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Climate, not God

IT did not take long for people in Fiji to point to Tropical Cyclone Winston as having some connections to a wrathful God seeking to punish people. On social media, from pulpits and in the yaqona circles the link was made between nature and the Creator.

A contributor to social media commented on pictures of a devastated village thus: “You must worship God truthfully.” Given that the village – Nayavutoka in Ra – was the home of the late radical Fijian cult leader Sairusi Naibogibogi, the contributor implied connections between the Category 5 cyclone, the Dark Arts and God. Naibogibogi ran a commune at Nayavutoka, developing it into a well maintained village with a sustainable economy despite the absence of roads and infrastructure.

His messianic leadership led followers to believe he would rise three days after death. That did not happen. But every village on the Ra coast was devastated – even their churches were lost or badly damaged. The Pacific Conference of Churches observed that similar implications were made across the region after natural disasters. General Secretary, Reverend Francois Pihaatae, said it was important for churches to focus on the root cause of disasters, in this case climate change.

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