Daily Archives: 3 March 2004

Melanesian Brotherhood wins Human Rights Awards

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada reports the winner of the 4th Pacific Human Rights Awards.

FEB. 27, 2004 – The Melanesian Brotherhood — the largest religious community in the Anglican Communion — was awarded the first prize in the regional category of the 4th Pacific Human Rights Awards, for its active role in peacemaking and reconciliation during the 1999 and 2000 ethnic conflict in the Solomon Islands….

The ethnic conflict was between some of the indigenous people of the main island of Guadalcanal and settlers on Guadalcanal from the large neighbouring island of Malaita. The fighting broke out after about 20,000 Malaitans were driven out of Guadalcanal back to Malaita, resulting in the armed conflict between Isatabu (Guadalcanal) Freedom Movement (IFM) and the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF).

Last August, six brothers were killed by one of the rebel groups after going to the west coast of the island of Guadalcanal to retrieve the body of another member of the order who had also been killed.

That is the bravery and sacrifice that won the Brotherhood the human rights award, which was presented to them by the Prime Minister of Fiji, Laisenia Qarase. In 2001 the brothers were also awarded the Solomon Islands Medal for the same role.

Despite peace, the problems in the Solomon Islands still continue, and the Brotherhood still plays an important role in maintaining peace.

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New Guinea Religion and Morality: John Barker Replies to Jared Diamond

John Barker replies to Jared Diamond in The New York Review of Books: LEARNING FROM NEW GUINEA.

In a lively review of David Sloan Wilson’s Darwin’s Cathedral [NYR, November 7, 2002], Jared Diamond writes: “It will surprise most Jews, Christians, and Muslims to learn that this link between religion and morality is entirely absent in the New Guinean societies of which I have experience.” I don’t think they will be nearly as surprised by this assertion as people familiar with New Guinea societies and religions…. Traditional religious beliefs and practices varied immensely throughout New Guinea, but nowhere was morality divorced from religion. Instead, the spiritual and the moral were deeply conjoined–even in the case of warfare, I might add–as has been documented in hundreds of articles and books.

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Morobe Field Diary, August 1976: A Month of Fridays the 13th

Yesterday, Friday the 13th, was no worse than the rest of the days of August, which is month of 31 Fridays the 13th by reckoning of the people along this coast. Em taim nogut: planti sik i kamap, solwara i sulukim nambis, pik i kaikai man, pis i siutim man, bikpela ren i kam wasim bris, kano i go lus, kainkain samting nogut [‘It’s a bad time: many illnesses arise, the sea erodes the beach, a pig bites a man, a fish stings a man, a big rain washes out a bridge, a canoe drifts loose, every kind of bad thing’]. And it’s all true. A fever is going around and has found me among its many victims. It really laid me low and I still haven’t fully recovered. I would advise anyone else doing fieldwork along the coast south of Lae to spend August in Lae or Ukarumpa or something. The SILers working on Kaiwa told me in July they planned to stay in Ukarumpa until September to avoid these hazards.

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Morobe Field Diary, August 1976: Traders, Workers, and Dogs

Last nite the [M.V.] Suena Dubu, a ship belonging to the people around Morobe Patrol Post down the coast a ways, came in and offered goods for sale, a floating store. Seems a German business advisor had his girlfriend (who spoke little English) come to visit and conceived of this business venture as an excuse for getting her (& him) around to see the real New Guinea. I bought tobacco & crackers [ship biscuits] which I was running short of and exchanged a few words with the German man, in about half Tok Pisin, half Tok Inglis, and generally milled around with the other villagers when the two & a few of their (PNGean) crew came ashore to buy a few things. That nite I put on Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos 4, 5, & 6 and let it drift out over the water for them but I’m not sure it was loud enough. They slept aboard the boat, did some business in the morning and chugged out a few hours ago.

The line between me and everyone else in the village expands to include me in the presence of outsiders.

This morning there was a demonstration (one sign) by the fishermen in the village demanding 20 toea/lb for their fish (a 100% raise over the present 10t/lb). They enjoyed themselves.

After most of the week hibernating working on my dictionary, I was getting sore sitting down so much and quite irritated at being interrupted. Part of the irritation was from the fact that I had nothing to share with people verbally. But by Thursday I had pretty much caught up and had about had it so when a younger guy was getting people to beat sago I volunteered. It was the tree of the kolapa (young, i.e., unmarried, man) and mostly it was kolapas who did the work though three ewekapas (young women) helped with the carrying of the pulp to the washers. I raised my blisters again just when my last crop was peeling off and managed to break all but one so my hands are usable if a bit sore today.

Today I accompanied the kaunsil’s family to the garden (the second time I’ve been there). It was just what I needed to stretch my legs, change my scenery and snatch some real peace & quiet. We walked all the way up and over the top of the ridge which I estimate to be about 200 meters above sea level and follows a slope of about 50-60 degrees. The kaunsil is cutting a new canoe just over the top of the ridge. Getting it down to the water is going to be real fun. Getting ourselves down in the rain today was treacherous enough.

I finished Hyman’s phonology text except for the chapter on generative formalisms. I’m well pleased to have brot it with me. But I got hungry for fiction so I dug out an abridged Don Quixote (432 pp.) and have been enjoying it immensely.

The kaunsil’s prize hunting dog that is well behaved and can shake hands (having been raised by a European) as well as leap over wild pigs contracted mange that threatened to destroy his beautiful yellowish-brown coat. I went to town and got some medicine but no one has gotten around to putting it on and the hair continues to drop off, scabs rise and even the hair remaining has lost its luster. And sympathy has begun to turn to disgust–so strange are human emotions. Saving a dog’s skins is just not high on the list of priorities, most of which are subsistence level–repairing the old canoes that were on the verge of falling to pieces, finishing the veranda on my house, cutting the new canoe, gathering food from the garden and preparing it.

Several people have mentioned I’m getting fat! It shouldn’t be surprising but for my usual inability to do so. It does seem like I’ve put on a pound or two. I bet if I shaved people would think I was emaciated.

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