Malekula to Host 4th National Arts Festival

The Vanuatu Daily Post recently reported that Chairman of the National Arts Festival, Chief Owen Rion Lapuenmal of Litzlitz Village, has called on the people of Malekula, Vanuatu, to wake up to the reality that they are going to host the National Arts Festival for a week in August.

The Festival will be hosted at Wilkin’s Stadium at Lakatoro.

Looking ahead the Chairman urges the young people of Malekula to capitalize on the event to learn their customs again which have stopped being used after the chiefs that practiced them died.

Chief Papuenmal reminds the people of Malekula that throughout the centuries, Malekula has always been the highly cultural back bone of the islands and it is important that the generation of today uphold the image.

“We the people of Malekula are pleased with the theme to preserve and promote our customs to live again, I wish to invite the people of Malekula to attend the event with their families to help their children to learn the tamtam beats, sing the songs and dance the dances”, he says.

“And to all tour operation companies, my message to the tourists who want to visit Vanuatu to attend the Festival, that they are ‘most welcome’!”

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Where is Malekula, Vanuatu? Map from ethnobiomed.biomedcentral.com

Daily Post writer, Terence Malapa, wrote that preparations for the 4th National Arts Festival (NAF) are progressing well. The NAF is a celebration of Vanuatu’s unique and diverse cultural heritage. It has been held three times since its initiation in 1979 when the first festival was held in Port Vila.

So far, it has been hosted in Santo in 1991 and in Port Vila again in 2009 when chiefs of Malekula took the ‘stick faea’ to host the 4th Arts Festival. Preliminary talks commenced in 2018, when the Director of the VanuatuCultural Centre (VCC), Richard Shing visited Malekula on Malampa Day and informed them of the plan to have the festival in 2019.

A recent visit to Malekula on the 18th of March 2019 by VCC Director Richard Shing, members of the NAF Steering committee, the assistant events coordinator and some members of the sub committees advanced the preparations. They met with the Malampa Provincial Government and the Malmetenvanu Council of Chiefs, and established counterpart committees who would work with those in Port Vila to help with the Festival logistics. The meeting with the Malmetenvanu Council of Chiefs was purposely to seek their blessing and support for the national festival.

Vanuatu is considered one of the most diverse cultural nations in the world with more than 130 languages but with a population that is lower than 300,000.

The festival looks at trying to promote this cultural diversity by bringing different cultures from across Vanuatu to participate for one week, sharing traditional knowledge and skills and highlighting different aspects of culture including weaving, custom dances, ceremonies, traditional food preparation/preservation/production, oral traditions and so forth to encourage the transfer of this knowledge to the younger generation in order to preserve the rich cultural heritage that Vanuatu has.

“The 4th National Arts Festival is an event where cultural institutions and relevant stakeholders combine efforts to promote Vanuatu’s rich and diverse cultural heritage,” Director Shing said.

“It is an event where traditional cultural practitioners throughout Vanuatu can showcase important traditional knowledge that have sustained and maintained livelihood for many millennia, and in line with the theme of “Holem Taet, Praktisim mo Promotem Kastom Save”.

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