22 sept. 2011

The Peoples of Vanuatu

John Frum, Vanuatu, ETHNIKKA blog for human culture knowledge
PEOPLES OF THE WORLD 
Name: Vanuatu (New Hebrides
Living Area: Vanuatu Islands (former New Hebrides)
Population: 240.000
Language: Bislama
Comments:   
The Republic of Vanuatu (French: République de Vanuatu, Bislama: Ripablik blong Vanuatu), is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some 1,750 kilometres (1,090 mi) east of northern Australia, 500 kilometres (310 mi) northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.
Vanuatu was first inhabited by Melanesian people. Europeans discovered the islands in 1605 with the arrival of a Spanish expedition led by Fernandes de Queirós in Espiritu Santo. In the 1880s France and the United Kingdom claimed parts of the country, and in 1906 they agreed on a framework for jointly managing the archipelago as the New Hebrides through a British-French Condominium. An independence movement arose in the 1970s, and the Republic of Vanuatu was created in 1980.
The nation's name was derived from the word vanua ("land" or "home"), which occurs in several Austronesian languages, and the word tu ("stand"). Together the two words indicated the independent status of the new nation.

Vanuatu culture retains a strong diversity through local regional variations and through foreign influence. Vanuatu may be divided into three major cultural regions. In the north, wealth is established by how much one can give away. Pigs, particularly those with rounded tusks, are considered a symbol of wealth throughout Vanuatu. In the centre, more traditional Melanesian cultural systems dominate. In the south, a system involving grants of title with associated privileges has developed.
Young men undergo various coming-of-age ceremonies and rituals to initiate them into manhood, usually including circumcision.
Most villages have a nakamal or village clubhouse which serves as a meeting point for men and as a place to drink kava. Villages also have male and female-only sections. These sections are situated all over the villages; in nakamals, special spaces are provided for females when they are in their menstruation period.
The traditional music of Vanuatu is still thriving in the rural areas of Vanuatu. Musical instruments consist mostly of idiophones: drums of various shape and size, slit gongs, as well as rattles, among others. Another musical genre that has become widely popular during the 20th century in all areas of Vanuatu, is known as string band music. It combines guitars, ukulele, and popular songs.
The cuisine of Vanuatu (aelan kakae) incorporates fish, root vegetables such as taro and yams, fruits, and vegetables. Most island families grow food in their gardens, and food shortages are rare. Papayas, pineapples, mangoes, plantains, and sweet potatoes are abundant through much of the year. Coconut milk and cream are used to flavor many dishes. Most food is cooked using hot stones or through boiling and steaming; very little food is fried.

Known for their Cargo Cult:
A cargo cult is a religious practice that has appeared in many traditional pre-industrial tribal societies in the wake of interaction with technologically advanced cultures. The cults focus on obtaining the material wealth (the "cargo") of the advanced culture through magic and religious rituals and practices. Cult members believe that the wealth was intended for them by their deities and ancestors. Cargo cults developed primarily in remote parts of New Guinea and other Melanesian and Micronesian societies in the southwest Pacific Ocean, beginning with the first significant arrivals of Westerners in the 19th century.
Cargo cult activity in the Pacific region increased significantly during and immediately after World War II, when the residents of these regions observed the Japanese and American combatants bringing in large amounts of material. When the war ended, the military bases closed and the flow of goods and materials ceased. In an attempt to attract further deliveries of goods, followers of the cults engaged in ritualistic practices such as building crude imitation landing strips, aircraft and radio equipment, and mimicking the behaviour that they had observed of the military personnel operating them.
Over the last sixty-five years, most cargo cults have disappeared. However, some cargo cults are still active including:
The John Frum cult on Tanna island (Vanuatu)
The Tom Navy cult on Tanna island (Vanuatu)
The Prince Philip Movement on Tanna island (Vanuatu)
Yali's cargo cult on Papua New Guinea (Madang-region)
The Paliau movement on Papua New Guinea (Manus island)
The Peli association on Papua New Guinea
The Pomio Kivung on Papua New Guinea

An example of a Cargo Cult is the John Frum Cult:
The religion centering around John Frum arose in the late 1930s, when Vanuatu was known as the New Hebrides. The movement was heavily influenced by existing religious practice in the Sulphur Bay area of Tanna, particularly the worship of Keraperamun, a god associated with Mount Tukosmera, Tanna's highest mountain. In some versions of the story, a native named Manehivi, under the alias "John Frum", began appearing among the native people of Tanna while dressed in a Western coat, making promises of houses, clothes, food, and transport. Others contend that John Frum was a kava-induced spirit vision. Said to be a manifestation of Keraperamun, John Frum promised the dawn of a new age, in which all white people, including missionaries, would leave the New Hebrides, and that the native Melanesians would gain access to the material wealth that white people enjoyed. For this to happen, however, the people of Tanna had to reject all aspects of European society (money, Western education, Christianity, work on copra plantations) and return to traditional kastom (a word for native Tannese customs).
In 1941, followers of John Frum rid themselves of their money in a frenzy of spending, left the missionary churches, schools, villages and plantations, and moved further inland to participate in traditional feasts, dances and rituals. European colonial authorities sought to suppress the movement, arresting Frum, humiliating him publicly, imprisoning him, and ultimately exiling him, along with other leaders of the cult, to another island in the archipelago.
Despite this, the movement gained popularity in the early 1940s, when some 300,000 American troops were stationed in the New Hebrides during the Second World War, bringing with them large amounts of supplies, or "cargo". After the war, and the departure of the Americans, followers of John Frum built symbolic landing strips to encourage American aeroplanes to once again land and bring them "cargo". Versions of the cult that emphasize the American influence interpret "John Frum" as a corruption of "John from (America)" (although it could be John from anywhere), and credit the presence of black Americans as influencing the idea that John Frum could be black.
In 1957, a leader of the John Frum movement, Nakomaha, created the "Tanna Army", a non-violent, ritualistic organisation which organised military-style parades, their faces painted in ritual colours, and wearing white t-shirts with the letters "T-A USA" (Tanna Army USA). This parade still takes place every year on February 15.
The cult is still active today. The followers believe that John Frum will come back on a February 15 (the year of his return is not known), a date which is observed as "John Frum Day" in Vanuatu.
In the late 1970s, John Frum followers opposed the imminent creation of an independent, united nation of Vanuatu. They objected to a centralised government which they feared would favour Western modernity and Christianity, felt to be detrimental to local customs. The John Frum movement has its own political party, led by Song Keaspai. On John Frum Day in February 2007, the John Frum Movement celebrated its 50th anniversary. Chief Isaak Wan Nikiau, its leader, was quoted by the BBC from years past as saying that John Frum was "our God, our Jesus," and would eventually return.

© Photo and Text: Wikipedia

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