What I found interesting about one of our traditional cultural practices is the appeasing of our ancestors’ spirits or local gods. In the past when the people did something that they thought might have angered the ancient spirits, they offered gifts and sacrifices to appease the spirits so the spirits may refrain from striking them and bringing ill upon them, some sacrifices were also offered to the spirits in the spirit realm to ask them for guidance and protection, some gift were also offered to the spirits to thank them.
When reading Sir Ignatius Kilage’s book “My mother calls me Yaltep”, I came across the practice of reconciling with a fellow tribesman. In those days before the arrival of foreigners, bad language was outlawed in the traditional societies according to Kilage’s book. All forms of indecent language were outlawed and should never be found on the lips of the young men. Those who uttered obscenities at another were brought before the council of elders who demanded a pig to be slaughtered by the transgressor, blood of the pig was to be boiled and then was given to the man he sinned against with a red tanget leaf unsaying the bad language. That was the practice in the old days when they transgressed the social or moral code of the society by reconciling.
Kilage said “Knowing that pigs were hard to come by and to avoid disgracing our instructors (teachers of traditional law and knowledge) and our clan, we had to guard our tongues well”. So here we see that for every sin committed against another member of the society, a pig had to be slaughtered for reconciliation, to make right the wrong.
In the ancient biblical days when God called out the Israelites from Egypt into the wilderness and towards the promise land, he asked them to build him a sanctuary so that he may dwell among them. He appointed Aaron as the high priest to take charge of the work in the temple. Those who sinned against God were told to bring a lamb to the sanctuary which was then slaughtered on the altar of sacrifice and the blood sprinkled in inner court of the sanctuary for the remission of sins.
Israelite’s knew lamb/sheep was hard to come by so like the Simbu men, they guarded their actions, thoughts and lips well to refrain from sinning against God. Here we see the similarities of slaughtering animals and using their blood to reconcile against another who they had wronged. In the Simbu society, they reconciled with a fellow tribesman and in Israel, they reconciled with God.
Before God’s law/word arrived in our shores, our people were already practicing some of the reconciliation practices that were practiced in the biblical times as mentioned above. They upheld the laws and social/moral codes of the society, those laws were similar to that of the Ten Commandments in the bible.
As stated that our ancestors’ offered sacrifices and gifts to appease the spirits of the old, Israelite’s also had the practices of offering burnt offerings and sacrifices to God to please him, to gain his favor and love. So we see that our cultural practices and the religious practices of Israelite’s is not so different after all.
That is why when Christianity was preached to the people, they were quick to accept the teaching because it was somewhat similar to their traditional customs, beliefs and myths. They had a belief that there was a higher spiritual power who created the land and everything on it, that is why they came up with their own creation stories. They authored stories of how things came to be trying to explain what was beyond explanation, when missionaries preached to them about the almighty creator dwelling above the clouds, they accepted him as their creator because in their subconscious minds, they knew someone more powerful had to create the world they lived in.
Let us take the traditional myth about Nokondi for example; In traditional mythology, it is believed that the earth together with the sky, the natural environment, the spirit world, and humans are all interconnected as ONE. The creator appointed Nokondi to keep watch over his creations. Nokondi married two sisters who fought furiously over him and ended up spilling their blood on mother earth. The small sister ran down to the lowlands where the Gahuku tribe now exist. It was here that she bled. The spilling of her blood in the lowlands produced the first marata plant. The big sister ran up to the high lands where her blood spilt and produced the first karuka plant.
In the mythology, Nokondi is appointed by the creator to watch over his creations. We know who Nokondi is but little is said about the creator, we therefore ask, “who is the creator?”. In the biblical account of the Israelites story of creation in the book of Genesis, God created the heavens and the earth, and in it, he placed Adam to look after his creation. Nokondi is no different from Adam, they were both created beings and appointed by the creator as stewards to look after the creations of the Creator.
Could Adam’s creator be the same creator that appointed Nokondi to look after his creation? We can only wonder.