Peace returns to Solomons

Published December 1, 2000

Bishop Terry Brown of Malaita

There is now hope that Bishop Patteson Theological College, the main Anglican school on the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, may reopen soon.

The college, in the town of Kohimarama, did not open this fall because the violent and volatile political situation in the Solomon Islands made life too dangerous for students at the isolated school.

But as suddenly as the political situation deteriorated following a coup in the Solomons last June, it seems to have ameliorated, according to Anglican Bishop Terry Brown of the diocese of Malaita on a neighboring island.

“Following signing of a peace agreement, the rank and file of the two militant groups took peace into their own hands and all came into Honiara (the national capital) for peace celebrations which lasted two days and nights,” Bishop Brown, a former Partnerships mission coordinator, wrote in a recent letter.

“The video version of war has been found wanting and now everyone is for peace,” Bishop Brown wrote.

Lorna Reevely, a Canadian Volunteer in Mission librarian, who left Bishop Patteson when the college closed and who has been with Bishop Brown on Malaita since then, is now set to return to her posting. After the college’s closing, Ms Reevely taught home economics at the Airahu Agricultural Training Centre near Auki, the capital of Malaita.

Last summer’s coup in the Solomons followed months of “ethnic tension” between two major groups of militants, one from Malaita and the other from Guadalcanal.

In a series of letters to Canadian friends written over the summer, Bishop Brown described a shattered economy and increasing hardships as staple products ran out and became unavailable or prohibitively expensive.

“Now,” he wrote in his most recent letter, “the bunkers have come down and there is free movement. Guadalcanal people have flooded Honiara and the central market is full again – great abundance, cheap prices.”

At the time Bishop Brown wrote his letter a reconciliation service was planned at the Anglican Cathedral, which was to be attended by the former warring factions as well as members of the public.

Bishop Brown said he is not surprised at the sudden turn of events. “Melanesians are good fighters, but much better reconcilers,” he wrote.


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