After a solid month of rain in Port Vila, great sodden cavities open up in the road like tunnels to the underworld.
The road around Efate, the main island of Vanuatu, is worse. With bad suspension, it can take an hour to reach a village twenty kilometres away. Before each election, politicians promise to fix the roads, and then lose interest once they’ve won.
‘The state of your roads is a perfect reflection of a failed independence,’ wrote New Caledonian Kanak tourist Maximilien Goyetche in a letter to the editor of weekly newspaper The Independent recently. ‘I’d rather remain with France and be French. Black, but French. We have good roads in New Caledonia, we have nice cars Why would I trade this for the heap of shit like you have?’ he said.
With Vanuatu’s silver jubilee of independence coming up in July, the viability of this independent small island state is a hot topic. Vanuatu is only a youth scrambling up the banyan tree of nationhood, and preparations for the upcoming jubilee are powered by the energy and enthusiasm of adolescence, too. There has been much talk about commemorative T-shirts and marquees in Independence Park, a(nother) public holiday and an amplified celebration that evokes cries of, ‘Ah-weh! We won’t sleep for a week!’
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