Stephen Bassett
Sun 19 Aug 2012 07:42
Vanuatu is fascinating. It had a joint administration between the French and the British from 1906 until 1980 when they achieved independence. They have a cannibalistic history. In fact the last act of cannibalism was recorded in 1969!! And now even although there are still high numbers of children who do not go to school, they are proud and will not let themselves be pushed around by larger, more powerful countries.
Taxation is low and if your family cannot pay the education fees, then you do not attend school. But if you do then part of the curriculum is to return to your roots and learn about living off the land and from the sea. The students learn how to build houses from natural resources, catch fish, use coconuts and understand natural medicines. And many other things that would be lost if not encouraged.
Stephen is standing beside a drum. These drums are mainly ceremonial now but were used to communicate between tribes. On some islands in the group there is still no electricity so I imagine that the drums are still relied on.
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Having had a joint administration for most of the 20th century, many services in Port Vila were duplicated. There were two hospitals – one French and one British. And two prisons, and two of everything. They have streamlined things now. The sign is in three languages – English, French and Pidgin or Bislama. See next post for some interesting examples.
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And the Banyan tree rules here too – providing a shelter for some families in Port Vila. Basically the banyan takes over a host tree and takes over its life by sending out sucker roots and smothering the host. As it grows, it spreads outwards and there is space in the middle of the tree which this family have made use of.
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