book review

South Pacific Handbook, 8th edition
by David Stanley
Moon Travel Publications
ISBN 1566914116

As a guidebook of the islands of the South Pacific,this is a wholly valuable travel resource. A huge task in volume, the book is easily referenced and entertainingly detailed. Full of facts and information it is a perfect guide to the traveller, armchair and active alike. A passage from the chapter on Tanna describes some of the aspects of Jon Frum.

A further note to the arrests mentioned. At the time most of these books were written, Cargo Cult practices in Vanuatu were considered illegal. Today's view has changed with the help of tourist revenue and it's interest in Jon Frum. Tourism Vanuatu now touts Cargo Cults as one of their many cultural attractions.

pg. 784 [7th ed.]
The Jon Frum Cargo Cult
The Tannese were declared converted to Presbyterianism in the early years of this century, yet just prior to WWII a movement to reestablish traditional values emerged in southen Tanna when a spirit began appearing at Green Point around sunset In 1942 1,000 men from Tanna were recruited by the Americans to work at military bases on Enfate and the sight of huge quantities of war materiel and black soldiers gave this movement a new meaning.

A sort of cultural hero emerged who would come from across the sea bringing wealth in abundence, Jon "from" America. As the symbol of their newfound religion the Tannese took the red cross seen on wartime ambulances on Enfate, and today the villages north of Yasur Volcano and elsewhere are dotted with litte red crosses nearby surrounded by picket fences, bearing witness to this extraordinary chain of events.

The priests and prophets of these cargo cuts are called "messengers," and they foretell the return ofthe ships laden with cargo for Man Tanna, escorted by Jon Frum, the reincarnation of an ancient deity. Towers with tin cans strung from wires, imitating radio stations, were erected so Jon Frum could speak to his people. The movement declares that money must be thrown away, pigs killed, gardens left uncared for, since all material wealth will be provided in the end by Jon Frum.

It's felt that missionaries and government administrators have interfered with this Second Coming; thus the movement sometimes manifests itself in noncooperation with them. The British authorities arrested cult leaders and jailed them in Port Vila, but new devotees sprang up to talk their places. There's also a Prince Phillp cult on Tanna dating back to the prince's visit to what was then New Hebrides in 1974. Followers believe the prince originally came from Tanna in another form and will eventually return to rule over them.

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