chapter  1
38 Pages

Birds and Banyans: Kastom and Colonialism in South Pentecost

TJL hese are the words of Bumangari Kaon, an influential leader of the kastom villages of south east Pentecost in the early seventies. We might wonder how such strident confidence in the persistence of kastom was possible in the face of the colonial experience. How was it that Europeans were portrayed not in the image of the ravaging blackbirders but themselves as birds, roving and slight, compared to the rooted towering strength of the banyan of kastomt Why are the colonial forces diminished to the status of fitful, migratory creatures? And why in the face of manifest transformation, is kastom portrayed as primordial and eternal — ‘here from the start’?