Tribal Kastom Dances are one of the key ways that the ni-vanuatu mark the importance of key events in their lives. Every birth, death, circumcision, initiation, marriage and crop planting or harvesting event is marked by celebrations of drink, dance and storytelling. The kastom dances are usually held in a sacred area dedicated for dancing called a nasara.


Sept 26, 2005

Donna & Marv in their dinghy and Emma and Axel with us, we skimmed over the reefs in the shallow water through the mangroves to neighboring Awai Island.
When we arrived the villagers were very excited to see us and everyone came running to greet us. Apparently, they had not performed the Namba ceremony very many times for visitors and consequently they didn't see many outsiders.

The children were glued to us with curious faces and we got the feeling that WE were the entertainment!


The local women had made lays for us. 

As it turned out, Gord was "layed" by the same woman that had been making passes at him when we attended Church in Awei.

We got a tour of the primitive village of 200 people who were all very friendly and welcoming.  They lived with no electricity in a village dominated by children. 

A band played
" Wecum to our Willage "
for us with the washtub bass made from wood


These children freaked  and started to scream when I took their photo as they were not use to cameras.

Children of the village are curious of us. Our presence in their village is a big event

Emma watches the preparation of the kava, which is much stronger than Fiji kava. They actually use a meat grinder instead of using the method of pounding the root as is done in Fiji. The little lights from burning lanterns are common nighttime sights marking the location of Kava Bars.


Kastom Customs

While some Tribal Kastom Dances are restricted from viewing by outsiders or female tribal members, some are performed for visitors enabling the sharing of the ni-vanuatu culture with the outside world.

On the island of Malekula there are two main tribal groups; Small Nambas and Large Nambas. The dance we saw was performed by the Small Namba tribe.

The Namba Chicken Dance Begins
The kastom dancing is performed to the rhythm of the traditional tribal hand drums as played by the tribal elders. The tribal chant-singing was also integral to the overall dance presentation. From the bush a group of men emerged single file, stomping and grunting to the rhythm.

The young men wore the traditional Nambas, the leafed covering worn over the male genitalia by those living the traditional village life. Their bodies were decorated with red, white and black paint. They carried large sticks, which they thrust into the ground as part of their choreography.

One of the men was more painted up than the others, he depicted the Chicken and seemed to lead the dance proceedings.

(Ginny and Chicken Man pictured)

After the dance we were escorted back to the village as the sun set. There was a table set up for us with Kava and fruit. Of course, Axel was right into the Kava as he had acquired quite a taste for it. And the band played on.... the children all danced to the music and we danced with them.


Gord examines a hand carved club, along with other crafts on display.


It was getting very dark so we headed back to the boats, navigating over the reefs