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Ifira to Host MACFEST Custom Ceremony Tomorrow

New Caledonia participants being welcomed at Lycee Louis Antoine de Bougainville yesterday. By Hilaire Bule

The Chairman of the 7th Melanesian Arts and Cultural Festival (MACFEST) committee, Richard Shing, has confirmed that a custom ceremony will take place tomorrow on the island of Ifira to honour the chiefs of Ifira and Vanuatu for hosting the festival on their land.

Mr. Shing stated that his committee will perform a custom ceremony to pay tribute to the chiefs of Ifira and Malvatumauri. This ceremony will be witnessed by the participants and their leaders before proceeding to Saralana for the official opening of the festival.

Expressing pride in Port Vila as the host city, Mr. Shing appealed to the city’s residents to take care of their Melanesian brothers and sisters from other countries participating in the festival. The chairman stressed the committee’s desire for all participants, both local and from Melanesia, to leave Port Vila with cherished memories of their time at the festival.

Regarding security, Shing assured strong measures would be in place throughout the two weeks of festivities. However, he appealed to the public to show respect and hospitality to the visiting friends and guests. Fiji, New Caledonia, and Solomon Islands have already arrived in Port Vila, while Papua New Guinea is expected to arrive before the official opening tomorrow.

Yesterday, 136 participants from New Caledonia landed at Port Vila International Airport, where they were warmly welcomed by Mr. Shing amidst the melodies of a local string band. After their arrival, the participants embarked on a convoy to Lycee Louis Antoine de Bougainville, where they were greeted by over 100 dancers from Tanna and Pentecost.

As for local participants, the majority arrived in Port Vila during the past week and over the weekend, with the exception of those from TORBA Province. The committee explained that the delay in the arrival of participants from the northern province was due to severe weather conditions currently affecting the country.

One participant from Pentecost shared their challenging journey, facing rough seas from their island to Port Vila. Over the weekend, 71 participants from Ambae, Maewo, and Pentecost arrived and were welcomed by their chief representatives and Members of Parliament at the Mwebalehan Association in Anambrou on Sunday evening.

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