Cult ready for expat exit


South China Morning Post, December 29, 1999

A cargo-cult-like movement that believes the world will go dark on Saturday and all expatriates will vanish has formed in Papua New Guinea. Port Moresby's weekly Independent newspaper said the movement began near the Fly River, a remote area bordering the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya. The weekly said the group was centred on Kikisram village.

Called the Rainbow Church, members have left their villages to build new houses and a large building called the "Dark House".

The group, headed by a "principal", believes that on January 1 the world will go dark and all expatriates will disappear.

The newspaper said it was causing division and ill-feeling among villagers in the area.

It is possible the group is linked to a rumour that the main supermarket in the town of Kiunga was dispensing free food. Hundreds waited outside the store last week in the expectation of food handouts.

Cargo cults are believed to be a reaction to the materialism of Caucasian culture that pervaded Melanesia during the past century. They all share a millennium belief that a mysterious ship or plane will arrive to bring enough food and goods so that people will no longer have to work.

Some of the cults emerged during World War II, when tonnes of US materials arrived on remote islands and beaches by ship and plane. Singapore will deploy its entire police force on New Year's Eve to ensure record celebrations in the city-state go smoothly.

An official said about 10,000 officers, including plain-clothes police, would patrol the streets on the lookout for pickpockets, molesters or troublemakers.


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