|South Pacific Handbook, 8th edition
by David Stanley
Moon Travel Publications
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.