30 people have been killed in what locals are calling “tribal warfare” on the island of Kiriwina, Papau New Guinea. Scant details are available but Deputy Opposition Leader Douglas Tomuriesa, who is a local member of parliament for Kiriwina, told local media that 30 people are dead and many seriously injured.
If correct, it is the largest mass killing in PNG since July’s Porgera incident in which 18 people died.
Kiriwina is the largest of the Trobriand Islands, part of the Milne Bay Province. Most of the 12,000 Trobriand live at Kiriwina.
Trobriand is known for its culture of free love and promiscuity, leading in recent years to over population and sexually transmitted disease. Children as young as six years old are known to participate in sexual activities.
The people of the Trobriand Islands are mostly subsistence horticulturalists who live in traditional settlements. The social structure is based on matrilineal clans that control land and resources. People participate in the regional circuit of exchange of shells called kula, sailing to visit trade partners on seagoing canoes. In the late twentieth century, anti-colonial and cultural autonomy movements gained followers from the Trobriand societies. When inter-group warfare was forbidden by colonial rulers, the islanders developed a unique, aggressive form of cricket.
Although an understanding of reproduction and modern medicine is widespread in Trobriand society, their traditional beliefs have been remarkably resilient. For example, the real cause of pregnancy is believed to be a baloma, or ancestral spirit, that enters the body of a woman, and without whose existence a woman could not become pregnant; all babies are made or come into existence (ibubulisi) in Tuma. These tenets form the main stratum of what can be termed popular or universal belief. In the past, many held this traditional belief because the yam, a major food of the island, included chemicals (phytoestrogens and plant sterols) whose effects are contraceptive, so the practical link between sex and pregnancy was not very evident. (Wiki)