Kelo – a cultural practice to settle feud and make peace in Choiseul

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A Kaqe was constructed during the Choiseul Province Second Appointed Day
at Ogho village, Choiseul Province on 24th February 2017

A traditional ceremony still practised today in Choiseul (Lauru) Province called ‘kelo’ is to bring peace, unity and strengthen relationships.

During the head hunting era before Solomon Islands was colonised by Europeans, Kelo was the last event that bought about peace in Lauru and the significance of this ceremony has been upheld and passed down over the years.

The Kelo ceremony can happen when a feud has to be settled to restore peace between rival tribes and groups. It can also be performed during event such as laying of tombstone for a dead relative.

It is mainly to strengthen relationships.

The recent one I witnessed was at Ogho village during the Choiseul Province’s Second Appointed Day on 24th February 2017.

Women dancers on the giving party (Givers of the Kaqe) ready to welcome the Party to receive the gifts
Warriors guarding the Kaqe on the background to receive the incoming party

By the end of the kelo ceremony a harmonious atmosphere and absence of tension would bring happiness between the warring parties and that’s when a huge platform of food is built called kaqe.

When and if the kaqe is erected then that is supposed to be the end of the enmity.

When fighting happened, pig is put on top of the Kaqe which is a sign that the hostility is over and there is peace.

Kaqe is built by selected few who have acquired the skills from their forefathers and over the years have passed on the knowledge to this generation.

It is prohibited for people to stay underneath the kaqe during the kelo ceremony as doing so would result in fatality such as getting sick and eventually die. The kaqe is a sacred symbol of peace that must be respected according to Lauru peoples’ custom.

The guilty or the losing party in a conflict would be the ones who would organise the kelo ceremony and this cultural tradition is still respected and practised around the island of Lauru today.

Left to Right: Hon. David Tome Minister of Provincial Government and Choiseul Province Premier Hon. Jackson Kiloe after the Premier chop down the Kaqe before they receive the gifts on behalf of the Government of Solomon Islands
Left to Right: Chief Gideon Panisaga of Bangara village, Chief Francis Kavakesa of Voruvoru village with white shell on forehead and two other warriors getting ready to escort party to receive gift from the Kaqe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

— By Basilio Solevudu

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