by Jessica Miller
May 15, 2008
Written by Dean our communications officer (from Aotearoa/ New Zealand) on board the Esperanza.
When I was in the Solomon Islands an old man came up to me with a bag made out of an old yellow sack strapped around his neck. "I have a carving, very cheap for you," he said.
“Here we go…” I thought, "How am I gonna get rid of this guy?" I told him I had no money on me but I’d be around in the afternoon. I don’t know why I said that because I’d already bought Honiara out of carvings.
Anyway, he turned up later and pulled a stone carving out of the sack. It was a figure of a man’s body with a frigate bird’s head, holding a spear in one hand and a fish in the other. It was Kezoko, god of the sea and fishing from his tribal area.
The old man’s name was Sali and he emphasised it was a very special price and that it took him 6 weeks to make. I thought, “What the hell… but I don’t know how I’ll get that one home. It’s the heaviest one yet.”
And as soon as I accepted he was hugely relieved and grabbed my hands with both of his and started crying. “Thank you so much for saving our tunas. I am worried for our children and the next childrens. I want them to have tunas too,” he said looking deep into my eyes.
I realised he wanted to give me his carving for free but he was too poor and couldn’t. We held hands and looked into each others’ eyes for ages. It was a really emotional moment, his carving meant so much more and would be one of the treasures of my life.
I’m told that when Kezoko takes aim with his spear he always hits his target.
After days of not finding any fishing boats, I put Kezoko up on the bridge. The next day we found a huge mothership accepting catches from other boats, a fish aggregation device and two pirate fishing vessels. The following day we came across a fleet of Taiwanese longliners. I’m thinking that maybe Kezoko would like a few days holiday in the wardrobe because we all need some sleep.
Image: © Greenpeace/ Lisa Vickers