From the Independent: Strange island: Pacific tribesmen come to study Britain.
In March this year, a British TV company invited a small tribe called the Kastam, from the tiny South Pacific island of Tanna, to send a delegation to England, a country none of its people had ever visited before. They spent a month living here, learning our customs, and making a film about the way the strange and alien inhabitants of a modern western democracy live. The five men walking up the Mall are this delegation. We are witnessing the final chapter of their incredible journey.
…until now, anthropology has always been a one-way street; alien cultures have never ” gone native” over here. The project was an experiment in what one might call reverse anthropology.
A very strange experiment it was too. The five men, whose names are Yapa, Joel, JJ, Posen and Albi, come from a small hillside village on Tanna, which is the southern tip of the archipelago that makes up the island nation of Vanuatu. At home, they live in mud huts, wear nothing but penis sheaths made from grass, and while away days conforming to a sort of tropical cliché: tending crops, looking after pigs and sitting contentedly in the shade of the banyan tree.
The hurly-burly of central London, where I was invited to follow the group for a day, couldn’t be more different. For men who had grown up in a place where the only form of currency is pigs, and innovations such as electricity, television and the internal combustion engine never caught on, the land of skyscrapers and unbridled capitalism isn’t just another country. It might as well be another planet. [continue]