Monday, 26 October 2015

Secrets of Melanesia: A Warrior Wedding




From expeditioncruising.com editor, Roderick Eime, aboard Heritage Expeditions 'Spirit of Enderby' in the Solomon Islands

Monday 26 October 2015. Ngongosila Island. Malaita Province.

Traditionally a somewhat restive region of the Solomons , renown for their independence and fierce warriors. This was demonstrated to us as we came ashore when a horde of howling tribesmen brandishing weapons stormed our Zodiacs when we hit the beach. Okay, some might have been 10 years old and having a ball, but the tradition is clearly not lost.

The community is packed onto a reinforced sand spit, held together by piles of coral boulders shoring up the perimeter. While there are a couple of explanations, it seems this remote location attracts cooling sea breezes across Kwai Harbour, keeping the houses largely free of the pesky mosquitoes which inhabit the coastal mangroves.

Safely ashore, our group is ushered to the 'village square' where a traditional wedding ceremony is being acted out for us. A 'bride', looking suitably mournful, is being prepared for transfer to her groom's family who have paid rolls of shell money and a terrified pig for the girl's consent. At the groom's place, the men dance and chant in warrior fashion celebrating the occasion as well as their success in battle and safe return to the village.

The event culminates in a bit of retail trading, with handicrafts, carvings and massive shells sure to get the attention of quarantine officers anywhere. Right now, Spirit of Enderby is heading due south at 10 knots en route to seldom visited Makira Island.

More info: www.heritage-expeditions.com and www.visitsolomons.com.sb