in the south pacific:
“In a move designed by Vanuatu tribal chiefs to heal the rift, a young boy and girl will be exchanged between the groups – a practice that has not taken place on the island for more than 200 years.
“Warring tribes on the tiny Pacific island of Tanna have agreed to swap two children to settle a long-running land dispute that descended into violence.
“The clans, who have been arguing over property rights on the island for more than two decades, revived the ancient and controversial custom of child swapping in an attempt to end hostilities after the feud turned violent and several people were injured in a brawl.
“Such a child swap has not taken place in more than 200 years.
“Seth Kaurua, from the Vanuatu Council of Chiefs, said the feud between the two tribes had been going on for 27 years, but the chiefs had to step in when it turned violent and several people were injured….
“The aim of the exchange was to ‘build a bridge between the two tribes and make the relationship stronger….’
“Exchanging children is rare in Tanna, and frowned on by the court system, but it is does take place from time to time. It is not uncommon on the island for a female child to be given away to replace a lost family member – for example if a child is killed in a car accident, the driver could offer one of their own children as reparation….
“While the child does not have to move to its new tribe immediately, they will grow up in the knowledge that they no longer belong to their parents, and will eventually have to leave, Mr Kaurua said.”
from another article on the story:
“WILSON: So does the child typically maintain contact with both families?
“KAURUA: Yes, the child will always stay wherever he wants, he or she can go to the other family as well as the other family, so that’s how, I’m saying it’s like building a bridge across the two different families….
“WILSON: How is the child or the family involved, how are they selected?
“KAURUA: The child is normally selected from the family that is the ringleader to that particular violence.”
child swapping in the form of hostages and fosterage was pretty common in medieval europe — hostages amongst the carolingians and fosterage in the “celtic” fringe for example. in fact, fosterage seems to have lasted into the late eighteenth-century in remote parts of scotland (i know — that last phrase is redundant).
“The Prince Philip Movement is a religious sect followed by the Yaohnanen tribe on the southern island of Tanna in Vanuatu.
“The Yaohnanen believe that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort to Queen Elizabeth II, is a divine being; the pale-skinned son of a mountain spirit and brother of John Frum. According to ancient tales the son travelled over the seas to a distant land, married a powerful lady and would in time return. The villagers had observed the respect accorded to Queen Elizabeth II by colonial officials and came to the conclusion that her husband, Prince Philip, must be the son from their legends….”
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