Once a girl named Grace Mera was born. She was her parents’ only child. Her father, an Anglican priest, died six months after her birth. His family and her mother’s family took it upon themselves to prepare Grace for leadership.
There were only schools for boys on Ambae at the time, so Grace went there. She gained respect and was an outstanding student, becoming a teacher herself. She became the first New Hebridean woman to head a senior primary boarding school for girls and boys, on Ambae, and later became the first New Hebridean woman to gain a university degree.
After graduating, Grace returned to a country preparing for independence from Britain and France. She wanted to help too, and became a key political adviser to the New Hebridean Chief Minister and then to the first Prime Minister of Vanuatu.
Grace is particularly famous for her poems and essays about changes in an emerging Vanuatu. She used her poetry to talk about feminism and political independence. Blackstone is the name of her first published collection of poems. Her poem As Need Dictates describes her urge to write creatively: “My verses / not intended / as jokes / provoking / merriment / raise issues / stimulating / second thoughts.”
The mother of three children also used her commanding yet gentle voice to speak powerfully around the world and at home about issues important to Vanuatu.
Grace was busy educating people and communities until she sadly passed away in 2002. She is often remembered as ‘Amazing Grace’, and Vanuatu celebrates her wisdom and her legacy of truly indigenous and respected leadership.
have a right
to be Free.
Free to think
Free to express
Free to choose
Free to love
And be loved
as Woman Vanuatu.
Grace Mera Molisa
from Colonised People (1987)
This story is from the Vanuatu Children’s Book “Taf Tumas! Different Journeys, Once People.”
Author : Ketty Napwatt
Artist : Chad Napwatt