14 April 2004

Morobe Field Diary, December 1976: Intervillage Conflict

I've had good cause to be ashamed of my village mates lately. While I was in Lae, three who attended a school party in Kuwi chased a bunch of Paiawas looking for a fight with them. They didn't catch any fortunately. There was little provocation except for the general bad feeling be/ Paiawa & Siboma.

Then the pastor (of Paiewa, Kuwi and Siboma) brought word back from his trip there that the Paiawa were angry and were considering coming over for a brawl at Christmas time (when reinforcements from town will be in both villages). He advised the Sibomas not to go off into the bush separately but to stick together in doing things. For several days following that there has been constant talk of war. It really pissed me off and disappointed me. I'm not particularly worried that anyone would strike me, nor even that the Nus. wouldn't be able to withstand an attack (they outnumber the Paiewas, esp. in young men). But I do have some vulnerable papers and stuff that I'm pretty concerned about preserving anyway.

So today, Dec. 14, the kiap ['patrol officer'] came and told the Nus. (and presumably the Paiewas as well) that if any further trouble came up he would bring 10 police, a large boat, hold summary court and cart the guilty ones off to 6 mos in jail (which people are not fond of being in). Peace may result if Numbamis and Paiewas hold a peace meeting before the kiap in Morobe and straighten themselves out.

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