Eyeglass Assist

Solomon Islands Project


Title: The Black Magic Magistrate

Location : Panatinani Island, Louisiade archipelago, Papua New Guinea


Year : 2010

During the time that we spent in the Louisiades in 2010 helping build the school on Gigial Island we heard mentions of a murder at a place called Grass Island, a small island south of the main group where the largest village in the area was established.

We attended at PNG Independence Day celebrations on Panatinani Island. As it was a gathering place from many people from the surrounding islands we decided it was a great place to set up our Eyeglass Assist Program. One of the people who I spoke to throughout the day was the local magistrate, a man of high status in the community. After we were talking for awhile he started to tell me about the murder that had occurred on Grass Island and I was fascinated to hear the facts, right from the horses mouth so to speak.

He told me that a man had been murdered and the Police had gone to Grassy Island and taken the three suspects into custody, who had been accused of the murder of the fourth person. He said they were currently languishing in prison in the main administrative centre of Misima located 50 miles to the north of the main island group. I was fascinated to hear about the local authorities making sure they maintained law and order in the islands. Then came the most interesting part. I asked him about what stage the proceedings were at and what were the suspects doing in the police prison? He told me that the Police hadn't laid charges as yet as they were still awaiting witnesses to make their way to Misima and provide statements as evidence of the men's guilt.

My next question was "how did they kill the guy? "The magistrate then told me "they put a spell on him and used witchcraft to kill him".  So a magistrate who had significant powers in the community and was a well respected and knowledgable person believed this was all OK. This just goes to show how deeply ingrained superstition is in these people's culture and it is going to be a long and difficult path to a totally western perspective on justice.

By the way, he was wearing a pair of glasses which were broken, and unfortunately even after trying many different strengths we were unable to locate a suitable pair from our stocks for replacement. However I asked him if I could take his glasses back with me to Monkey Fist and I would try and repair them. Upon returning to Monkey Fist I spent several hours cleaning and re-soldering the wire frame on the glasses and replacing the temples until I was confident they were strong and would again be useful to a person fulfilling his important duties. Another satisfied customer.


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