The Republic of Vanuatu, which was known as New Hebrides until its independence, celebrates its Independence Day on July 30 to commemorate its freedom from the British and French rule in 1980.
The Independence Day that marked an end of the joint colonial rule in Vanuatu is a national holiday in this archipelago of 83 islands, located in the southwest Pacific Ocean. The week-long Independence Day celebrations are held throughout the country, and span throughout afternoon to early hours in morning. The celebrations are a mix of the patriotic activities such as flag hoisting and army parade, and revelry includes local string bands, dancing groups, magic men, and Kava (Kava is a crop grown in western Pacific region. The drink is made with the root of the plant and has sedative and antiseptic elements.), a traditional drink mark the scene of Independence Day celebrations. Natives also paint their faces and dress in traditional costumes on this occasion.
What is the significance of Independence Day in history of Vanuatu?
In 1606, Portuguese explorer, Pedro Fernandes de Queiros, spotted Vanuatu while he was working for the Spanish crown. It was not until a century later that the European interest grew in Vanuatu. In 1768, the French made inroads into Vanuatu, and in 1774, the British navigator, James Cook, visited the region, and named it New Hebrides, which remained its name until its independence in 1980.
By 1830, the European influx grew, and both French and British tried to establish their dominance over the archipelago. The 19th century saw coming of Catholic and Protestant missionaries to Vanuatu, and British elbowing French for greater control over Vanuatu. Thus, in 1906 a French-British Condominium (a unique system that combined French and British governments into a joint court) was formed to rule over the islands of New Hebrides. This joint-rule began facing its share of challenges in 1940s, when Americans arrived during the World War II, and nationalistic sentiments sparked off. The demand for independence grew after the World War II, in which the islands of Efate and Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu were used as military base for allied powers.
By 1970, Vanuatu formed its first political party, the New Hebrides National Party, which pushed for the independence in 1980. On July 30, 1980, the dream became a reality, and the Republic of Vanuatu was born.
What does the flag of Vanuatu represents?
The flag of Vanuatu was adopted in February 13, 1980. It is divided into three sectors - a red horizontal band, green horizontal band, and a black triangle to the hoist side. A yellow 'Y' runs from the left side through the middle of the flag separating the red and green bands. A black outline delineates the Y. The black triangle has a motif of a boar's tusk with two fern leaves inside it.
The black signifies Melanesian people that make up majority of its populace, the green represents fertile land; yellow epitomizes Christianity, and peace. The boar's tusk, a customary Vanuatu symbol, represents prosperity and success.
Who wrote the national anthem of Vanuatu?
The national anthem of Vanuatu was adopted in 1980. Titled, "Yumi, Yumi, Yumi, the national anthem is written in the native Bislama language, and it translates to "We, We, We." It was composed by Francois Vincent Ayssav.