Everyday People PNG : Rex Ataembo

Rex Ataembo comes from Katuna, a coastal village in the Ijivitari District of Oro. Katuna is located much closer to the border of Morobe and Oro.

“My education was affected by school fee problem because there were 10 of us in the family and my father had all of us in high school. He couldn’t afford one more so I withdrew at grade 9. After that I got involved in all sorts of mischief, including consuming drugs and homebrew. Later I sought to change my life so I went back to the village.


“I believe that sorcery or Sanguma exists in all provinces in PNG. I read a lot about sorcery related violence and sorcery practices in the newspaper all the time. The newspaper stories of the incidences had me recalling the Sanguma activities I witnessed as a young boy in my village.


“In my society, sorcery is part of our culture. It’s both a weapon and a defense mechanism of a village or tribe. If you have a sorcerer in your village and is well known, you are protected just by his reputation. No one else will try to attack you. But in this era, sorcery has lost its original purpose and people are using sorcery to kill people at random.


“As a young boy and a young adult I had witnessed how sorcerers in my area conspired to kill another person. And the person did die.  You would think that the story will end there but no, relatives of the one killed, will practice sorcery on the alleged killer. The killing goes round in circles like that. You pay back through sorcery.


“The people practice sorcery are known by the community and they are respected and feared. They keep order in the community and also act as defenders of their communities. I also witnessed an occasion where a young man begged for a well-known sorcerer from my village who is like a god, to give him the power to cause a person to climb the tree and fall to his death. I was glad the sorcerer did not listen to that young man.


“Sorcery power is real and it exists in all societies of PNG and the church is the only thing that can overcome it. So the government should work with the churches, fund church activities to combat the myths about sorcery so people can be set free.”

Frieda Kana