As we prepared to leave Malekula, a replacement Regional Development Planner had not been chosen, although it seemed likely he or she would be another CUSO cooperant. In order to familiarize him with Malekula, I wrote up a description of the island and what I had learned about Vanuatu. This page links to extracts from these notes.
Please keep in mind that these notes describe the situation as of early 1989. There has been a complete reorganization of Vanuatu's local governments since and many other things have changed over time.
- Stan Combs, Malekula Regional Development Planner, January, 1989
The purpose of these notes is to transmit some of the basic information I have gained during my two years as the Malekula LGC Regional Development Planner to an expatriate who fills this position after I leave. They are incomplete and parts will be inaccurate. I have often found it difficult get information in a form that I can properly understand. This is because of several things: First, language problems in that Bislama, which has been my working language here, is an imprecise language and in any case, my Bislama is not perfectly fluent. Second, ni-Vanuatu are not always disposed to impart their full knowledge, especially to a white stranger.
Traditionally, ni-Vanuatu have only communicated knowledge to one another after the payment of some consideration. As far as imparting knowledge to whitemen goes, starting with the missionaries, they have disapproved of and ridiculed ni-Vanuatu beliefs and practices. Whitemen are always telling ni-Vanuatu to change their ways. Therefore, ni-Vanuatu have a well-developed defensive mechanism of only letting whitemen know what ni-Vanuatu want them to know or think they want to believe. Third, the extreme differences between Canadian and ni-Vanuatu cultures get in the way and filter all communication between us. In addition, it doesn't always pay to put all one knows on paper. (Perhaps some of the local culture has rubbed off on me.) Nevertheless, I will do my best to impart what knowledge I have about Malekula.
Government On and Affecting Malekula
©Stan Combs, 1995.