For Chrissy Lulait, 52, a ni-Vanuatu mother of four and grandmother of three, she is so impressed with the development progress Vanuatu has achieved in the last 38 years.
She challenges her Kanak friends to come to Vanuatu to see for themselves how wrong they have been to claim that winning freedom in 1980 has reduced Vanuatu to poverty.
This is the first time for her as well as her last born daughter, Jenny Lulait, 26, to attend the country’s Independence Anniversary Ceremony in Port Vila.
“I have seen with my own eyes that Vanuatu has progressed in leaps and bounds and I feel deep joy in my heart to see our own police and soldiers on parade. I have brought one of my three daughters with me to see this for herself. She has a French passport”.
Asked what message she has for her Kanak friends, she replies, “I recommend that they come to Vanuatu to see for themselves that they have been misled into believing that our country is poor because it is not true at all.
“I also tell them that independence means not depending on someone else to support you but it means sweat and hard work to achieve progress by yourself and our people are making that progress”.
Chrissy Lulait went to New Caledonia at seventeen years old and was adopted by a family from Ouvea Island. She got married and settled in the French Territory.
She says her Kanak family and friends are not sure if independence is a good thing which is why they prefer to stick with France.
Her French citizen daughter says she is impressed with what she has seen in Port Vila and is satisfied that Vanuatu is beautiful and deserves to be an independent nation.
Alice Paeten-Whap, a Kanak grandmother from Mare and her husband have visited Port Vila in a group of seven and are returning to Noumea today.
Asked if it is their first time she says she and her husband visit on July 30 every year.
“We come to join in your ‘la fete’. We came last year and it was different from this latest one, it is even better than last year’s”, she confirms.
Asked to say what she expects to happen at the forthcoming referendum in New Caledonia on November 4 this year, she says in her personal opinion, and she is not speaking on behalf of her husband, “Whether our referendum becomes successful or not cannot be predicted but I come here also to appreciate your traditional artefacts like your locally woven hats and baskets and ‘kaekae’ at the market because in New Caledonia, we have moved away from our customs and culture and we stand the risk of losing our indigenous life skills”, she explains.
Asked if she enjoys the celebrations she replies, “Trop, super, I enjoy it very much”.
Asked to confirm if in her opinion, it is true that Vanuatu is poor, she replies, “It is not true at all that Vanuatu is poor. In my personal opinion, the claim is perhaps an attempt to discourage us from having an independent idea of Vanuatu’s situation as a sovereign nation. But to me personally, coming here and seeing how the people of Vanuatu themselves have successfully taken their country this far is like a dream”.
Her husband cannot be reached as he is out shopping.