Tannese Noah and the ark story retold through song and dance at Jon celebrations (John Frum), Feb 2016
Interaction with Don’t Throw the Book at Them by Harry Box
To live on Tanna is to live in the land of stories. Perhaps this is a familiar experience for other westerners living within oral societies. All people love stories; it seems we’re wired for them. But here, they carry out functions that are foreign to us. For example, stories can function somewhat like a title-deed for land ownership. Stories are also fundamental to all Tanna’s religious movements, conveying and reinforcing their ideals and values. When someone came to our closest village promoting a new movement, he came telling a story.
Box’s fundamental question in this chapter is: ‘Do oral societies have a system of communication that is adequate for receiving and passing on the Christian message?’ Box’s answer is, unsurprisingly an emphatic yes. I will summarize Box’s chapter and then add my own thoughts as to how we might answer Box’s question in relation to any particular oral culture with particular reference to oral communication on Tanna. Continue reading →
There are no rabbits on Tanna. There are also no chocolate eggs in the stores. That’s cool with me, I don’t like chocolate much anyway. For those who do, I have been able to get my hands on two packs of Tymos – much like the Australian Tim Tam but better because they come in coconut flavour. Personally, I would prefer the rabbit itself, but as I said, none of them either.
Eggs aren’t a part of Easter here. Why would they be? Even if people did know what a rabbit was, I’m pretty sure they could take a fair guess and say that they don’t lay eggs. An egg-delivering fur-ball just isn’t part of their past. But it is part of ours of course. Continue reading →
John G. Paton and his wife Mary, who would soon give birth to their first child, landed at Port Resolution in 1858. They were not the first missionaries to serve in the Port Resolution area of Tanna and they were certainly not the last. Continue reading →
‘A – a – ants,’ the class chants, diligently repeating after the teacher. Along with the photocopy of the alphabet and its corresponding sounds, the students each have a copy of John’s Gospel in front of them; a book they very much hope to be able to read one day after completing the three modules of their literacy course. ‘It will only be through reading it for themselves that they will really change,’ the mission worker explained to me. After watching for a while, I had the feeling that it will be a long process. But when they have come as far as they have, there must be hope. Continue reading →