History of Walter Lini
A former Anglican priest, Father Walter Lini became the first Prime Minister of the newly declared sovereign state of Vanuatu in 1980. A man of great integrity, his term in the office had gone through various political turmoil at times. With socialist views and strong Christian values, he didn’t shy away from standing up against the colonial powers. He was famously known as a prominent opponent to nuclear testing in the Pacific and pledged at the world stage, cautioning the overpowering foreign military presence and subsequent geopolitical instability in the region at that time. Throughout his tenure as the Head of Government, his cabinet established diplomatic relationships with the Soviet Union and other communist proclaimed nations such as Libya, Cuba and Vietnam, causing a serious rift with the
West.. A co-founder of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), he advocated for the independence movement in New Caledonia and East Timor from the Indonesian control.
For a young nation, to garner such a huge influence in so little time, is an achievement for Vanuatu at that time. During his term, Lini ensured that larger nations learn to respect this small island nation of Vanuatu. Lini left office in 1991 and passed away on February 21st 1999. Father Walter Lini Day has been a public holiday in Vanuatu since 1999. How is this day Celebrated? In Port Vila, all Members of Parliamentattend the Lini Memorial Service at the Anglican Church at Tagabe, Smet Area. After the service, is the laying of floral wreaths on the Lini Memorial headstone followed by speeches from the MPs, and a public
lunch. Back in Lini’s home island, the people of North Pentecost pay tribute to this day by hosting the annual Lini Day Festival or through sporting events in North Pentecost.
The Lini Day Festivals involve cultural activities such as traditional cooking, weaving, gardening, traditional methods of house construction, children’s traditional games, storytelling, hunting and fishing methods and much more. Leaders from different centres on the island of Pentecost would also travel long distances to partake in the Lini memorial day at his tomb at Nazareth in North Pentecost. This year, the Lini Day Festival will take place again in North Pentecost.
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