‘Media, the bridge between people and government’: Julian Maka’a
“The people must understand the government and the government must understand the people.”
Julian Maka’a is a name with a voice well-known to most people in Solomon Islands, having worked in the media industry for over twenty years.
This year marking the Solomon Islands 40th Independence anniversary, he received an award recognizing his work and achievements.
Born and raised in Kirakira Makira-Ulawa province, Mr Maka’a has contributed significantly to the development of the local media industry.
He spoke to SIBC Online soon after receiving his award.
“The award came as a surprise but I would like to set a record for media in Solomon Islands”, he said.
“Media is the fourth arm of the State and as such it is imperative that the people understand the government, and the government understand the people and where they are coming from. It is the work of the media to bring this two to understand each other.
“Which means everything we say must be balanced, they must be facts and not opinions or hearsay.”
Mr Maka’a said the media industry has done significantly well so far.
“We are doing a really good job. We must thank our governments for giving us the freedom. That freedom we must not forget, comes with its own responsibilities.”
Mr Maka’a worked at the national broadcaster, SIBC since the mid 80s, first in the Programs and Presentation department and then, the News and Current Affairs department.
He was among founders of the Media Association of Solomon Islands, MASI. He served as President from 1987 to 1989.
Mr Maka’a during his time at SIBC attended a number of training overseas that spurned his interest in broadcast media.
“In 1987 I attended a radio drama training in Netherlands for three months. Being a sound medium, I really enjoyed the radio programs.
“I also attended the European Broadcasting Union, EBU where we had training about sound feature. You say one word, and you hear a sound. It’s a theater of the mind.
“I attended a lot of conferences too. They inspired me a lot in using radio to impart messages.”
Mr Maka’a resigned from SIBC in 2005 and moved on to become the National Disaster Management Office’s communication officer.
Mr Maka’a’s passion does not revolve solely around broadcasting. He has a passion for creative writing.
“I was inspired by my mother. She would often tell custom stories to the village children, and as I listened I would paint the pictures in my mind.”
Mr Maka’a’s first taste of creative writing came just after he left Tenaru School.
“I met late Celestine Kulaghoe, a Marist Brother who taught us creative writing. He told us to write about anything. I wrote my first poem, about basket-ball. He later told me I have a talent to write.”
Mr Maka’a’s other initial encounter with creative writing came when he was with Post Telecommunication, his first formal employment.
“While I was at Civil Aviation, the USP center organised a workshop in creative writing. We were told a professor from Fiji was coming to run the workshop. It lit a fire in me to write creatively.
“I wrote as if there was no tomorrow.”
In 1985, Mr Maka’a published his first collection of short stories. ‘The Confession and other stories’ was published by the Institute of Pacific Studies, of the University of the South Pacific.
Mr Maka’a has two other stories published online.
“My passion for creative writing is always with me. I will always write.”
He has returned to the national broadcaster, overseeing a project that allows him to practice his love of drama, or ‘ theater of the mind’ as he called it.
“It’s about the stories of the people in the rural areas and the challenges they face daily. The stories should help listeners and the government to understand them.”
The program comes on every Saturday night at eight and will continue until March 2019.
This year, Mr Maka’a was one of seven award recipients at the 40th independence anniversary.
Like most people who were present at the recent celebration, Mr Maka’a was touched by the emotional message rendered by Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela on ‘redirecting Solomon Islands for the next forty years.’
He said two words stood out for him.
“Talk and action. Talk is cheap, we can talk and talk but if we do nothing, what can we achieve?
“Do more and talk less. That should be our redirection.”