This past Wednesday, Past President Lee Jeffrey shared stories and photos from their travels in Melanesia, including the Papua New Guinea highlands, Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal, Vanuatu and Fiji.
In the 16th century European explorers discovered and exploited many of these communities on the thousands of islands accessible by sea.  However, little was known about the PNG Highlands tribes until the early 20th century.
The primary focus of the talk was on the Wontok tribes of Papua New Guinea, which comes from the Pidgin term for “One Talk” and refers to the societies that developed when you could only depend on those who spoke your language for sustenance and protection.  According to Jeffries, Wontok men are the warriors and hunters, while women do the ‘domestic’ work and most of the farming.  In these communal societies, the practice of giving gifts, called Moka, assures more power to the gift-giver, especially if the receiver is unable to suitably reciprocate.  Most marriages are arranged, with the bride price being negotiated to compensate the bride’s family for loss of her services.  Historically their systems of justice was focused on restorative justice, although in recent years the use of retributive justice is growing.