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Custom Ceremony Honours Melanesian Unity at 7th Arts Festival

A custom ceremony was held at the Saralana compound yesterday by the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs and the chiefs from each island, expressing gratitude to the Melanesian countries for their presence at the 7th Melanesian Arts Festival in Vanuatu. The ceremony served as a welcoming gesture and appreciation for the efforts made by each Pacific country to attend the festival.

Chief Willy Grey Plasua, President of the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs, expressed his happiness in hosting the 7th Melanesian Arts Festival in Port Vila, despite the significant challenges faced throughout the year. “We are happy to join together in this Arts Festival, we are one, even though we are divided by land but we are one ‘solwora’ (ocean) because our customs are unique, they are our lives,” he said.

A representative from the Port Vila Council of Chiefs explained the significance of the ceremony, saying that it symbolises the tradition of high chiefs exchanging gifts when they visit a new place to meet another high chief.

The adoption of brothers and sisters from each Melanesian country by the provinces of Vanuatu was highlighted. For instance, TORBA Province has adopted Papua New Guinea, PENAMA Province has adopted Solomon Islands, MALAMPA Province has adopted the Republic of Fiji, SHEFA Province has adopted West Papua, SANMA Province has adopted the Torres Strait, and TAFEA Province has maintained its adoption and brotherhood with the Kanaks of New Caledonia.

During the ceremony, chiefs representing each province invited the chiefs and leaders from the brother countries to come forward and receive gifts as a part of the welcome, signifying the provinces’ commitment to looking after their people within Vanuatu.

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