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BRIEF BACKGROUND

 Vanuatu has over 130 languages in a population of about 270,000 people. Languages roughly demarcates cultural groups, thus Vanuatu is considered as one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world.

The first National Arts Festival was held in Port Vila in 1979, the second held on Santo in 1991 and the third was held in Port Vila in 2009 and were all deemed great successes. The main purposes of these National Arts Festivals are to celebrate, demonstrate and promote Vanuatu’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and to ensure that cultural practices and activities, traditional knowledge and expressions of culture are continually retained. During the last NAF in 2009, the ‘stik faea’ was presented to the Malakula Fieldworkers to host the next NAF and the Malakula Fieldworkers are prepared to host the 4th National Arts Festival.

In this age, there is growing awareness of the importance of traditional knowledge in the mitigation of risk, before, during and after natural disasters, and it is proven knowledge that our traditional knowledge, inherited from our ancestors over thousands of years of living of the land, possesses certain sustainability traits that are still assisting most Ni-Vanuatu. By continually celebrating our cultural heritage through events such as the National Arts Festivals, we are reemphasizing the importance of our custom, cultural and traditions, and ensuring that the generations to come acknowledge and continue to uphold important aspects of our cultural heritage. 

Draft plans are for there to be 100 participants from each province (600 in all) who will be showcasing custom dances, custom ceremonies, traditional carvings, traditional tools, traditional skills, oral traditions and various demonstrations of traditional knowledge. 

  

 

                                                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maewo Siloa Slow Food Festival

 

The torch or Stik Faea which was lit during the Tupunis Festival on Tanna was passed on to Penama, specifically the island of Pentecost. However, due to some disgruntlement and indecisions on where to host the event on that island, the chiefs of Maewo and their people have come forward and requested to host the event instead.It was eventually agreed for the stik faea to be handed over to Maemo chiefs, who are in charge of hosting the event at Gamble School.

The Siloa Slow Food Festival on Maewo Island is scheduled from the 21 to 24 July 2019. A tentative program is attached for your information. The SSFM (Vanuatu) is kindly seeking the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity to fund and stage this event as it (SSFM (Vanuatu)) helps fulfill MALFFB’s program objectives to the people of Vanautu. A detail of costs of the event is included herein. 

 

 

Introduction 

The Siloa Slow Food Movement (Vanuatu) is a branch of the Terra Madre.

Terra Madre is a network of food communities. The Terra Madre network was launched by the Slow Food grass roots organization, and the intent is to provide small-scale farmers, breeders, fishers and food artisans whose approach to food production protects the environment and communities. The English translation of the term Terra Madre, in reverse, where Madre implies Mother and Terra meaning Earth; the Mother Earth.

The Siloa Slow Food Movement (Vanuatu), SSFM (Vanuatu), was formed in 2009. It stands on the same principles of Terra Madre, and, especially for Vanuatu and our region, it includes political sovereignty over our lands, forests, seas, minerals and foods. Food sovereignty reigns supreme in the Vanuatu way of life as it defines our cultures, our traditions and our identity with Mother Earth or Mama Graon. It is evident in the larger Melanesian diaspora that our ‘brothers and sisters’ in neighboring countries and territories share the same values to us, but many are also deprived of their connection to the land and their traditional foods because of ‘land grabbing’ by colonizers and foreigners, large scale mining, civil unrest and political alienation. It is for these reasons that SSFM (Vanuatu) organized a week-long Melanesian Indigenous Land Defense Alliance (MILDA) forum on Lelepa Island in March 2014. The Lelepa MILDA recognized that Melanesia was losing its connection with Mama Graon  and its foods and it reaffirmed, through a declaration, to work together to advocate for a return to the traditional ways of food production, processing, preparation and consumption. Similarly, the Tupunis Food Festival was organized in August 2016 at Lenakel on Tanna Island to celebrate our foods, culture and our bond with Mama Graon.

      

As the term implies, the SSFM (Vanuatu) is an advocate for traditional methods of food production – to follow the lunar calendar to prepare a garden, grow crops and allow them to mature naturally, to harvest and to prepare the food the traditional way.

The fundamental objectives of the movement in our part of the world include; allowing the land to heal (replenish) the natural way, respecting the traditions and taboos surrounding crop production, protecting the environment, and enjoying our foods the traditional way which, advertently contributes to fighting non-communicable disease (NCD). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  MUSEUM TALK

 

 Anne Sibilsky – Leipzig Research Center for Early Child Development, Germany

 Social Learning and Cultural Diversity in Vanuatu

 Tuesday, September 11, 5.30pm 

 

Anne Sibilsky – Leipzig Research Center for Early Child Development, Germany

Vanuatu has an extraordinarily rich cultural diversity, which is embodied by its Kastom and taken care of by its population. We are interested in how the way people learn from others may have a crucial influence on the maintenance of similarities within cultural groups and differences between cultural groups. Psychologists tend to think about this question by studying the social transmission of information using experiments. 

Because children are the members of society who have been least exposed to external influences and who are the crucial persons to carry culture to the next generation, my PhD is focussing on how children learn socially. In various playful studies with Ni-Vanuatu children we are investigating what psychologists call "learning biases" to help understand patterns of cultural diversity. 

In the talk, I will give an overview of our project in which we a) collected data on social learning in 5 primary schools on Efate and b) conducted ethnographic interviews with parents to deepen our understanding of village characteristics. 

 

Anne Sibilsky studied psychology in Germany and is working on her PhD at the Leipzig Research Center for Early Child Development, Germany. As part of the Max-Planck project “Vanuatu Languages and Lifeways”, she has been working since 2016 at several places on Efate, namely Epau, Taloa (Nguna), Mele, Natapao (Lelepa), Eratap, Freswota (Port Vila) and Tassiriki (Moso).