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By Victoria Buttons, 2011-04-30
Ongka's Big Moka
A Moka is almost like a festival. Pigs, presents and food are given from the Big-Men hosting it to other Big-Men and villagers. To give more gifts than any other Big-Man would gain him the most status. Of course in almost any society, being generous is not always a charitable practice. The Big-Man hosting the party expects not only to gain status and respect, but also to some day be repaid. After all, it can take years to prepare for just one Moka. Alot of conspiring goes on to choose the right date, if anything goes wrong then they must choose a new one. In the movie after Ongka chooses a date, not only does a Big-Man from an enemy tribe mysteriously die. But also a competing Big-Man starts trouble by saying he was the one that killed the enemy Big-Man with sorcery.
Ongka feels like the most important part of his life is his Moka. He had prepared for it for 5 years. What I noticed to be a very important attribute is his patience. He seemed to be wise enough to just wait, plan, and conspire, even though he just wanted to get it over with. To have that kind of self controls speaks wonders about a person. He was also very thrifty, and knew how to save money. The fact that the community had an income, yet they stayed with their traditions instead of becoming globalized is very suprising to me.
Another important characteristic was how he spoke. He was very influential, stern, and relentless. If he wanted something done he would constantly let that person know that it needed to be done. It was really almost annoying. Which seemed to work on his behalf, because people would do what he wanted just to get him to leave them alone. It wasn't just that he was a nag though. Ongka was so good at speaking and influencing that he stopped mourning warriors from killing someone that they thought killed their Big-Man. To be so influential that you can stop enraged warriors from an enemy band is pretty amazing.
He had many wives to help take care of the many pigs that he accumilated over the years for his Moka. The fact that he could afford 5 wives was an achievement on its own. I think that having a support group is a very helpful benefit to being a Big-Man, even if its not really a characteristic. Through his 5 wives he had many in-laws and extended relatives that no doubt wanted the best for speficially their girl. Whats better for a daughter than to be married to a very important, successful Big-Man? So even if they did not truly like him, they still were biased towards him instead of another Big-Man.
Big-Men have no offical leadership or laws on their side. Its a status that is hard to gain, but easily taken away. Usually an elder man, the Big-Man must constantly compete with other Big-Men for the highest status. Since its just an informal postition, Big-Man must gain respect and influence through example. To just talk and not do would be a disgrace upon his name, so often times you will find Big-Men participating in common chores. He can not command, but instead give advice. Reciprocity and redistribution is manipulated by competing Big-Men to gain status. Hosting a Moka is a very important tradition that gains the Big-Man alot of status. Patience, speech making, hard-working, influential, relentless and generousity are all important attributes you should find in a Big-Man. Ongka had all of these.
This is an essay I wrote on an endangered species for my Human Impact on the Environment class. Its in a wierd style but we were required to write it that way. ENJOY! :)
By Victoria Buttons, 2011-04-30
Saiga Tatarica vs. Homo sapiens
Our victim is the Saiga Antelope. The Saiga Tatarica is the only species in the genus Saiga. That means they are not only killing off a species, but also an entire genus! These calm unique looking antelope are found in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Already this poor species can no longer be found in China, Moldova, Poland, and the Ukraine. They are dead, gone. Tell me my fellow sons of mother earth, how can a species that has been around for 800 MILLION years so suddenly disappear. For a fever. Yes, a simple fever. Our supposedly loving brothers, savagely kill the Saiga Tatarica to cure a fever. Forget using ginger, black elder, and yarrow. The Homo sapiens drug of choice is the crushed horn of the Saiga Antelope. They selectively hunt the males, disrupting the sex ratios, and eventually resulting in reproduction collapses. The Saiga Tatarica is considered critically endangered; their population just in the last 10 years has shown a decline of 80%.
What did this uniquely beautiful species do to deserve such thoughtless cruelty? These antelope are of nomadic orientation. They prefer open dry areas, with low vegetation that make it easy to swiftly run from predators. Yet their habitat is drastically becoming unrecognizable. Roads and rail road tracks are slowly cornering the herds. Droughts and fires kill everything to eat, while what is left is eaten by the prisoner cattle of man. Then there is the weather. I know you have all felt it too, the severe climate changes and extreme temperatures. Mans disregard for everything except himself is rapidly damaging our mother earth. Brother polar bear, you feel it as you try to walk on the once hard ice, now a mess of slush. And sister frogs, you have told us many times of your disappearing families.
In the month of May 2010, half of the Saiga population was found dead in Kazakhstan due to a infectious disease that strikes the lungs and intestines. Now tell me that was natural. Tell me that this sudden disease to the lungs is NOT a disease spread by the treacherous man. They fight each other with diseases, sickness, and radiation. What would stop them from turning on us? Have they not tortured numbers of us with testing? In total the Saiga Tatarica's population is down to 50,000 from 1,250,000 in 1970's.
Todays trial is about murder, its about cruelty, and its about stealing the homes of thousands. Can we really let these murderers off with only a slap on the wrist? I cannot. For thousands of years our mercy has been at the hands of the Homo sapiens, and yet merciful they are not. Our environment has been ravaged, our loved ones have been brutally slaughtered and traded. And yet the culprit constantly walks free. How can we sit here and watch this every day without doing anything? So I ask this court, can you not give us justice? Can you not give justice to every relative of yours killed, to every home you once had destroyed?"
"The Saiga Antelope is a popular victim of hunting, but it is ILLEGAL hunting. How can we blame an entire species for what a few does? Our prosecutor talks of murder and savageness, but tell me my fellow omnivores, do you not kill to eat? How is man any different? Brother Wolf, you and your family constantly use the Saiga Tatarica as a source of food. Should we blame you for the downfall of population? Of course not you say, for it is the circle of life.
The Saiga Tatarica has been legally protected since 1930, man is aware of his misdeeds. A network of researchers and conservationist created the Saiga Conservation Alliance (SCA) in 1990, then in November of 2006 the SCA was granted the status of Candidate Partner by the WCN. Our prosecutor is incorrect, the largest reason for hunting is not the horn, but of food. Poaching is one of the largest threats from man. Knowing this the Department for Environmental Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) began a project to conserve the Saiga Antelope. The Poor rural Homo Sapiens were given dairy cows as a source of food and were taught how to live sustainably. They were also taught why not to tolerate the poaching of Saiga Tatarica, and how to report it authorities. This is only one of many many projects, and laws directed towards recovering the Siaga Tatarica.
Hunting is not the only reasoning for the disrupted sex ratios. If you knew anything about the Tatarica, then you would be aware that they are a polygamous species. During breeding seasons, violent fights often break out between two males to protect their "harems". They tend to eat very little during these times and 90% often die of pure exhaustion. Therefore the male mortality rate is naturally high. Of course it isn't just hunting and reproductive failures that are causing population decreases, droughts and severe winters have made it hard to recover populations numbers.
We cannot blame Homo sapiens for the lung disease that killed the Saiga Tatarica. We have no proof that man has anything to do with it. There are many natural diseases that cause intestinal failure. To prosecute man for individualistic acts, and weather oddities would be absurd. There has been and still is many groups dedicated not only to saving the Saiga Antelope, but also to protecting many of us. Before we make rash decisions we must observe what our Brothers and Sisters Homo Sapiens do. I believe whole-heartedly that they will continue to protect the Saiga Antelope, and just as importantly protect our Mother Earth."
"Due to the evidence and testimony presented, we the Jury find the Defendant guilty of destroying the Saiga Tatarica habitat, and for hunting into near extinction. We, however, find them innocent from the charges for the intestinal and lung disease. The jury requests sentencing of 10 years on parole. If the defendant does not make restitution for his deeds as of 4/21/2021, by continuing to prevent Saiga Tatarica extinction, reducing pollutants and global warming, we request life without parole."