They saw the white man arrive laden with consumer goods whose origin they could not imagine. Zoologist Dr Tim Flannery, was frequently asked how he managed to live without working. It was almost impossible to explain to the villagers that his actions - organizing and hiring locals to collect animals for museums - was his work, with his livelihood stretching back to a financial network in another country.
Nobody was to be made unhappy, and the store enjoyed increasing popularity. Here was evidence of how smoothly business could be run if only the New Guineans took over the management. Here was proof of the exploitation practised by the Europeans. The people were not mistaken after all in expecting cargo. Naturally it was a European, a missionary, who spoiled things by discovering the debt at the annual stocktaking. (Friedrich Steinbauer, Melanesian Cargo Cults, new salvation movements in the South Pacific, University of Queensland Press, 1979, pp 60 -61, translated by Max Wohlwill from the 1971 German original.)
However, he succeeded in gathering around him twelve men who constituted a stormtroop which terrorized the inhabitants of the surrounding villages. They were six Roman Catholic and six Methodists who tried to realize the goal of their cargo ideology by force. Their leader supplied them with a magic article derived from an old magic prescription called Samuka, which was alleged to give each recipient the strength of ten men. Whoever remained faithful to the church was persecuted by this group.
This unique movement had an abrupt ending, through an equally unique action by several spirited mission assistants. A lame teacher plucked up enough courage to challenge those who had the "strength of ten" and organized a solid fight with them. The mission's "fighters for God" won and thoroughly discredited the braggarts. The victory was looked up as a divine judgement and was honoured by a spontaneous religious service on the coast. The crowd rejoiced: "The Samuka has lost its power! Praise be to God!" Pokokoqoro was finished and he withdrew. Only a part of the collected monies would be repaid, but that was not the main concern of those who had been deceived by him. The decisive factor for them was that their faith in Christ had proved its strength and power. This experience lifted them almost to the heights of the prophet Elijah who on Mr. Carmel was victorious over the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18, 17-40)
Lagit, the luluai [village headman] of Sek-Abar and an ex-catechist of the Roman Catholic mission there, planned a sacrifice in honour of the ancestors. The Catholic Bishop Noser was invited to the ceremony. At first a rooster was brought - presumably it was to be slaughtered. Suddenly a man called Lagundemi stepped out of the crowd, knelt down and was beheaded by Lagit with a large bush knife. The public was shocked. However this deliberate sacrifice was consistent with Yali's repeated statements that Jesus had died for the Europeans, that they only had been redeemed.
Lagit was convinced that at the moment when the blood of the sacrifice touched the ground the world would be wonderfully transformed. He was surprised when nothing happened as a result of the voluntary sacrifice. [Steinbauer, p 54]
But lest you start to feel superior to these ignorant savages, may I remind you that in recent decades there have been a number of mass suicides by cults predominantly involving white people from sophisticated Western societies.