From toilet cleaner to Prime Minister, Sogavare tells Solomons youth: ‘never give up’

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare speaking at the UN Summit this morning

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has told an audience of Solomon Islander youth how he rose from the ranks of toilet cleaner to Prime Minister, and implored them to “never give up”.

In an off-the-cuff speech at the three-day UN Youth Innovation Summit in Honiara this morning, the Prime Minster spoke about his idol, Winston Churchill, and told the audience a story about how one of his teachers told him he would be a “Mr Nobody”.

Mr Sogavare dropped out of school and got his first job cleaning toilets and making tea for the British colonial masters at the Solomon Islands Department of Inland Revenue in the 1970s.

“You’re not Mr Nobody,” he told the crowd. “We are counting on you to make a difference.

“And if some of us can rise from making tea and cleaning toilets in Inland Revenue . . . you can do anything.”

In the speech Mr Sogavare opened with a dedication to the wartime British Prime Minister, and told the young audience about a speech where Churchill hobbled up to the podium and just said five words: “never give up, thank you”.

The Innovation Summit itself – the first of its kind in the country – will run over three days this week with discussions about how to encourage innovation and peace in the country, and how the young leaders of today can promote it.

Today discussion focused on “social innovation projects” across the country and youth entrepreneurship.

The forum, at the National Auditorium, runs until Wednesday.

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