National Geographic : 1972 Jan
"Not me!" ... "Yes, you!" Accused and accuser confront each other during a Small Namba trial in the village of Yabgatass. Face and body daubed with mourning ash, the father (right) of a dead girl points at an old man (left) who, he claims, threw "poisoned" leaves that struck his daughter in the chest and caused her death. The accused, Bialo, already had the reputation of being a sorcerer. He had spent two years in jail at Lamap, after being convicted by a jury of village elders of "poisoning" several Nambas in similar fashion. Guilty or not guilty? A jury of elders awaits the recommendation of Ilabnambinpin (left, above), here discussing the case with the father. More than 80 Small Nambas-most of them convinced of Bialo's guilt listened as the father and Bialo testified. The chief sat smoking, deep in thought. Then he rose and ques tioned each man privately. The ver dict: Guilty. Bialo was fined one tusker pig and Australian currency worth $10, about what the father might have received as the bride price for his daughter. Penniless, Bialo borrowed the money from the author, and handed it to the father, together with coconut fronds-a tribal I.O.U. for the pig. Sensing ill will, Ilabnambinpin had the two men shake hands. And then Bialo vanished into the forest.