Vanuatu has three official languages, English, French and Bislama, a creole/Vanuatu language similar to pidgin. In addition, however, there are over one hundred local languages spread throughout the islands as each Island and Village have their own dialect. The trick to understanding Bislama is to allow the words to blend together and listen to them phonetically.
Simple Bislama – tok blong ni-vanuatu phrases
|English Word||Bismala Word|
|The Best||Nambawan (Number One)|
|Very Sorry||Sorry Tumas|
|Filled to Capacity||Fulap|
|Him Her It (No Masculine or Femenin)||Hem|
|Us or We||Mifala|
|All of Us||Mifala Evriwan|
|We have a short wait||Weit smol|
|I am ill||Mi haren no Gud|
|My stomach is sore||Bel blong mi i soa|
|What is that||Wanem ia|
|How much is that||Hamas|
|Do you know||Tu save|
|I do not know||mi no save|
|This is broken||Samting ia hemi bugarap (Something here is buggered up)|
|Can you take me to Port Vila||Yu save sakem mi long Port Vila|
|I am very happy||Mi glad tumas|
|See you later||Mi go|
Trying Tannese kava is quite an experience. If you haven’t already tried kava, it’s a strong herbal drink made from kava root that is a major component of traditional Melanesian culture.
It will be served to you in a coconut half-shell. It tastes like dirt and plant roots and leaves your mouth feeling like you have just had an injection at the dentist. Don’t be fooled by how easy it is to gulp down. After a few minutes, you’ll be heavily sedated and wonder how this innocent concoction could have had such an effect. Kava bars are a common sight in Vanuatu, identified by the lantern or red light hanging from the roadside. Traditionally, kava huts were men only but now it is accepted as a quiet place for men and women to gather at the end of the day. Often constructed from pieces of loose tin and dirt floors, the atmosphere within these huts is one of peace, quiet and calmness. Tannese kava is known for its potency, so be careful how much you have in one sitting.
Black Magic is a part of NiVanuatu culture and the power of village chiefs and medicine men (‘klevers’) is still strong. Does it work? Definitely. Like the Australian Aboriginal ‘pointing of the bone’ there are too many documented cases of magic working for it to be ignored. Black Magic is strongly believed and feared throughout the Vanuatu and the Ni Vanuatu will blame “Black Magic” for almost every illness, death, weather pattern and other unexplained occurrences.