Monday, June 06, 2005

Vanuatu cannibalism

I found Aren's article on cannibalism particularly disconcerting because for a long time I have been addicted to travel television and I remember watching many programs in which cannibalism was alleged by the natives themselves. On an old tape I found an interview between travel guide Ian Wright and a native of Vanuatu about cannibalism. While again it is not a first-hand account (although I could swear on "Exotic Islands" hosted by Hunter Reno she talked to someone who had eaten human flesh) this is not a case of white westerners making the islanders the Other. The islanders themselves avowed that they did. I surfed the web a little bit to see if I could find any information, but I couldn't easily find any authoritative sources. Interestingly, however, many tourism related sites mention cannibalism, while the official site of the government of Vanuatu does not. Also, in the interview the native of Vanuatu says cannibalism last took place around 1939, while I saw different dates, such as the 1960s and 1987. Here is the dialogue from the show, I also have a copy of the show on video tape if anyone wants to see the interview for themselves;

Traveler: Missionaries arrived here in 1839 and the first two immediately got eaten. They still don't like strangers wandering around on their own, so it seemed wise to take a tour with one of the island's chiefs, Chief Enos.
Traveler: "So, what's all this talk about um cannibalism on the island then? Why do you eat people?"
Chief Enos: "If you are a champion..."
"A a strong man then we want to eat you because we will be strong...
"like you."
"Yeah. And will use use all your bones to make arrows to kill other people."
"But if you eat me you might end up stupid like me"
"It might work the other way won't it.?
"Yes, that's true."
"What does it taste like"
"Oh very sweet, better than uh all other meat."
"Have you have you tasted some?"
"No, no that's what they say."
"Ah I think you have haven't you?"
"No no."
"You mean not at all? No? When did cannibalism die out? When did it finish?"
"Cannibalism finish, Cannibalism is finished about 1939."

This is from Globe Trekker's "Fiji, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands" episode hosted by Ian Wright.


Blogger Brandon said...

Almost makes you wonder if they say that stuff to gain further publicity. In other words, maybe being cannibals will make the explorers come around more often, thereby making their supplies more avaliable.

11:11 PM  

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