Sanguma Nescafé: David Fopp

It was the mid-70s and a conference was being held in a village on the shores of Hansa Bay. The topic was how to encourage villagers to take a more active role in the life of their village school. There were 20 of us plus two Australian cinematographers who were recording the event. We were billeted with the villagers.

In the evenings we sat about discussing a wide range of topics, as the fire-flies flittered about. One evening one of the cinematographers asked: “If you had enough fireflies, would it be possible to read with their light?” No-one had any idea.

About a kilometre further around the Bay was another village, with a well-worn path connecting the two. Either side of the path was cleared, with coconut trees growing. About 40-50 m to one side was the seashore, and about the same distance on the other side was stubby re-growth.

One evening as we sat talking three teenage girls raced in, screaming in terror. They had been returning from the neighbouring village when a spirit floated out of the scrub, about a metre above the ground. It approached them. They fled.

About five minutes later the two cinematographers walked in accompanied by three 10-12 year old boys. One of the boys was carrying on his head a large Nescafé bottle—which contained ten fireflies, all sparkling!

Note: They did not emit enough light to enable reading.


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