Cargo cult in Vanuatu

I’m back from Vanuatu, where I was working on a story about John Frum cargo cult. If you watched some documentaries about Melanesia, where natives worship wooden planes, and waiting for cargo to arrive from the sky – you know what it is. Unfortunately, time has passed and cargo cults are dying. There are still few in Papua New Guinea and couple on Vanuatuan island of Tanna.

I spend more than a week in a remote village in Tanna, living far from mobile phones, internet and electricity, eating local food and drinking rain water and kava. Although I couldn’t take pictures of wooden planes (they simply don’t exist anymore) I’ve photographed many other interesting things. And can say, that Cargo Cults are still alive. But you better rush to see it, I don’t believe that they will exist, 10 years from now.

Locals during the everyday ceremony of American flag raising, that take place in Lamakara village. Tanna island, Vanuatu.


  1. Tom Richards

    I love your work. I have an interest in these cults (I am a christian). Can you tell me more about what you found and why you don’t think these cults will be around for long?

    • Vlad Sokhin

      Well, on Tanna there is a new sect, called “Unity John in Christ”. They try to turn John Frum Cargo Cult’s followers into Christianity (and they do it successfully as I saw). Nowadays there are not a lot of young people who believe in John Frum as a messiah and the cult’s leaders are very old and don’t have successors…

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