What Is A Cargo Cult?

A cargo cult is a religious movement usually practiced in remote islands where believers link prosperity to the return of a savior. The history of mercantile cults dates back to the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, when islands explored in the world’s oceans were explored by European explorers. The first form of cargo cult was observed during the Fijian Tuka movement of 1885 during the British colonial plantation colonialism. The Tuka movement revolved around a local leader in Fiji known as Tuka who had experienced the harsh conditions brought by British colonialists that caused widespread reminiscences of ancestral effectiveness. Tuka taught his followers that to the island to regain his lost cultural glory, the inhabitants of the island had to return to their traditional beliefs and practices. Tuka was subsequently arrested and exiled by the British authorities who saw him as a rebel.

Cargo Cultism In Melanesia

The most studied and most famous example of the cargo cult occurred in Melanesia during the Second World War. Melanesia is the Pacific region that includes several islands including the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vanuatu. During World War II, Japanese and Allied forces engaged in Pacific theater and founded bases in several islands of Melanesia. As the war continued, forces received new supplies that had been launched by military aircraft. The native population of these islands suffered a huge cultural shock as most of them had no contact with the outside world. The native Melanesians were amazed by the advanced technology possessed by their new visitors who often shared weapons, food and clothes with them. Locals who had observed forces conducting military exercises and parades believed that the activities were religious rituals that led to the arrival of the cargo. After the war was over and the forces withdrew from the islands, the locals were left wondering where they would get the power to “summon” the cargo from the sky and started creating replicas of military equipment used by the forces. A laden cult was formed which believed that a Western figure known as John Frum would be their savior who would return with the load. The cult of cargo that revolves around John Frum still exists, despite the numerous efforts made by the US navy to explain the source of the cargo. According to the believers of the cult,

Other examples of Cargo Cults

Since the late 19th century, many forms of cargo cults have sprung up in many remote locations. Some of the few that still exist include the Prince Phillip movement on the island of Tanna, where believers worship the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip. Another cargo cult is the Turaga movement, practiced by the natives of the island of Pentecost, Vanuatu. The Tom Navy Movement is another cargo cult practiced on the island of Tanna and is believed to be based on a Mississippi military, Tom Beatty.

Caring cults and Christianity

The advent of the cargo cult has led to a controversial explanation of the origin of Christianity. Shortly after the Second World War, the US Navy embarked on a mission to convince believers of the cargo sects to renounce their convictions. However, the natives were adamant in their beliefs by comparing their beliefs with the Christians who were waiting for the coming of Christ for more than 2,000 years. This statement was cited by several scholars when discussing the origin of Christianity.

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