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PAPUA NEW GUINEA: THE PACIFIC'S NEW HAITI

by KLEO LEORNADE

With improvements in Health, Wealth, Education and Justice in the 20th and 21st Century most countries in the world have to a large extent moved on from accusing and burning of witches in medieval Europe to accepting Wica (witchcraft) and sorcery in the west as mere “curiosities” that in reality are non-existent extensions of a warped mind.

However, in few emerging (or ‘yet to emerge’) states where poverty and social oppression within an environment plagued with deficiencies in Health, Wealth Education and Justice, there continue to be strong beliefs in witchcraft, sorcery and the occult.  This is because the people find comfort in the supernatural to explain their ill fates because of their ignorance or deficiency in explaining the causes of deaths, loss of jobs, exam failures, passing the blame, bad luck, bad weather patterns, and crop failures, are all easily explained by Science nowadays.

There is a regression in society’s development with people embracing their ancestral supernatural beliefs and practices and adapting that to the modern settings.  The Mass Hysteria and Adrenaline rush of Initiation Rites and Sanguma “Kangaroo Courts” against a backdrop of an environment devoid of the trappings of a good health, wealth, education and justice is complicit in ensuring that even the most educated of Papua New Guineans accept and participate in these beliefs.  Police, magistrates, leaders and the educated are now no different than the ignorant in the propagation of this vicious cycle of beliefs.

Thumbs up to the Simbu culture of Sanguma (an imported brand) which has spread like wildfire throughout the settlements to the other highlands cultures and now into the highlands provinces and now the country.  The coastal societies have their own brand of similar cultural concepts; Paipai of Milne Bay, Garamofa of the Markham and more which developed to explained what they cannot explain.  All these cultures are now merging into the concept of Sanguma initiated by the Simbus. 

Quite similar to the Congolese Voodoo religious culture which when brought to America by the West African slaves was merged with Catholicism and evolved into the modern day Voodoo religion.  In Haiti ‘The elites preferred to view it as folklore in an attempt to render it relatively harmless as a curiosity that might continue to inspire music and dance…”. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere spurned initially by poor slaves after their revolt against their French masters and spurred on by the oppressive dictatorship of Duvalier and his descendants. 

Here too poverty, lack of education, health services and justice provided fertile grounds for the growth of Voodooism.  During the invasion of Haiti by the US Army the Voodoo priests and worshippers threatened to annihilate the US soldiers with the power of Voodoo, the US army landed and lo and behold absolutely nothing happened.

Papua New Guinea is now the new Pacific Haiti (Nouvelle Haiti), poverty-stricken, lacking in Health, Wealth, Education and Justice services.  The only way forward is an improvement in leadership and distribution of wealth to avail to the population good Health, Wealth, Education and Justice.
STOP THE SANGUMA ACCUSATION NONSENSE NOW