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19 November 2017


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Saguma or witchcraft is not real because there is no empirical prove that they really exist. scientific knowledge is lacking and we blame other people for causing sicknesses and deaths. We don't say what is the real causes of the sicknesses and try to find cure and treatment but we keep on saying who did it. what causes it is more real than who did it.

some educated people still believe in saguma and its in their subconscious level and their mind is already fixed. its only time will tell and we will be educated to do away with this conspiracy theory.

I recorded two experiences of supernatural manifestations in two books.

Sean Dorney quoted me on Pages 25 and 26 in his 1990 book - Papua New Guinea: People, Politics and History since 1975 an experience I had after my Form 6 national examinations in 1972. The medium predicted I would pass my examinations and proceed onto High School.

I share in my own book ‘I Can See My Country Clearly Now’ how a pregnant sow had to be killed when I fell ill. The magician said the poor pig had to be killed at the mouth of a spring and appease my late uncle Peruwa who had been killed in tribal warfare before I was born.

I experienced these incidences before independence but when missionaries started arriving and as the word of God took root, the belief and worship in ancestral spirits vanished from Kandep and in other parts of Enga province. Sorcery was never practised or believed in the province to the extent it is done today in modern towns and cities.

Engans used to resolve issues openly, not through sorcery, black magic or sanguma.

I went to school and learned to read the Bible. I realised there are indeed spiritual forces that wage war against each other all the time over us - mankind. Satan and his band of bad spirits take many forms to fool and take control of our lives at every opportunity.

I believe ancestral worship, sorcery, crime, corruption, child abuse, rape, wars, worry, tension, misery, bad dreams, fornication, pride, magic etc etc are all manifestations of Satan and his evil forces. They make our lives miserable. Is this not how it is like today in many parts of PNG, this Christian country of ours?

I am not the best christen there is but happy to be on the good side. I know 50, 60, 70 or even 100 years is not very long a life to live on the face of this earth. We are but mere shadows passing through but yet special in the eyes of the one who created us.

Yet, one does not have to believe if there is a Heaven or a Hell but if we want to enjoy our short sojourn on earth, we have to choose what is right for our country, province, district, villages, families and our own individual lives.

Satan is like a fierce dog. It senses the weak and attacks or influences those people who fear or speak in favour of him.

We writers must beware, Satan can very easily influence our God-given talent to spread its evil influence and its tight grip on PNG society today.

Just count the number of sorcery-related killings in PNG in the last few years.

The ultimate proof that sanguma must exist - England 36-6 PNG. What other explanation could there possibly be?

Earlier this year I moved into a new house in Lufa, Goroka. Two cousins were with me.

The first night went well. however, a strange thing happened on the second night. My cousins and I were sharing a room. They were sleeping on the floor while I took the lone bed.

Suddenly, at around 1 AM, their blankets were yanked from them. They woke up and started screaming and pulling on the end of their blankets while someone or something was pulling on the other end.

The noise woke me up and I got the lights. As soon as the lights were on, the “force” got under the blankets and started messing up with their hands. Their hands were forcefully thrown into the air and clapped.

The whole thing lasted for about five minutes. After a while we heard sounds of scratching on the wall from the room towards the door and everything was silent. The same thing happened again an hour later.

There were a few other attacks on other family members during the year. There have been a number of exorcisms too this year.

How can a frog leaf out from a woman’s vagina? How can I hear a scratch on the wall of my room and not see anything? How can nothing play tug-of-war with two grown men? Was it a trick? And illusion? Was it just my imagination?

Maybe science have an explanation. It has to provide an explanation because I sure don’t wanna be left behind!

I grew in town and have that typical “town mentality”. I considered spiritualism a lie until recently. This experience has forced me to reconsider my views.

I can only speak from my experience. And from that experience I am saying we need to understand the dynamics involved in sorcery before we offer solutions. Brushing it off as an illusion won’t help.

It's an ongoing conundrum that has always puzzled me, how otherwise intelligent people can reconcile a belief in the supernatural, be it supreme beings and gods down to things like primitive sorcery.

We have prime ministers and other people who profess to know what they are doing and yet they trot off to the spin doctors in the churches and apparently swallow all the codswallop these charlatans preach.

Both Jordan and Wardley are well-educated, modern individuals and yet they profess a belief in this rubbish.

It defies logic.

Our very earliest ancestors were a very nervous lot indeed and had good cause to be. They were small, slow, not very strong and had virtually no inbuilt weapons like large teeth and claws. Thus they were easy prey for a host of predators.

They understood very little about the world in which they lived. The causes of natural phenomena were impenetrable mysteries to them. Consequently, events as diverse as earthquakes, eclipses, storms, disease and death were even more terrifying for being inexplicable.

To make sense of the natural world, our ancestors used their large brains, imaginations and mastery of language to create and describe vivid supernatural worlds, populated by gods of various kinds, the ghosts of their ancestors and any number of evil beings upon whom could be cast the blame for the horrible things that happened from time to time.

The supernatural world was a very scary place, populated by beings both malevolent and benign. Humans could only exert any influence over what happened there by observing certain rituals which ranged from prayer sessions to human sacrifice.

Over time these initially quite simple belief systems changed into more and more complex religious systems through which a priestly cast could exert social, political and even economic control over their societies. In this way, the ignorance and superstitious fear which afflicted most people in pre-modern societies could be usefully harnessed to direct how a society operated, almost invariably in ways that favoured the rich and powerful.

The European world was essentially governed and controlled in this way until about 1500 CE, when the Renaissance triggered a scientific revolution that began to offer demonstrably true explanations for many previously inexplicable natural phenomena.

The rise of science threatened the primacy of the ubiquitous Roman Catholic Church and thus was not uncontested. For example, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), an accomplished astronomer and scientist, was found guilty of heresy because he proclaimed that the heliocentric model for the solar system first proposed by Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) was in fact correct.

The Catholic Church of that period held that the Sun and Stars all revolved around the Earth, which thus was the centre of God's universe. It insisted that this was the truth, despite all evidence to the contrary, and described Galileo's views as "foolish and absurd". Galileo was thus placed under house arrest for the remainder of his life, with his meticulously researched and documented discoveries being suppressed until after his death.

Of course, any primary school student now knows that Galileo was entirely correct. In fact, the Catholic Church knew this too but suppressed his ideas not because they were wrong but because they threatened to undermine a key source of its power, which was the ability to offer supernatural explanations to the ignorant and credulous for entirely natural events.

So determined has the Catholic Church been to do this that it is only comparatively recently (1950) that it conceded that Darwin's Theory of Evolution was not inconsistent with its beliefs. Of course, there remain fundamentalist Christian groups all over the world who insist that Darwin is wrong and preach creationism instead.

It seems that the persistence of belief in the supernatural is a more or less universal phenomenon across the world, with even educated people in supposedly sophisticated societies clinging to belief systems for which there is no credible evidence and, very often, much evidence that such systems are based upon entirely wrong ideas.

These comments bring me Jordan Dean's recent article proclaiming that sorcery and "sanguma" are real. Jordan offers what he regards as proof of this fact by offering anecdotal examples, apparently from his personal experience.

Wardley Barry offered the following comment on Jordan's article:

"I am convinced that most of the headlines (about alleged sorcerers) which read "falsely accused" are misguided. The accused are in fact guilty but our courts lack the traditional and spiritual tools to administer justice. There is a need to bridge the chasm between the courts and culture — spiritualism is part of our culture and it is not ignorant. Only then can justice be truly served."

While I was perturbed by Jordan's comments, I was positively alarmed by Wardley's. What he is really saying is that supernatural forces are real and that the legal system and other institutions of PNG should reflect this fact.

In making their comments, Jordan and Wardley are flying in the face of modern science and, in a broader sense, of modernity. They are also, whether they understand this or not, proposing a massive socio-political regression back to the darkest days of fear, ignorance and superstition that bedevilled pre-colonial PNG.

To the extent that there is any truth in what they apparently believe, it lies in the fact that people can persuade themselves that they have been the subject of sorcery and then inflict illness, disability and even death upon themselves through the power of that belief.

While this illustrates rather graphically the power of the human mind, it is in no way evidence that sorcery is real, merely that belief in sorcery can produce real effects. This is a very important distinction.

Scientists have repeatedly demonstrated the healing power of belief, commonly referred to as the placebo effect, whereby because a patient believes that a medical procedure or drug will work, it does work. This occurs even if the procedure is faked or the drug taken is in fact inert.

It follows from this that if a person strongly believes in malign sorcery then he or she is liable to fall victim to it.

It is significant that in the colonial era it rapidly became apparent to so-called sorcerers that their efforts to harm or kill Europeans invariably failed. It was sometimes assumed that they were invulnerable to sorcery because of the power of their own (usually Christian) belief systems. However, the simple explanation was that Europeans did not believe in the supposed power of sorcery and ignored it, so it didn't work.

Let's be very clear about the supernatural: it is an invention of human beings and has no existence outside of the imaginations of believers. The science on this is crystal clear, with not one shred of credible evidence to sustain the idea that there exists a world outside of the natural order of the universe. This applies to Christian belief systems just as much as it does to those traditionally found in PNG.

Consequently, there is no plausible way that any lawyer could rationally or logically demonstrate that sorcery or any other supposedly supernatural phenomena are real.

Jordan and Wardley are entirely wrong in their beliefs but I doubt that anything I say can change their minds. As a direct consequence, they make themselves vulnerable to those who maliciously use the beliefs of others to manipulate them or do them harm.

It was ever thus: the ignorant, the credulous and the stupid are easy prey for the many human predators who live in our midst.

It will be an evil day indeed for PNG if Jordan and Wardley's notions about the supernatural world are acknowledged as even plausible let alone true.

Sorcery has been part of our culture for a very long time. It is as real as anything. The thing is it cannot be solved using Western instruments.

The West with its rationalism and empiricism will continue to wave it off as an illusion of the ignorant. But unless they experience what we experience, they will never know how to relate to sorcery.

Sorcery related cases will always be deemed "accusation based" as long as we use Western instruments to address them.

I spent a full year in a Sanguma zone (a village in Lufa, EHP) and I tell you none of the training I received at university can prepare me for the horrors of sorcery.

The stories told, the confessions made by the Sanguma women, the exorcisms... when you've seen it all, you will realize that spiritualism is true and you cannot use logic or science to bring about justice. It's like there's a parallel universe to ours and through sorcery these women source its powers for ill gain.

From the confessions, a dark power drives them to attack other people. It's like an addiction that must be surfeited every now and then.

I am convinced that most of the headlines which read "falsely accused" are misguided. The accused are in fact guilty but our courts lack the traditional and spiritual tools to administer justice.

There is a need to bridge the chasm between the courts and culture — spiritualism is part of our culture and it is not ignorant. Only then can justice be truly served.

I had to abandon a research on sorcery because it got pretty scary. The strange things that happened, believe me, it wasn't my mind playing tricks on me.

Brushing aside sorcery will not solve the issue. It's way too complicated.

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