Vanuatu must preserve its custom and culture

Vanuatu’s Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs says it is the country’s custom and culture that freed Vanuatu from the colonial powers of Britain and France.

Malvatumauri President, Chief Willie Gray Plasua, said this while opening the cultural show which was part of the 40 years of Independence Anniversary celebrations happening in Port Vila in the lead up to Independence Day on Thursday, 30 July.

Chief Plasua says the custom of the country has been around for a longtime before Vanuatu’s Independence and up until today. He believes culture and custom will continue there were placed on the islands of Vanuatu by God so the people would take good care them.

He says, “This year we celebrate 40 years of Vanuatu as a nation but we have to continue to hold on to our custom and culture.”

“Our forefathers and our fathers realised that if we continued to stay under the two past colonial powers, we would lose our customary properties, especially our customary land,” Chief Plasua said.

Acting Director for the Vanuatu Cultural Centre in Port Vila, Evelyn Bulegy, says there were around 170 participants who are taking part in the cultural show this week at the Saralana Park in Port Vila.

She says the cultural groups were invited from all over Vanuatu, from Motalava island in Torba Province, Santo island in Sanma Province, Ambae and Pentecost islands in Penama, Ambrym and Malekula islands in Malampa Province, Emae and Efate islands in Shefa Province and Futuna and Tanna islands in Tafea Province in Vanuatu’s south.

Ms Bulegy says many cultural groups were invited to participate in the show because this is a big year for Vanuatu as it celebrates its 40 years of Independence Anniversary, a lifetime event.

The cultural groups’ participation in the cultural show was supported by the Government through the National Independence Committee.

Ms Bulegy is inviting all residents of Port Vila and Efate to get down to Saralana Park to watch the cultural performances that are free for everyone, families, students and young people.

Ms Bulegy stressed the importance for young people to learn their traditions, customs and culture.

She says nowadays many young people learn and know more about technology than they do bout their custom and culture. Many don’t know how to weave local mats, baskets and how to prepare local food, she said.

Ms Bulegy says this is the time that they could come, sit down, talk to and learn from the elders who have come over from all the islands to share their traditional knowledge with them.

She says the cultural show includes custom dances, the preparation of local dishes and a weaving exhibition.

Kalsal John, a member of the Nerenigman Custom Dance from Motalava Island, says it is important for young people who are living in town to learn and understand their custom and culture because it will benefit them while growing up.

Nerenigman magic dance. Photo: Groovy Banana.

He says it is important for young people to return to their home islands especially those from Banks who have no jobs in town at this time, to go back to their own villages and learn their custom songs, traditional dress and more.

Mr John says their group will this week perform three custom dances, the Magic Dance, the Head Dress Dance, the Snake Dance and the Loros Dance.

He says there are 15 members in the Motalava Island group, one of them is a woman who is showcasing the preparation of their Torba Province foods, one of which is a biscuit made from local Torba breadfruit.

Mr John says the Motalava Island group is excited to be part of the many activities in Port Vila leading up to 30 July.

The Cultural Show which kicked off on Monday, will end on Wednesday.

There are other activities happening around Port Vila and around Vanuatu in the lead up to Thursday 30 July when Vanuatu turns 40.

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