Chronicle of a voyage around the world

Vanuatu, the lucky discovery...Part wo

Published on 21 march 2017 at 0h00

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We were very keen to see in the flesh a very spectacular, ancestral custom: the N’gol Land Diving. New Zealander Alan John Hackett didn’t quite invent bungee jumping in 1987. He simply adapted and modernized something that he had seen in Vanuatu, not far from his home island, and in particular on Pentecost Island

 

A few things which I learnt about the old custom of N’gol Land Diving… 

N’gol Land Diving is undoubtedly the most spectacular of the indigenous rituals on Vanuatu. This initiation rite may have been practiced on other islands of the former New Hebrides, but for the last few decades it has only really survived in the south of Pentecost Island. And more precisely, in three villages on the island’s south west coast, two of which are Anglophone and one Francophone. N’gol Land Diving is linked to the custom of the yam harvest. The yam is the islands’ most precious crop, and its fibers are used to make the rope. The diving happens for only two months a year, from mid-April until mid-June. It usually takes place just after the first yams have been harvested, we were informed, when we stopped over at Lamap (Port Sandwich) on the island of Malekula. The French-speaking village which might interest us was called St Joseph, and was situated in one of the most southerly bays on Pentecost’s west coast. We were there at the right time, and the crew of Jangada decided to find where the village was and to head there. We left Port Sandwich bay, and headed by the north ...

This article appeared in issue 153. To read the article in full, buy this issue individually

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