Photo Credits: IOM/Muse Mohammed
In a modest apartment in the capital of Papua New Guinea, Daniel and his extended family of 18 are living cautiously. Originally from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Daniel, alongside his twin brother and their entire family, enjoyed respectable positions in local governance while making a decent living which was hard to come by in his village. Daniel’s family was one of the few families in his village that were well educated and literate, something that was always highly enforced by their mother.
Daniel and his five year old daughter Shiba came to the capital from their hometown of Bougainville with his extended family where they all had well-paying jobs thanks to their education, which has allowed the family to persevere during hard times. Due to the fact that their village consists of largely illiterate people, rumors began to emerge back in the late 1980s that the family was using sorcery to manipulate their good fortunes.
Back in the day, these claims would often get disregarded as nonsense made by those who were either ignorant or jealous of them.
The years of accusation of sorcery towards Daniel and his entire family cumulated in 2013. One evening in 2013, an angry mob consisting of four villages worth of people came to his house and brutally murdered his mother and burned their entire home down. Daniel and the rest of his family were able to escape through the help of their in-laws and their villages who intervened before the mob could kill the rest of his family.
Since then he and his family were relocated to Port Moresby where they kept a low profile for two years while they battled issues of depression and anxiety. Ultimately, many members of the family were able to find new jobs through their education and are beginning to slowly rebuild their lives.
“Regardless if it is true or not, once you get branded as a sorcerer, everyone views you as evil and with hatred.”
Currently his daughter is too young to understand what happened to her grandmother; Daniel insists that one day he will teach her about the misconceptions of sorcery as well as the value of education as it is one of the many tools that have helped his family survive during the whole ordeal.