By,Winston Tarere(Daily Post. vu )
"Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna…hosanna to the son of David…blessed is he
who comes in the name of the Lord…hosanna in the highest!” The cheers of
children singing ‘hosanna’, dramatizing the triumphant entry of Jesus
into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday welcomed the beginning of the Holy Week.
World and regional events this month, the subsequent passion and death,
resurrection and ascension – at the beginning of the Common Era – amidst
the trials and victories of our realities got me thinking.
Are we witnessing the alignment of planets with the sun in the solar
system of regional politics and world events that jolts in such a new
era of increased awareness for justice, and faith being put into action?
Moana Carcasses’ election, as the first naturalized citizen – of
Tahitian descent – as new Prime Minister is the dawning of a new era,
one that tests confidence on the provisions of rights and freedom in
Pope Francis’ election is another. Since the post apostolic age, Pope
Francis I is the first pope not from continental Europe. The Holy See
of Rome for the first time rode into Saint Peter’s Square on Palm Sunday
without any bullet proof glass. On Maundy Thursday when Christian
faiths keep a prayer watch to remember Jesus on Mount Olives before his
arrest, Pope Francis will conduct a first ever special service in a
juvenile detention center.
Similar in magnitude, the enthronement of the global leader of
Anglicans, Arch Bishop Justin Welby of Canterbury was done for the first
time by a woman, who is also the first female Arch Deacon of
Canterbury, the Venerable Sheila Watson. The new Arch Bishop Welby
prophesied a woman will one day head the Anglican Church.
The 10th General Assembly of the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC)
endorsed in Honiara the re-inscription of Tahiti on the UN
decolonization list. It also mandated the World Conference of Churches
(WCC) to lobby the UN to investigate human rights abuses in West Papua
and its independence. The issues of West Papua and Tahiti independence
have become faith issues.
Of unequivocal importance is the government stand, to lobby for West
Papua observer or full membership status at the June Melanesian
Spearhead Group (MSG) leader’s summit in New Caledonia.
When you look at these events with an eye of faith, it seems the
script for the political drama that unfolded in parliament and was
already written as part of a global trend of change.
It began when pacific church leaders debated the issue of
independence for Tahiti in Honiara. Coincidentally, the PCC assembly
debated freedom from Paris on March 6th, a day after the ‘Gospel Day’,
or "Arrivee de l’Evangile”, which marks the day London Missionary
Society (LMS) missionaries first arrived with the Gospel in the pacific.
They arrived aboard the Christian ship ‘Duff’, which anchored off the
coast of Tahiti at Matavai Bay on March 5th 1797.
The Gospel of Christ was first planted in Tahiti 216 years ago.
Tahitian teachers evangelized Cook Islands Samoa, Tonga, who then
evangelized Fiji, Micronesia and Melanesia. Tahiti, is the Jerusalem of
pacific Christian faith and cradle of its modern civilization. Wherever
the gospel went, trade, commerce and the imposition of Victorian morals
and ways followed.
Coincidentally, the spreading of the Gospel westward retraces the
ancient migration route of the pacific people which originated from the
Asian continent eastward into West Papua and PNG into the rest of
Melanesia and Polynesia.
In this we witness two great movements across the Pacific Ocean from
West Papua in the west to Tahiti in the east and back west again. They
represent two great victories and triumphant entries as our people
populated new land and brought the Gospel to transform us from our old
If we look closely, the two points of these two great entries and New
Caledonia in the south of Melanesia form an inverted triangle of
bondage, where people are still under colonial oppression.
So why does the hope and aspirations of the Maohi people, the Kanaky
and the West Papuans matter to us, and why do we care so much that we
can change governments simply because they do not support these causes
Anthropologists will tell you that Vanuatu is the focal point of all
migrations in the pacific. All countries east of Vanuatu settled or
landed temporarily in Vanuatu before they made the journey east to Fiji
all the way to Tahiti and south to New Caledonia. Through Vanuatu all
pacific people can trace their ancestry through the Solomon Islands,
PNG, West Papua, into the Asian continent and all the way to Africa.
All countries north, south and east of Vanuatu share a deep cultural
connection and linguistic connection because they can call Vanuatu their
ancestral home or point of dispersal.
Moana in most Polynesian languages is the word for ocean.
In the Moana theology of the ocean authored by the Arch Bishop
Winston Halapua of the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia, it is the ocean or
the moana, that surrounds all our different pacific islands, ethnic
groups, joins us and gives us a single identity as pacific people, or
people of the moana. This has deep theological underpinnings and
inference to the church as the body of Christ made up of the different
parts, but united through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit made
available on Pentecost.
As we observe the passion of Jesus and the seven words of the cross,
we must bear in mind that the Maohi, Kanak and West Papuan are also
going through a time of suffering. Their people are being tried under
Pontius Pilates who wash their hands off their cause. Most are executed
simply because they want the freedom and right to self-determination.
They too want to experience a resurrection with our Lord, into a new
beginning that gives them freedom to willfully follow Christ. Christ
desires that we offer our lives and services to his kingdom on our own
accord and freewill.
But how can they willfully give their lives and service to God, their
country and their people when they do not have the freewill to
determine their own destiny?
Several points need special mention.
Moana’s election is no coincidence. When our leaders neglect their
responsibility to the struggles and aspirations of the oppressed, God
raises someone from the land of the oppressed, through which he
introduced the gospel to shed light on our Christian duty to those under
the yoke of colonialism.
God raises the hope of the oppressed people of the moana through the
election of Moana. Whether he takes up the cause with his heart or his
pocket will determine how long he stays in power.
When the Gospel moved from Jerusalem to the west and Jews dispersed
all over the world, it took a Great Britain, a western nation to go back
east and re-establish a homeland for the Jews in the modern state of
The great movements across the pacific continuously swing back and
forth like a pendulum, bringing sweeping changes with Vanuatu at its
center. It is swinging from East to West at the moment. Whether it will
bring change for West Papua will depend on Moana or Vanuatu getting West
Papua into the MSG as an observer in June at the leader’s summit.
When Fr. Lini said Vanuatu cannot be truly free until the rest of
the pacific is free, he was not merely making a political statement, but
a prophetic one. We are all under the inverted triangle of bondage.
Unless we break down the pyramid of power that strangles our people and
the resources of our land, we will never be truly free.