CALLING JOHN FRUM

Religion

Nobody in Tanna, Vanuatu seems to be able to agree on who exactly John Frum is. Some claim that he is a native named Manehivi who began to appear on the island dressed in Western clothes and laden with promises. Others insist that he appeared only during kava-induced hallucinations. Another popular theory is that he was an American soldier who was revered because he happened to "fall from the skies" with endless supplies of cigarettes and cola.

The only thing that they do agree on is that he will come on February 15th. And so the day is considered the most important on the Tanna calendar. John Frum Day celebrations start off with the villagers donning G.I uniforms, making bamboo rifles, and painting "USA" on their bodies while marching around town, drinking kava and singing songs about his return.

As the wait for John Frum reaches its sixth decade, it is easy to judge Tanna locals naive. Until you realise that Chief Issac, head of the tribe, has a point. He defends the practice by saying: “You Christians have been waiting 2,000 years for Jesus to return to earth, and you haven’t given up hope.”

Image: John Frum Day via