where they played hide and seek.

As he grew older the late Raymond remained fond of kids. My grandkids were his grandkids. He gradually took over the role when I was away from Arawa for long spells working in Port Moresby. His passing has been painful for them and other small ones in the family, as much as they had been for us adults.

Despite the age differences between the two of us we always had the ‘vibes’ between us. We never said much and today I regret and wish we had. I knew he carried an awful lot of pain inside him when his marriage landed on the rocks and had a child with another lady.

When the news of Raymond’s death came about, a steady trickle of people came over to our parents home where his body was located. By that evening the number of people had grown steadily and many people continue to arrive and there were many cars and trucks parked outside the residence. Many of the people who came were those Raymond touched with his friendly and disarming personality. He treated people with love and respect and addressed them as ‘brother’, or an 'uncle' or 'aunt' or whichever title suited the person being addressed.

People saw value in the Late Raymond Imako Baria. In the short time, he lived, he moved people to gain popularity as a leader among his peer group. However, in his own home he was never recognized or understood by his own family. Jesus was never recognized and crucified by his own people. Have we done the same here?