[Originally published in the Vanuatu Daily Post’s Weekender Edition.]

In Parliament, Speaker George Wells is ousted by his own party and VRP leader Maxime Carlot Korman takes his place.

On one short stretch of road in the Freswota neighbourhood alone, one passes no less than 4 small churches.

Not far away, in the bandstand in Freswota Park, a homeless woman, 8 months pregnant, sleeps with her 1-year-old child.

Each of these fragments, taken on its own, paints a curious picture. Piece them together, though, and we begin to understand the corner of the world we live in.

Since Independence, the number of political parties has steadily increased. Likewise the number of independent candidates. Factionalism within the parties continues unchecked. This phenomenon has been documented, studied and commented at length.

Our churches are following a similar trajectory. A pet hypothesis of mine is that the increase in the number and variety of churches (mostly inspired by American Pentecostalism) over the last few decades runs almost perfectly parallel to the number and variety of political groupings.

I suspect that the cause of each trend is the same: Vanuatu society is inherently anti-institutional. Once compelling outside forces are removed from the equation, it tends to look inward, to family first, and then to community.

Some commentators see this as a bad thing. I don’t. Not necessarily.

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