Vailala Movement

Also known as “Vailala Madness”, this movement is one of the best documented cargo cults of the colonial period. In the Gulf district in 1919 the people suspended their usual activities, abandoned traditional ceremonies, imitated European ways, and prepared platforms and feasts to welcome their ancestors whom they believed were about to arrive with vast quantities of Western goods. This “cargo”, flour, rice, tobacco and other goods, had, they believed, been produced by their ancestors but misappropriated by white men who would be driven out when the ancestors came. The movement was known as “madness” because of the erratic physical behavior and hysteria of some of its members.