Biographical entry: Bogesi, George ( - 1959)

June 1959


George Bogesi from Isabel Island was the first Solomon Islander to be educated as a Native Medical Practitioner at the Fiji Medical School in Suva. In 1927 he had been a clerk at Gizo, when he applied for a traineeship in Suva, where he studied from 1929 to 1930, winning the Barker Gold Medal. Bogesi married in 1930 but his wife died the next year. He returned to work in the Protectorate at several places, one of which was Malaita in 1931 and again in 1936, when he was arrested and sent to Tulagi for trial. Bogesi was based on Savo Island in 1942 when the Japanese arrived. He approached them for payment for medical attention he gave to survivors from a Japanese destroyer that had been sunk. They took him to tend Japanese wounded at Tulagi, where he was interrogated and acted as interpreter. He also helped the Japanese locate coastwatchers (q.v.) and their vessel in southern Isabel, possibly out of hatred for Donald Kennedy, a government officer who was one of the coastwatchers. Kennedy described Bogesi as an 'educated native at loose, without adequate social control' (Butcher 2012, 140), and as arrogant and lacking humility. Kennedy's biographer suggests that Bogesi reacted to Kennedy's inability to treat him with respect and equality befitting his level of education. They both had strong personalities and clashed. However, Bogesi's problems with Protectorate authority preceded his contact with Kennedy. Bogesi was highly educated at a time when Protectorate officials expected natives to know their place (Butcher 2012, 6, 59, 129, 140-141, 179).

Bogesi defected and was taken to Rabaul. The Japanese returned him to the Protectorate and American Marines captured him in August 1945. Bogesi was prosecuted for treason in 1945, tried by Sir Claude Seton, Chief Justice of Fiji and the Western Pacific, and sent with his family to an internment camp at Tatura, Victoria, Australia until war's end. While there, under the supervision of the anthropologist Professor A. P. Elkin, he published several articles on the Bogotu language and history, one of which appeared in Oceania in 1948. He returned to Kotare on Isabel, and remained there until his death in June 1959. He had acquired a bad reputation as a collaborator, but the circumstances were well beyond his control. (NS June 1959; Bogesi 1948; Horton 1970, 49-50; BSIP 27/IV/1 Malaita Annual Report 1937, 27; Butcher 2012, 58-59, 135-140)

Published resources


  • Butcher, Mike, '...when the long trick's over': Donald Kennedy in the Pacific, Holland House Publishing, Kennington, Vic., 2012. Details
  • Horton, Dick C., Fire Over the Islands: Coast Watchers of the Solomons, A.H. and A.W. Reed, Sydney, 1970. Details


  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details

Journal Articles

  • Bogesi, George, 'Santa Isabel, Solomon Islands', Oceania, vol. 18, no. 3-4, 1948, pp. 3: 208-232, and 4:328-357. Details