8 Mar 2007

Vanuatu Cultural Council denies accusations that it promotes use of black magic

4:09 pm on 8 March 2007

Vanuatu's National Cultural Council has denied an accusation by a Member of Parliament that it promotes the use of black magic.

The accusation from Efate MP Joshua Kalsakau, follows last weekend's deadly clashes on the edge of Port Vila which were sparked by accusations that a sorcerer had used witchcraft to kill a rival.

The clashes between people of Tanna and Ambrym islands at the Blacksands squatter settlement near the capital left three men dead, and several people seriously injured.

A two-week state of emergency has been declared with some restrictions on movement between Efate and other islands.

The director of the Council, Ralph Regenvanu, says that its Cultural Centre promotes traditional Melanesian values that are the foundation of the country's constitution, not black magic.

"In all my time, thirteen years, that I've been specialising in the culture of Vanuatu, I've never seen any proof of black magic in Vanuatu. What I have seen is that the whole belief in black magic comes out of talk, comes out of jealousy, comes out of accusations, it comes out of people being cross about something else. It doesn't come from our traditions, it comes from the way we're living today, our society, and it's a reflection of some dissatisfaction that's here."