I wasn’t enthusiastic about attending a circumcision ceremony having walked 24 km to view a volcano the previous day. Three hours later I had no regrets. Torpedo like yams paraded past me as if in a military setting. A bullock was butchered in front of the crowd and a 12 yr old boy killed three pigs . All to celebrate the circumcision of three boys.
Captain Cook’s legacy
The name Ambrym means yam, bestowed on the island by Captain Cook and prominent in the ceremony they were. However pigs provided the main event.
Pigs and kustom
Pigs are the principal objects of wealth in Vanuatu. They are accumulated, traded, loaned, and paid out to resolve disputes. Pigs are central to kustom and are pampered, revered, and sacrificed. Killing a set number of pigs gives a man high status. When the pigs are killed, the killer assumes their spirits, gaining power and prestige among his village.
Circumcisions are a one time thing and the ceremony reflected this. The Ranon community gathered as if partaking in a wedding or a funeral.