Sorcery, Witchcraft and Christianity in Melanesia
There’s a new book due to be published in PNG titled Sorcery, Witchcraft and Christianity in Melanesia. The book is co-authored by Franco Zocca and Jack Urame and will be published by the Melanesian Institute in Goroka later this year.
Now, what caught my eye about this book is not just its title, but also the fact that the publication is the first volume of a two-piece dissemination which took five years to research.
Another point that grabbed my attention is that one of the four major topics of the book is an annotated bibliography on literature written by different authors over the years about sorcery and witchcraft in PNG and Melanesia with a short summary of each book included – covering the different religious beliefs and practices dispersed throughout PNG and Melanesia.
Sorcery and witchcraft is prevalent in PNG – it is believed in, it is used, and it is effective. I believe in it. Indeed – I’ve witnessed things that have no plausible scientific explanation to their occurrence other than the fact that they must be supernatural.
In fact, I have a Great Uncle whose official job is to do such work. He’s been to Malaysia (all expenses paid), and has been asked to do similar work in Hong Kong and Australia. He’s been hired to win elections by certain contesting and aspiring MP’s in PNG and has traveled extensively from coast to coast as a result of his work.
He hops on planes for free, he’s been refused entry onto ships because of no ticket then after a simple phone call been let on for free – and all this from a man who wears a laplap and carries a basket and who never progressed past Grade 6 at community school.
Sorcery and witchcraft are usually appointed as being evil, I’m not going to argue that particular point. What I would like to say is that many of these traditional beliefs and practices around PNG may also be simultaneously classed as traditional knowledge and consequently argued that they play an important role in the culture of the peoples of PNG.
So, I guess the question is, do we try to “save” some of this traditional knowledge based on the premise of culture, or do we “destroy” this evil phenomenon as some people term it?
For copies of the book contact the Publication Department, Melanesian Institute on tel (+675) 732 1777 or Fax (+675) 732 1714 or PO Box 571, Goroka 441, EHP, Papua New Guinea.
Orders and copy of any direct deposit slip may be sent via airmail, fax (+675) 732 1214 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.