Efate was named a friendly island by Presbyterian missionary, Dr. Graham Miller, the author of the “Live” series documenting the work of the missionaries in the then New Hebrides, later to become Vanuatu on Independence. But people from the different islands of Vanuatu who have come and settled on the island over the years have tarnished its reputation.

These are the words of Pastor Allan Nafuki, a senior leader and Assembly Clerk of the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu, speaking at the funeral service for the late Simeon Kaltonga Sope, of Ifira Tenuku, whose service to the country especially during the pro-independence period is immeasurable at the PMC in Port Vila. The late Kaltonga Sope’s support for the colonized people of the region, particularly Timor L’Este and New Caledonia is also probably only surmounted by his nephew Barak Tame Sope, it was revealed.

In his short sermon on the words of Prophet Micah found in Micah Chapter 6: 6-8 “To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly before God”, Pastor Nafuki related the story of Dr. Graham Miller who in his book gave a name to all the islands of Vanuatu that truly represented what the missionaries saw in their days.

“Dr. Miller named Aneityum ‘Nursery Island because that’s where the first missionaries arriving from Samoa set up the service after first arriving at Futuna.

“He named Tanna ‘Volcanoe Island’. He named Erromango “Murder Island”, he said with a chuckle being himself from Erromango.

“When he came to Efate, he named it ‘Friendly Island’, because he found the people very friendly, they share their food and were just very welcoming and friendly.”

“Today, we islanders who are here, have destroyed their friendship with our attitudes that are indifferent to this friendliness.

“You go to the market, you find that the big size root crops are placed on the top of baskets but underneath, there are only small size ones. This is not good, and why is this? It is because the farmers are not from Efate, they come from the other islands,” he added.

He implored all islanders from Vanuatu on Efate to take the attitude of the Efate people that are found in Micah, Chapter 6: 6-8 which to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly before God.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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