Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare celebrated his 61st birthday with his wife Madam Emmy and their children Brandt, Shannon and Marydel and other family members in a private function at the Taiwanese Fusion Restaurant in Honiara on Monday.
Marking the event with the Sogavares were the Minister for Police, National Security and Correction Services Hon Stanley Sofu and his wife, Minister for Rural Development and his wife and staffers from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Shannon presented a speech titled ‘You are the man’ to thank her father for being the great father he is to her and her siblings whilst Brandt read out a poem expressing similar sentiments. Shannon and Brandt were later joined by Marydel to sing to their father.
Also gracing the occasion with singing was Honiara City Council Member Hon Ellison Sade whom the Prime Minister regarded as a brother, having been looked after by Sade’s family when he was a student at the Betikama Adventist Secondary School.
In his speech on the occasion, the Prime Minister thanked God for his continued goodness and leading his life during the last 60 years.
“I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs but all through these, I saw God’s leading and this is something that I will continue to praise the Almighty for. And now I am one year older and I will continue to seek his guidance.”
The Prime Minister also thanked his wife Emmy for standing by him through his ‘rugged political journey.’
“There are a lot of people who I would like to thank for their support in bringing me to where I am today.
“Right beside me here today is my better half. She’s the wind beneath my wings. She always stands by me through thick and thin. She always encourages me and keeps me going on the rugged political journey I travel.”
He added that their three children have brought joy into their lives and have also taught him valuable lessons of fatherhood.
The Prime Minister also thanked his Cabinet Ministers as well as backbenchers for their continued trust and confidence in his leadership despite the political storms they have encountered.
He also acknowledged the Leader of the Independent Group for teaching him a valuable lesson in 2007 when he (the Independent Leader) successfully moved a motion of no confidence against him and replaced him as Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Sogavare said the lesson he learned from the situation was the importance of listening to the views and advice from his Cabinet Ministers and making collective decisions.
The Prime Minister also touched on his student life where he had to endure harsh teacher treatment and ridicule by other students for his shabby uniform because his missionary parents could not afford to buy him an extra set.
He said the hard life he had been through has been the driving force behind his rise from being a toilet cleaner in the Inland Revenue Division in the Ministry of Finance and Treasury to be the first Solomon Islander to be the Commissioner of Inland Revenue and later as the Permanent Secretary of the same ministry.
Prime Minister Sogavare entered politics in 1997. His current term as Prime Minister is his third since becoming a politician. He also served twice as the Leader of Opposition.
He also commented on the occasion that as he will be turning 65 at the end of his current term in Parliament, he will need to decide whether or not to continue in politics.
The Prime Minister added that there are new members of the tenth parliament who have the potential to make great prime ministers and it is his duty as Prime Minister to groom them.