Warriors, Missionaries and Reconciliation - perfect timing to be in Anelghowhat
1827 - 1846, some 170 years ago, missionaries arrived in several attempts to
bring Christianity to the people of Vanuatu....but these "yellow people"
from Samoa were killed and some eaten by the locals who feared these
strangers. Now, in present time, the Samoans and the Vanuatians are
formalizing forgiveness for the atrocities through a multi-day
Yesterday, the Samoan ministerial delegation flew in to the air stip on the
little island beside us and we were on the main beach of Anelghowhat to
witness a spectacular reenactment of the original arrival of the
missionaries. The most terrifying race down the beach from both directions
and surrounding of the missionaries vessel by war painted and custom clad (a
bit of grass or leaves hanging from the front of their straw belts)
warriors...then the march/dance from the landing up the short distance to a
clearing where a more hospitable welcoming ceremony took on the magical
colors, traditional costumes and dance performed by villagers of all
ages.....wait for the photos!
The villagers invited us sailors in to the straw hut that had been set up
for lunch to join/mix with the Samoan delegation; very interesting
conversations to hear of the projects (such as setting up bio gas fuel
installations for household cooking) that these Christian ministers were
working on in the Pacific islands and in Asia. These were Presbyterian
pastors and missionaries....as were those who were killed so many years ago.
The island today is very much Christian based with 3 main religions:
Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventists and Roman Catholic churches/followers.
The reconciliation activities will carry on today and tomorrow in the
village and then, on Friday, there will be departure ceremonies before the
Samoan missionaries fly away.
There are 7 sail boats here in the anchorage; 4 of the boats (8 of us) were
there yesterday as we had been told of the scheduled arrival of the Samoans
and the beginning of this reconciliation activities....we could not have
imagined it would turn out to be such a special activity for us to have the
opportunity to see. Unfortunate that the other boats missed it; one boat S/V
Indimium (Tony..a single hander..whom we know quite well) just arrived from
Fiji during the timing of the ceremonies; it appeared that the others either
forgot about it or were not expecting something interesting enough to go to
shore....a real miss on their parts.....at least from our perspective.
Another day has begun...time for breakfast.
Cheers to all, the Seamisters/John and Cheryl