Biographical entry: Osifelo, Frederick Aubarua (1928 - 2001)

15 October 1928
26 March 2001


Born on 15 October 1928 near A'anangali village in east Baegu on Malaita, Frederick Osifelo was the son of Iromea (q.v.), a Police Station Sergeant who later became District Headman, Native Court President in east Baegu and a member of the Malaita Council (q.v.). With only a very basic education, Fred Osifelo began work as an orderly in the Secretariat in Honiara before transferring to become a messenger in the administration at Auki in 1946. Osifelo taught himself to read. One of his jobs was to burn the wastepaper at Auki, but instead he puzzled through the government documents. Gradually, with the help of the clerks, he learned to read with these documents as his textbooks. By 1949, he could read well enough to work as a clerk in the Auki post office and he began to help some of the local police who were illiterate to write their reports. Osifelo drew the admiration of the European officers for his self-taught literacy and his constant quest for further education. He was appointed as a Grade C Clerk in 1950 and was quickly promoted to Clerical Officer (1951) by District Commissioner Stanley Masterman (q.v.) and Senior Clerical Officer (1954-1960) by District Commissioner Tom Russell (q.v.), who admired his dedication and hard work. Another District Commissioner, Val Andersen (q.v.), also admired Osifelo's drive and ambition. In June 1961 he was chosen to travel to Port Moresby with Tom Russell (q.v.), then Senior Assistant Secretary (Personnel), to attend a study group on the problems of urban youth. In September 1964, he left to attend an eight-month Local Government Training Course at the South Devon Technical College in Torquay. Between 1961 and 1966 he was Assistant Administrative Officer and after a year's study in the U.K. he was appointed as Administrative Officer Class B (1967-1972), only the third Solomon Islander to reach that rank. As a Senior Executive Officer Level B from 1965, he completed a variety of government tasks, including Returning Officer at a Yandina bye-election in 1966 and working as a Magistrate.

In mid-1967 Osifelo returned to work at Auki, and in 1972 he was made a Class A Officer, the highest level then achieved by a Solomon Islander, and was appointed District Commissioner of the Eastern District that December. He was Senior Secretary for Social Services in 1973 and Commissioner of Lands and Surveys in 1974. He served as Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee in 1975 and during the next year was Chairman of the Tribunal for Industrial Disputes. (NS 21 Jan. 1967, 7 May 1967; SND 7 Jan. 1977)

In 1974, Osifelo became Senior Secretary Special Duties, his main task being his positions as Chairman of the Public Service Board, and Chairman of the Governing Council (q.v.). That October he became Speaker of the Legislative Assembly (q.v.). In June 1977 he represented the Solomon Islands at the Queen's Jubilee celebrations and took part in a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting. At independence in 1978, Osifelo remained Chairman of the Public Service Board because it was not possible under the Constitution for him to continue in both chairmanship positions. He was President of the Honiara Club in the early 1970s. Awarded an M.B.E. in 1972, in 1977 he was the first Solomon Islander to be knighted. He died on 26 March 2001. (SIBC 26 Mar. 2001; NS May 1961, 15 Aug. 1965, 21 Feb. 1966, 29 Mar. 1974, 27 Sept. 1974; Osifelo 1985, 50, 54-55; Russell 2003, 101-102; SND 23 July 1976, 10 June 1977; Craig and Clement 1980, 148; David Akin, personal communication, 5 Jan. 2010)

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Related Cultural Artefacts

Published resources


  • Craig, Robert D., and Clement, Russell T., Who's Who in Oceania, 1980-1981, Institute of Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young University, Hawaii Campus, Laia, Hawaii, 1980. Details
  • Osifelo, Frederick, Kanaka Boy: An Autobiography, Institute of Pacific Studies and the Solomon Islands Extension Centre, University of the South Pacific, Suva, 1985. Details
  • Russell, Tom, I Have The Honour to Be: A Memoir of a Career Covering Fifty-Two Years of Service for British Overseas Territories, The Memoir Club, Spennymoor, Great Britain, 2003. Details


  • Solomons News Drum, 1974-1982. Details
  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details


Sir Frederick Osifelo, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, 1974-1978
Osifelo 1985