PORT MORESBY - The Western world’s Satan and Papua New Guinean sanguma (sorcery) seem to be similar concepts but Western religious scholars dictate that the Trinity and the college of angels (including Satan) exists in the ether but sanguma does not.
This view defies logic because both Satan and sanguma are associated with evil and are on the same side of the coin.
No Christian (verifiably anyway) has seen the Trinity, angels, the intercession of the Saints or Satan yet they believe in their existence and control over the peaks and troughs of life.
However, sanguma, exactly the same concept as Satan, is stamped ‘null and void’.
The word ‘Satan’ appears in the bible 59 times and is an umbrella term for evil. Likewise, sanguma is part and parcel of animism, a Melanesian worldview which refers to evil just as Satan does for the West.
So it seems sanguma is just a primitive myth of some poor black people in the far-flung islands of the Pacific while Satan is real because it was coined by the Greco-Romans in a civilised Europe blessed by Christendom.
Christianity came to New Guinea in the late 1800s but animism and belief in the supernatural, including sanguma, have been part and parcel of the Melanesian worldview since well before the birth of Jesus Christ.
In a bizarre twist, contemporary PNG society now sees sanguma as Satan and vice versa. In other words, PNG Christians now lightly accept Satan and sanguma as substitutes.
If you ask someone who recently killed a neighbour who was believed to be a sorcerer, the killer will arrogantly say ‘we have killed someone who possessed the power of Satan’.
You can see how the Western world’s Satan has had an influence on the way that modern Melanesians understand both sanguma and Satan.
Many people down history’s pathway have lost their lives due to their belief in supernatural beings. In fact, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, animism and the rest have been amongst the worst perpetrators of human misery and tragedy.
God can also be described as more of a villain than a saint. The bible tells stories of God as a figure who brings about much human suffering and disaster. Perhaps more than Satan. In history, religion is associated with so much wretchedness and misfortune.
Whichever way it is, Satan is the villain in Christianity as is sanguma in Melanesian animism.
Just like Christians, Melanesians belief in the existence of their dead relatives in an elevated rung of existence beyond life on earth. They also believe that evil powers, similar to those possessed by Satan, exist and influence events such as death and illness in people and animals.
Christianity enable people to genuflect before images of the Trinity and the saints. Melanesians similarly revere and appease tribal ancestors who died in years past.
In the Christian tradition, the 13th-century Catholic philosopher St Thomas Aquinas offered five logical arguments to prove the existence of God.
Melanesians can also provide convincing proof of sanguma’s existence. But the West will not listen, while Aquinas was made a saint.
Analysing these inconsistencies given to us by the cultural hegemony of the West, we see no surety but intolerable bias and illogic.
Both the West’s Satan and PNG’s sanguma should not exist in the ether or the mind’s eye. However, if the West’s Satan and college of supernatural beings exist than logic calls for sanguma to also exist.
Melanesians cannot be expected to be like a sponge, absorbing any liquid we are placed into. We have to think and act calculatedly like Plato and Aristotle and the other sharp thinkers of human history.
As for me, sanguma only exists in the consciousness of Melanesians just like Satan or Dracula do to Anglo-Saxons.
It is about time both Satan and sanguma and other supernatural forces were erased from both the pulpits and the mind’s eye.
Perhaps only then will we be able to put a halt to a continuing chain of human tragedy.