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Vailala Madness

Vailala Madness. The best-known of the early cargo movements, in the Gulf division of Papua. In 1919, an old man, Evara, had trance experiences and prophesied that a steamer would come with the spirits of their ancestors and a cargo of European goods; others had similar visions depicting a coming millennium and sometimes featuring God or Christ. Traditional rituals and objects were attacked, gardens and trade were abandoned, and a new ascetic ethic enjoined Sunday observance, cleanliness, and rejection of personal adornment. It spread rapidly and did not die out till about 1931, but is still remembered as an idealized time of wonders. It was much more than mere anti-white hysteria, for it arose from resentment at the inadequacy of the old ways in comparison with those of the whites.

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