Story by Matthew “Nawarake” Hardwick. Photography by Graham Crumb.
The night before tropical Cyclone PAM struck Port Vila and influenced almost every aspect of life in Vanuatu, only one topic of note could be overheard among the many
hushed conversations at the nakamal. The “Monster” cyclone was coming.
had been working on his music videos was completely destroyed. A worried expression crossed Bobby’s face as he hoped aloud that the external hard drives used during production were safely stored away before the cyclone struck. If they were damaged, weeks of effort spent filming and editing would be wasted. In the days and weeks that followed Cyclone Pam, the people of Vanuatu worked tirelessly to provide water, food and shelter to those in need. Farmers who had lost everything started replanting right away. Women and children cleaned their yards and streets of debris. Iron roofing sheets were picked off the ground and nailed back onto houses to block the rain. Small business owners busily made repairs, chainsaws and hammers rang out from ever corner of town. Communities made repairs to churches and community halls. There was a feeling of camaraderie and determination that I sensed, not of dread and despair. Many of the international relief workers and media correspondents who poured into the country after the storm remarked on how resilient and strong Ni-vanuatu communities were in the face of such a large disaster. As music is a reflection of life, offering a glimpse into the collective feelings, attitudes and aspirations of the people who compose, perform and produce it, it is no surprise that the music of Vanuatu is resilient and remarkably strong as well in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam. “This experience of living through such a disaster will only inspire us,” Bobby Shing tells me, speaking on behalf of musicians in Vanuatu. I trust that he is right. A few months after the cyclone has passed, musicians across Vanuatu are busy expressing their experiences through song. While moments of pain, sadness and grief will doubtlessly be voiced by some artists, others will surely convey feelings of hope and promise in a renewed start, showing the optimism that accompanies a chance to rebuild. Alcina Charlie and Benson Nakou led an initiative that brought together many prominent artists to create a tribute song to the victims of the storm, to be sold with proceeds donated towards recovery efforts. Artists from different genres took part in the “Giv Hand Festival” in Port Vila on May 9th to showcase their talents and fundraise for communities in need of support after the storm. tan and the Earth Force are busy preparing for their new album once again after weeks of delay. Stan hopes that it will be recorded and ready for sale on itunes by August – September. Almost all of the band’s instruments were preserved from the storm, with the