Thursday, September 15, 2016

Footnote

I came back from Vanuatu yesterday with a piece of coral in my foot, and went straight from the airport to an A and E department, where a very kind nurse went to work on me with cream and tweezers.

Foot problems aside, I had a wonderful time in the world's most linguistically diverse nation. On the last day of my stay on the island of Efate, when the foot was just beginning to twitch, I had the privilege of meeting Ralph Regenvanu, the painter, anthropologist, leader of the Land and Justice Party, and minister for Land and Energy. I talked with Regenvanu about my research into the blackbirding of ni-Vanuatu to New Zealand in the nineteenth century, and about the necessity of defending and improving the Recognised Seasonal Employment scheme that is bringing Pacific Islanders to New Zealand and Australia to pick fruit and harvest vegetables.

I asked Regenvanu about where he sits on the political spectrum, and whether wikipedia's categorisation of the Land and Justice Party as 'traditionalist' and 'conservative' is justified. He smiled and said he'd been described as a 'neo-Marxist', too, and then explained that he felt an affinity to the Australasian Green parties, and was a good friend of one of the New Zealand Greens' most left-wing MPs, Catherine Delahunty. Regenvanu explains his political programme at length in this very good interview with the anthropologist Heidy Geismar.

Here's a clip of Regenvanu campaigning in Vanuatu's recent elections using the poetic pidgin called Bislama.

[Posted by Scott Hamilton]

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