Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Tomorrow is John Frum Day -- Got Cargo?


There is a Cargo Cult alive and well in the South Pacific island of Vanuatu. Many villagers believe that a mythical American, named John Frum, will return to their island and bring lots of stuff. February 15 is their holiest day -- John Frum Day.

An excellent piece in the Smithsonian Magazine gives you a fuller picture of both the Vanuatu holiday and the idea of Cargo Cults. There is real charm to the piece, as well as deeper meaning concerning the meeting of cultures. The natives in the South Pacific live very simple lives, dirt poor and isolated. When US troops came through during WWII, the natives couldn't believe all the stuff that came too, in fact they believe it was conjured up by magic.

From the article:
Men and boys clad in stringy bark skirts stride onto the dancing ground clutching replicas of chain saws carved from joungle boughs. As they thump their feet in time to their own singing, they slash at the air with the make-believe chain saws. "We've come from America to cut down all the trees," they sing, "so we can build factories."
Read the whole thing, it's food for thought.

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