Education needed to change sorcery mindset


Sorcery is a term normally associated with rural areas in Papua New Guinea.
It connotes the kind of behaviour one would find in a village or a setting where people are not aware of the wider world and of modern society.
The last place one would expect to find a case of a sorcery-related killing is in the midst of the country’s largest city – Port Moresby. Metropolitan Superintendent for Port Moresby Police Benjamin Turi made comments this week that indicate this kind of mentality is more pervasive then thought and that there are those among the city’s population who have no qualms about seeking out and murdering another on the basis that he or she is thought to have practiced sorcery.
“Sorcery related killings are on the rise now. It is the case that involves people within a family attacking each other. It is happening in a little tribe from Eastern Highlands that resides in the city,” Turi said.
He said there were no laws covering such sorcery cases.
“It is straight forward murder because they are not doing it in their village but in the city,” he added.
The belief and in deed fear of sorcery is widespread in PNG however most of the cases have been isolated to rural areas in the provinces and to urban areas that are easily accessible by people from the villages and the districts.
Turi said more needed to be done by authorities toeducate the general public on the laws covering murder even for the reason of sorcery.
He felt compelled to raise this concern following two cases that happened over the weekend. One happened at Buswara settlement at 9-Mile in Port Moresby last Friday where a man from Eastern Highlands was accused by his family over sorcery.
Turi said a group of his relatives went to the settlement and allegedly attempted to kill him but police intervened.
Turi said another had happened at Badili yesterday where two people were confirmed dead.
He said their bodies were found inside their house after they were allegedly killed by their own relatives after they suspected them of sorcery.
They are also from Eastern Highlands. Turi said six of the suspects involved were arrested and in police custody.
He added that his men were continuing investigations.
One cannot doubt that the killing of a human being is both illegal and morally reprehensible however there is a cultural context which has been unwittingly reinforced by religion to some degree. Papua New Guineans consider themselves to be Christian – that is most people adhere to one of the denominations under the Christian faith.
In the Constitution and the National Pledge, we are reminded that PNG is a Christian nation that follows the values associated with the Holy Scriptures.
Sorcery is an evil practice and condemned in the Bible but we can say that the practice was in existence in one form or another long before PNG became a sovereign and independent nation.
Met Supt Turi is right to say people should appreciate where they are and how the law will measure and weigh their actions.
Murder is murder wherever you are and under any context, so how then do authorities reconcile this with the attitudes of the majority?
The short answer to that question has to be education, as alluded to by Turi.
An uneducated individual or some one who is semiliterate, from a rural community who has the experiences of that culture and the traditions and values it holds ingrained in him or her is more likely act according to those beliefs rather to what modern society and Christian principles holds as ethical, moral and lawful.
Hence, we have groups of people in Port Moresby still behaving as if what is good and proper and accepted in the province can be done in the city – the national capital no less.
But it shouldn’t be that just because people are in the city they should leave their modes of thinking and behaving behind, or worse yet repress them.
The answer is more comprehensive.
Government, police and community leaders in the provinces as well as the city must work in unison to change the mind sets of the people.
It may be costly and time consuming but it will be worth it in the end. What could be more pointless and costly then allowing people to behave one way in one part of the country and another in the other part?

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