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John Frum Movement
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Religion
    (February 15, 1957- )
    Developed on Tanna Island, New Hebrides (now Vanuatu)
    South Pacific cargo cult (religion based on the belief that cargo and Western goods are gifts from the gods)
    Based on local god John Frum who usually takes the form of a black American GI
    Began as a revolt in the 1930s against the British administration
    Regarded the United States Army (that arrived in 1941) as gods sent to overthrow the colonialists
    Made an official religion on February 15, 1957
    John Frum Day celebrated with a parade featuring the American flag and followers marching with imitation, bamboo bayonets
    The meaning of ‘John Frum’ is unclear (although some think it’s short for ‘John from America').
    Oddly, it teaches that to get more Western cargo followers must reject Western ways.
    The US army tried to discouraged the movement, but with no success.
    Many younger Vanuatuans are embarrassed by it.
    David Attenborough called it 'sinister' and 'childishly pathetic.'
    A similar cult developed around Prince Philip after he visited Tanna in 1974.
    Followers build radio towers from bamboo, string and tin cans in the hope that American planes will return with cargo.
    They’ve been waiting for over 60 years.
    When the Americans left, the island lost the plentiful cargo it had become accustomed to.
    Colonial administers frequently imprisoned followers.
    It was in part inspired by the US Army’s egalitarian treatment of its black soldiers.
    It formed the basis of Vanuatu's independence movement.
    Some followers have been elected to parliament.
    It is the longest lasting of the South Pacific cargo cults.
    It tries to preserve Vanuatu's traditions.
    Followers point out that Christians have been waiting far longer for their god to return.

Credit: Georgina


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