In the male dominated arena of politics, a special recommendation has to be given to any woman brave enough to enter the blood thirsty arena. It is great to see how Ms Hilary Clinton has once more appeared in the headlines, now backing Barack Obama.
A world away, another woman is facing unbelievable odds. On a tropical island in Vanuatu, in the South Pacific, Mrs Jenny Ligo is under pressure from an unexpected source.
Earlier this year Jenny followed in her famous Aunt's footsteps when she was granted a chiefly title, by the head of the National Council of Chiefs, Chief Paul Tahi.
Jenny was first liberally dusted with baby powder, a symbol of good luck and well done. Just where this custom arose from, no one knows, but beware if you are an honored guest in Vanuatu. You too will be thoroughly dusted with baby powder.
Jenny ceremoniously killed eleven pigs, in order to enter the brutal field of politics. Jenny has also ceremoniously killed eleven pigs at her wedding to Joe Ligo late last year.
Jenny is the niece of the Political and Women's rights’ activist, Grace Molisa. Mrs Molisa became the first woman to hold the Position of Private Secretary to the nation's first Prime Minister, late Father Walter Lini, after the nation's independence, 28 years ago.
In Vanuatu the general election is only weeks away and Mrs Ligo has returned to her home island of Ambae. As this courageous lady traveled to most parts of the island, all should have been plain going for her. Wrong!
Chief Moli Tari, speaking on behalf of some of the chiefs of Ambae, stated that Mrs Ligo would not be permitted to contest in the Ambae constituency, according to the island's custom principles. Surprisingly this never floated to the surface when the pig killing ceremony took place earlier this year. Perhaps the ancient custom principles from this island change from day to day?
Chief Moli has told Jenny that she can only contest the Ambae constituency under one condition. She must perform a custom ceremony to the chiefs , presenting them with 10 tusked pigs. This is because Jenny was married to Joe Ligo on another island, the island of Pentecost.
In Vanuatu you can't walk into a sales yard and buy 10 tusked pigs. Particularly if the pigs are of a good age and size. Pig tusks are real currency. They are one of the highly prized possessions and are the wealth of every village. The Tari Buri Bank, headed by Chief Viraleo is thought to have nearly $ 1 billion in collateral, in pig tusks in the bank's fourteen branches. The bank offers mortgages, as well as easy credit and pays a handsome 15% interest. The bank has reserves, cheque books, accounts and tight security, even though most of the security is done by snakes and spirits.
Often the tusks are still attached to the dead pig's skull. Pigs which produce the highly prized curled tusks, have their top teeth removed to allow the bottom teeth to curl. For the remainder of their life they are hand fed. The pig must be kept tied up in order to prevent any damage to the tusk. The older the pig is, the better the curl. The very rare three curled tusk is worn only by chiefs.
It is still a common practice in some areas, for women to pay school fees with pig tusks currency. Many more children would never have the opportunity to go to school, in a society where villagers live on under $1 per day. This is not a problem, where the land provides most of the villager's needs.
Where does Mrs Ligo purchase the highly prized 10 pigs she may have to give Chief Moli and his chiefs? Especially as Chief Moli is not living on the island of Ambae. Will Jenny have to present the pigs on Ambae island, or to the chiefs living on the distant island of Santo? will the pigs get to fly?
The plot thickens as Chief Benwel Garae of North Ambae and Chief Pascal Sese of Lolopuepue step into the political arena. The two chiefs come from the chiefly rank of Mambuhangvulu, the second highest rank of the Ambae chiefly system. Jenny also comes from that tribe.
The chiefs told the local newspaper in the capital of Vanuatu, “If Chief Moli lived on Ambae he would not question Mrs Ligo's right to participate in the political environment. The call made by Chief Moli is childish and totally without substance. "
Jenny would be very happy to meet with Chief Moli face to face, but for some unknown reason, Chief Moli is unattainable.
We have confidence that the strongly determined, former chairwoman for the Vanuatu National Council of Women has all she needs to contest this upcoming election. Jenny is the kind of candidate who can alter the education situation where there is no free education. As a mother, and gently spoken woman, Jenny has a real heart for the next generation
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