Solomon Islands

21 Mar 2011

by Marc Passion

A Dangerous Game

On our way to work this morning we encountered local villagers walking on the road and more than likely intoxicated. It was around 5am and still extremely dark. The streets of Honiara and more so the outskirts aren’t very well lit up.

Our driver slowed down so we wouldn’t hit the villagers. Next thing we know a rock hits the window frame of the van. It didn’t break but as we sped up to get away a second rock the size of a cricket/baseball came crashing through the window narrowly missing one of my work colleagues.

Had he not ducked it would have hit him right on the side of the head!

We were aware of the violence that had been in the Soloman Islands previously.

In early 1999 long-simmering tensions between the local Gwale people on Guadacanal and more recent migrants from the neighbouring island of Malaita erupted into violence. The ‘Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army’, later called Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM), began terrorising Malaitans in the rural areas of the island to make them leave their homes. About 20,000 Malaitans fled to the capital and others returned to their home island; Gwale residents of Honiara fled. The city became a Malaitan enclave.

Last time, the gold mine which we are rebuilding, was operating and employing Malaitan workers. This also was a cause that lead to civil war in the country.

For the mine to be rebuilt, many local villagers have had to be relocated away from the mines lands. New houses have been built for them and large amounts of money (in terms of the Soloman Islands) have been handed over. This has caused unrest amongst different villagers who feel they too should receive money. Hence our incident this morning.

All in all we are safe and the people of the Solomon Islands are great people. I put it down to this. We are in their country. The mine takes over a huge chuck of their lands, forces locals to relocate and destroys the environment. Wouldn’t you be upset?

 

Related posts:

  1. Inside the Mine
  2. Sunset Sky, Up in the Guadacanal Hills

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/seanifool Seani Seani

    Yes mate, I’d be upset too! What work are you doing there? (i might have missed a blog post). Are you rebuilding a mine? Are the villagers scared they’re going to be forced to relocate again? Hope you’re okay out there! Seani

  • Scottmiddlebrook

    Sounds a little to close for comfort. Hope your all ok. Travel safe as best you can.

  • elp

    Jesus… lucky no one was hurt

  • http://www.marcpassiontravel.com Marc Passion

    It was extremely lucky! My workmate that was sitting at the window the rock went through luckily saw the guy bend down to pick the rock up. He then turned and ducked, if not it would have hit him in the temple.

  • http://www.marcpassiontravel.com Marc Passion

    It was close. It seems the people are angry at the mine management and contractors such as my self are caught in cross fire.

  • http://www.marcpassiontravel.com Marc Passion

    I’m working on the construction of a gold mine. It’s almost finished and the last few things to be completed need the villagers to be relocated. It’s been an on going battle to move them. Paying them off, supplying them with beers and a pig and giving them power for music. The anger lies in obviously needing to relocate but also being told they can’t drink water from certain areas as the dams are used for the mining process. The violence from the bus trip came about by jealously from other villages not being paid a cent because they weren’t affected by the mine. The people are angry at the mine management and contractors are caught in the middle.

  • Kelly Middlebrook

    A scary reminder of the fine line between politics and reality; Mines make the financially wealthy much wealthier and the environmentally wealthy much poorer. Most ‘civilised’ societies would be doing more than throwing rocks if some mining mogul threw a few bucks at us and told us to go to some other far away strange land and start life all over again for the sake of digging giant holes in our back yard. Good work Passion on highlighting the issues faced by our international communities whilst travelling rather than the run – of – the – mill travel stories.