AUSTRALIA & ST PAISIOS OF MY HEART
Photos: Papua New Guinea
Orthodox priest survives
tropical hell of Papua New Guinea
LETTERS FROM AN EX 2X2
Archpriest Nikolai Nesprava is known in as “extreme father.” In the summer of this year, he traveled to the jungle of Papua New Guinea. The priest wanted to get acquainted with the life of aboriginal people, who live under the laws of the Stone Age and practice cannibalism. Pravda.Ru interviewed the priest upon his return home.
“How were you welcomed by the tribes of Papua New Guinea?”
“The communication with the Papuans was an amazing experience of communication with the people, whose language we don’t know. There is a gap of thousands of years between us, because they still live in the Stone Age. But the people could understand me. There is a language that is understandable to all humans. This is the language of sincerity, mercy and love. Those people could understand this language very well.
“Warriors are always armed there. When we were trying to approach them we could see the muscles of their arms and chests pulsating. They are very cautious, and they are ready to respond to attacks any moment. Then we started communicating with them, and they put down their bows and arrows. I can’t say that I was happy with everything. On the one hand, I returned alive and practically healthy. On the other hand, when I was looking at the photos that we had taken, I realized that I had not photographed many remarkable moments. I had to throw myself on the ground to take amazing photos.”
“You wrote that the first several days in Papua New Guinea were like hell to you.”
“By the first night of my stay there, the soles of my shoes were deformed, and my legs were aching terribly. I used to serve in special forces and I always thought of myself as a physically prepared man. The jungle was extremely hard for me, though, to my own surprise.””The jungle is usually referred to as “tropical paradise.” As a matter of fact, this is real tropical hell. A local tribe builds homes on pales, up to 30 meters high, and they do it to save themselves from the water that always falls down on their heads from above. The people live in those homes together with their pigs and dogs. During two weeks of our stay there, we saw sunlight for about an hour and that was it. If we had to walk through the jungle, we would be walking through water. We could hardly catch up with the people walking in front of us. Those people were walking naked and barefoot. I was wearing a special military costume, which would always save me in various extreme situations. In the jungle, it was a torture to wear it because it was too hot. When I tried to take it off, I immediately discovered that there were so many plants around that would cut my skin like a knife.
Map of Papua New Guinea
“What are your impressions of the work of Western missionaries? How do they communicate with the Papuans?”
“The missionaries don’t live in the tropics with the Papuans. A white person will not be able to survive there if they stay there for a long time. The missionaries have offices in the cities, from where they sometimes travel to the jungle to communicate with local tribes. It is very hard for many Europeans to realize that the gap between us and the Papuans is incredible. Many tribes discovered that there was some other forms of life in the world only 20-30 years ago. There is a cultural abyss between the modern world and those people living in the Stone Age. They still are unable to see themselves in the modern world.”
“However, they have such a modern phenomenon as elections. I was very amused by their preelection posters. The faces of the candidate are different, but the slogan is the same – “Go Papua!” A local governor, a Papuan, has a gorgeous house surrounded with a steel fence. There are no roads in the country, but the governor has a Toyota. This reminded me of something.”
“To which extent can the lifestyle of one tribe be different from the life of another?”
“Different tribes live differently. Some of them are isolated from the civilization entirely. Others live in the woods, but have contacts with civilization. The parents of Dani tribe don’t wear any clothes, but they send their children to study at missionary schools. Bright kids can then travel to larger islands of Indonesia to continue their studies there. The state makes investments in the development of this territory, but the Papuans do not want to work.”
“Are there any traces of civilization in that exotic state?”
“Civilization has reached Papua, of course. Unfortunately, it has led to negative results: drugs, alcohol, debauchery. The people there can be very unintelligent and rude. I saw a man at the airport there – he was wearing a suit, a tie, but was walking barefoot. Everyone pushes each other when boarding the plane, no one offers a woman to go forward. Strange as it may seem, the Papuans fly airplanes frequently. Small aviation is underdeveloped there, of course. The planes belong to missionaries and private airlines. A plane ticket is relatively inexpensive.”
“The Javans take administrative positions there. They work in banks and hotels there, whereas the Papuans sell their goods to them. They make knives, spears and bows, sell them to the Javans and then buy the things that they need. There are cities in Papua, but they all look very primitive too: a bunch of wooden huts with tin roofs. They have mail offices, Internet cafes and even beauty salons there. The Papuans like to decorate themselves, so they spend a lot of time at the barbers’.”
“The Papuans are considered to be cannibals. There are numerous stories about it in the media. The people who have been to Papua confirm that. What impressions did you get?”
“Well, if you ask them directly, the Papuans go into shell and don’t respond. However, some tribes collect human skulls and keep them at their homes. They have stone axes and knuckles that are capable of crushing human bones. They don’t need such instruments for fishing. Their dancing is connected with martial prowess, and their amulets are connected with human sacrifice either expressly or by implication.”
“Some say that cannibalism in Papua exists because the Papuans suffer from the shortage of food.”
“The Papuans live with the help of gathering. They gather bananas, pine apples, coconuts, they catch fish. They also breed pigs, but pigs are more of a currency for the locals. The tribes suffer from undernourishment, they eat meager meals. There are not many animals to hunt for in the country. Some tribes hunt for crocodiles. The jungle that I saw was gray and dull. I haven’t seen any animals there, except for pigs and insects. Hot-blooded animals can hardly survive there because it is impossible for them to dry their feathers and fur in that climate.”
“There is civilized Indonesia right next to such an exotic country as Papua New Guinea. What are the relations between the Indonesians and the Papuans?”
“The Javans, or the Indonesians, who have been living on the islands of Papua New Guinea for 100 years, and the local Papuans, never conclude marriages with each other. It will never even occur to them. Moreover, they don’t even have inter-tribal marriages. Marriages are only possible if they are concluded inside one’s own tribe. The tribes do not communicate with each other, nor do they maintain any ties with each other. As many as 800 tribes live on the territory that we have been to, and each of those tribes speaks their own language. The neighbors simply don’t understand each other.”
How do Papuan families live?”
“The Papuans have different forms of family life. They live in families in some tribes. Girls would get married at age 13-14. A man is supposed to pay the price of five pigs, as well as sets of bows, arrows and spears. He also gives a necklace of dogs’ teeth. In other tribes, men and women live separately. They meet each other only to make children. Children live with their mothers. When boys turn seven, they are sent to special camps where they become warriors.”
“What is the reason behind intertribal wars? How often do they happen?”
“The Papuans wage wars with each other regularly. The first reason for those wars is women. The second one is pigs. They also fight for the land where their food grows. If a representative of one tribe comes to gather bananas on the territory of another tribe, he can be killed for that.
“When I was staying there, I would often think of Ukraine and my city, Dnepropetrovsk. I often thought that living in Ukraine was hard sometimes. But when you get a chance to see what bad life really is, then you come to realize the advantages that you have. We may have problems with our authorities, there are economic issues too, but we have very good land, on which we can live. In Papua, you can not live, you can only fight for survival.”