Story by Matthew “Nawarake” Hard­wick. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Graham Crumb.

Island Life - - Contents -

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

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