Yali Singina

Yali Singina (c.1912-1975), a post-World War II leader who attempted to improve the material and spiritual lives of the people of the Rai Coast, Madang. Born in Sor village, Rai coast, Yali first worked as an indentured laborer in the goldfields and then as a hotel waiter at Wau. He attended the Rabaul Police Training School in 1937 and was employed in the Administration police force. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant and sent to Australia for training. During the war Yali served with the Allied Intelligence Bureau of the Australian Army where he was apparently told that PNGans who cooperated with the Allies would be rewarded after the war. He was promoted to sergeant major – the highest rank awarded a PNGan in the Australian army.

Yali fought with the Australians against the Japanese throughout the war. After the war he returned to the Rai coast and established a Rehabilitation Scheme which he and his people hoped would be funded by the Administration as a reward for their wartime services. Yali encouraged the people to build European-style houses and villages, cease fighting, establish businesses and plant cash crops. When the Administration failed to provide the support that the people expected Yali became disillusioned, renounced Christianity, and became the leader of a cargo cult. In 1950 he was jailed for five years for incitement to rape connected with the cult’s sexual practices. Yali was president of the Rai Coast Local Government Council from 1964-66 but failed to win a seat in the House of Assembly in 1964 and 1968.

More about Yali: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/yali-12084

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