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Murder - all because of a bottle of beer

Niunk road junction
Niunk road junction where the Kandep-Mendi road joins the roads to Wabag and Porgera gold mine. And recently the scene of death, carnage and mayhem


LAIAGAM - Niunk village is on the road to Porgera gold mine, a kilometre away from Laiagam station.

The surrounding tribe, known as Samb, is made up of six clans: Kamul, Lapyen, Tingen, Maralin, Lot and Malwan. And these six are divided into of several inter-clans.

There are many chronic issues here and frosts, droughts, landslides, bushfires and floods shape the land.

But there is worse - human violence. Criminal activity, drunkenness and drug taking, and much, much more.

Until recently, Niunk village was governed by the rules set handed down by our ancestors. The elderly people took very seriously their role of maintaining our honourable traditions.

But the current generation has been subjected to other influences. So sexual misconduct, drunkenness (beer and homebrew) and drug taking are common problems.

The four major issues confronting youths are lack of schooling due to school fee problems, lack of discipline at home, unemployment, and law and order problems.

Often youths will go to the Niunk beer club without enough cash. Maybe they have five kina for just one bottle. They keep their eyes on the other men, and seek to sly them for a bottle. If a fellow does not give one up, then a dispute ensues.

Just last Thursday, Niunk village was completely enveloped by fire and smoke. Houses were alight, trees cut down, gardens destroyed, animals slaughtered - and two young men were killed.

The conflict arose at the beer club at near midnight when two drunkards fought over a bottle of beer. A youth from Niunk punched a guy from the nearby village of Lakeress.

When the victim informed his clansmen, they came armed and burned down the guilty youth’s house.

A boy ran after them and, when they saw him attempting to fight back, they chopped him to pieces.

Then early Friday morning, four clansmen of the Samb tribe, equipped with high-powered guns, fired gunshots at the funeral of the dead boy. Then about 500 men armed with weapons descended on Niunk village.

The villagers ran off with the body, to frightened they took no property from their houses, only the children.

Meanwhile, a technical school student from the Layen tribe went to watch the fight and got too close. He was chopped with axes and knives, his body later taken to Wabag.

The Papet clan of Niunk did not want to fight back, the village has sworn against tribal warfare. So they allowed the police to stop the fighting and right now there is a pause.

Two young men have been killed, reconciliation was made two days ago and tribesmen have demanded compensation. The pig has now become the reconciler and peacemaker.

My personal feeling is that this recent tribal fighting in my village is appalling. The property damage, the lives lost, villagers refugees on their own land.

This is modern Engan ethics, to fight without good cause.

Porap Gai at home in Enga
Porap Gai at home in Enga

My village is utterly destroyed and I am in mourning.

My three houses have been burned down, three pigs belonging to my younger brother have been taken and trees and gardens have been devastated.

And it did not start from the whole community. It was just two stupid people.

But then everyone was involved.

The Enga tribesmen who exchange innocent lives for pigs seem not to evaluate the consequences of such madness.

These attitudes that cause such immense loss need to change. Our people need to change.


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Porap Gai

Firstly I would like to thank Keith Jackson and friends of PNG Attitude for the quick response and hard work in editing and publishing my work.

This article will remain as a legacy of my village and people, this will be the news of one of Enga's tribal fights.

It utterly destroyed my village, two young men lost their lives and villagers became refugees.

The problem caused by a beer bottle.

We Engans need to change this attitude and transform to accept law and order.

Thanks everyone for reading and commenting,

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