Saksak & Sanguma
john.burton at tsra.gov.au
Tue Sep 3 09:28:26 EST 2002
Thanks Thomas. Excellent work as usual. I must apologise for the dearth of
new entries recently (work, book reviews etc).
As it happens, a Lihirian visited me last week with one new item of
information on the topic of sanguma. A man from Matatukuen village, Masahet
Island, NIP, called Lupak was a policeman in German times, dying in the
1950s or 60s. He always maintained that he had been to Africa, "another
country with black people in it", which educated Masahet islanders late in
his lifetime apparently thought rather far-fetched and disbelieved him. But
my informant, Luke Kabariu, says he now recognises that he must have been
telling the truth; there is no argument, I should say, that Lupak was in the
police force of German New Guinea. Although I do have genealogies for the
whole of Masahet, they are rather shallow and only a modern Lupak appears in
them, not the old police fellow.
This is a reminder that the Southern African sangoma 'killer witch' theory
is at least feasible. Presumably the Germans would have had their colonial
police in Namibia and Tanganyika. Does anyone know for sure if sangoma is
known in Namibia as it is in South Africa?
I don't have the Murphy reference, but we do need more detail on sanguma in
the Monumbo language of Bogia, and indeed some proof that it hasn't entered
that language from TP, to attribute the term to this place.
From: Thomas H. Slone [mailto:THSlone at yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 3 September 2002 5:44 AM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: Saksak & Sanguma
1. John Burton asked for additional entries for saksak. Quotes are from
Wantok's Stori Tumbuna
2. John asked for other variants on the definition of sanguma. Murphy
(1985: 100) defines sanguma rather specifically: "The term originally comes
from Madang where it was used to describe a species of malign sorcery and
also the person gifted with the power of performing it. It was performed by
bringing about an apparent mesmerism of the victim by the sorcerer who then
led him to his assistants and then the thorns were pushed into parts of the
body where it was desired pain or illness would manifest itself and
eventually cause the death of the victim. A short thorn was pushed into
the tongue causing it to swell so that the victim could not talk and tell
the name of the sorcerers. The thorns were dipped in a special secret brew
which apparently rendered them poisonous. The victim invariably died. The
term has spread to other parts of the Territory to describe similar sorcery
where the victim first undergoes mesmerism or is frozen with fright."
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