Monday, February 15, 2010

Jon Frum Day, Tanna Island, Vanuatu

Jon Frum, a cargo cult, is a syncretic sect centred on Sulphur Bay on Tanna Island, Vanuatu, and found in some neighbouring islands. A white American named Jon, or John, Frum is also the name of the messenger of this movement; who on his return, will provide the Frum faithful with promised goods, or cargo.

An estimated 90 per cent of the population of Vanuatu is affiliated with a Christian denomination, the largest being Presbyterian, followed by Roman Catholic and Anglican. Jon Frum forms a small minority.

Some Frum members say that Jon Frum is a benevolent deity who lives in the crater of Tanna's highest mountain, Yasur, with his several thousand strong army, or else he is the 'king of America'. Jon Frum members believe that when Frum does return as promised, the mountains will crumble, filling the rivers, the land will become very fertile and prosperity will arrive in the villages. Frum himself will bring money so that the people can buy the goods of the white people, and he will provide schools for all.

Perhaps influenced by drinks of kava, a mildly narcotic drink popular in the western Pacific and northern Australia, visions and prophecies of Frum (by 'messengers' as the movement calls its priests and prophets) have directed the cult's world view. Some say it began as early as the 1930s, probably when a man of that name actually travelled or lived among the villagers ...

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