Every country has a special person that stands out among the usual citizens. In Fiji we have Kaliova Seleiwau from Balevuto in Ba, who is the tallest man at seven feet, eight inches.
The Solomon Islands also have their tallest man and he is 20-year old, Peter Iroga. Peter is seven feet three inches and is also the tallest student at the University of the South Pacific.
Iroga is doing a double major in Management and Public Administration and Industrial Relations at USP and is in his second year. He comes from the Malaita Province in the Solomons. He is the youngest in a family of four and is glad to be in Fiji. His brother is also tall but falls short by a feet and three inches and is currently in Belgium.
"I am the tallest and it can be very uncomfortable at times but I get to meet a lot of people and it is great and fun," said Iroga.
When Iroga walks around the University campus one cannot resist the urge to turn and watch the magnificence of such a tall man. Striding slowly through a sea of stares is a challenge in itself but he is used to it.
He ambles along to his classes everyday with a humbled stoop in his shoulders and a slow smile making him an image of great individuality. Like a gentle giant in the midst of everyone.
Iroga's abnormal growth is a result of a growth hormone in his brain which became evident in 2000 when doctors found that he was a little too big and tall for his age.
"They took an interest in my case," he said.
After undergoing many medical check-ups he recently received word from a medical facility in Australia that the only way to cure this growth is to have the growth surgically removed.
"After receiving a CAT scan from Australia I understood that normal growth hormone is 0-40; my growth hormone is 100-145. I have been in consultation with the Colonial War Memorial hospital doctors and those back at home and I am awaiting word on whether or not I will be operated on," he said.
Genetics has a supreme hand in his case. Iroga has a family history of very tall men. His great grandfather was also as tall as he is while some before him were taller.
But this is not all that singles Iroga out among his peers. Iroga is also the second youngest in the Solomons with type-A diabetes.
"I have to have my insulin shots every morning and evening."
We all have our fair share of problems, he said, and although I have these on my shoulders I am coping with it and I will try my best to prosper without it being much of a problem. He has his fair share of problems, for example when he attends classes the seats are normally too small and catching the bus or taxi is another story.
"The taxi drivers have to push their seats right to the front because my legs are really long and some of the classrooms are really low and so I have to stoop real low to get in or risk banging my head on the door frame."
Due to Iroga's growth hormone, he is unable to stay awake to long into the night because his vision blurs if he tries to push through past 10pm.
"My sight starts to fail me and so I have to rest or else I will suffer very bad head-aches for a week or two."
Iroga used to play basketball for the Hurricanes, Super division team back home, a team consisting of the physically disabled.
"I love to play basketball."
However, Iroga does not have time to have his special gifts weigh him down, instead, he is a strong young man with a bright future ahead and nothing is going to stop him from getting what he has in mind.
"I discipline myself and adhere to a very strict diet which normally consists of a lot of vegetables and nothing too sweet because that is bad for me."
Iroga attended Lilifia Primary school and then spent Forms one to three at Gwaunatolo Community High School then he attended White River Community High and finished off at Honiara High.
He finds difficulties in finding suitable clothing.
"I have to look really hard or get them ordered."
He went shopping two weeks ago for shoes and found that the largest size they had was size 17. Iroga, however, is a 22 and is getting his ordered shoes next week Monday. They are specially made for a big guy.
Iroga lives at the USP dorms and says he enjoys being in Fiji and has made many friends over the past year.