Vanuatu: Rising for our Ancestors
Isso Nihmei, 350 Vanuatu Coordinator.
Leading up to Rise for Climate, the Global Day of Action on September 8th, our Vanuatu Climate Warriors returned to Teuma Futuna Community where Ta Reo Vanuatu was built by the hands of our elders. Ta Reo was the voice of our country, represented in the canoe used to blockade coals ships (Rhine’s) in Newcastle, Australia. The return was an emotional moment for the warriors. Entering the nakamal (meeting place) that saw the launch of the canoe in August 2014 brought back memories of Chief Johnson Kawa’s words:
“We are taking this canoe as a message to represent our culture, our identity, and the future of our children.”
It has been two years since Chief Johnson Kawa’s passing, and his nakamal remains committed to customary practices and protection, with his words still living through so many of us who knew him well. We also remember the words of Edward Nipake Natapei:
“This Canoe represents the voice of Vanuatu. Ta Reo in Futunese language is more than just our voice, it is our struggle and the tears from our mothers and children, and today climate change has become our biggest challenge and our enemy.”
Four years ago on July 28, Vanuatu mourned the death of the great leader, Chief Tuta Fanua Ariki Edward Nipake Natapei, and we will continue to live by his words and by his examples.
Today, climate change is still our greatest challenge and our islands are facing the worst consequences of our generation. Our ancestors were great warriors, fighting to protect our lands, our people and our tribes. Today, we must combine our resilience with the legacy of our ancestors, to protect the homes that remain, and secure a Vanuatu for the future.
Even with the loss of so many of our great leaders and Fatoriki (paramount chiefs), we believe we are still guided by their spirits. This September, our climate warriors are rising.
We rise for our elders past. We rise for our people present. We rise for a fast and fair transition to a fossil free world.