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Swapping Children to End Tribal War in Vanuatu

Tribal chiefs in the remote Pacific island of Vanuatu has taken a drastic step based on a tradition that has not been invoked in 200 years: a children swap to end a long-running tribal war.

Seth Kaurua, from the Vanuatu Council of Chiefs, said the feud between the two tribes had been going on for 27 years, but the chiefs had to step in when it turned violent and several people were injured. "The practice on Tanna for resolving a dispute, whenever it turns to violence, is that we have to use our traditional way.

"One tribe gives away a child, female or male, to the other tribe and the other tribe has to do the same." The aim of the exchange was to "build a bridge between the two tribes and make the relationship stronger."

Mr Kaurua acknowledged that the practice may raise eyebrows outside the Pacific, but said it was "a normal part of our traditional life" in Vanuatu.

Do you agree with the ethics of swapping children (even if it's for the greater good of the tribes?) Link


This is called a "peace child". The concept is not new and even sparked an international production of a new musical in the 80s with the same name. The idea was to host an exchange of performers between the USSR and the USA. I was on the American National tour of this production. I claim no responsibility but the cold war did end shortly thereafter. :)
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If the "bridge between the two tribes" means liberal visiting rights, it might work just fine. The children can keep ties with both their old and new tribes, and grow up to understand both.
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I heard of this practice a few years ago in, believe it or not, a class called "Perspectives of the World Christian Movement". The textbook is a series of articles, one called "Redemptive Analogy" by Don Richardson, who worked in Irian Jaya. The article is about the need for Christian missionaries to learn all they can about the culture that they have been sent to, so as to look for a common practice there that is similar to the redemption found in Christ, hence the title. In that article, Richardson tells of the Asmat tribe in Irian Jaya, who have an almost identical way of making peace. I'll just quote it here:

"Yet the new birth of the gospel can be understood by Irian Jaya's Asmat tribe. They have a way of making peace that requires children from two warring villages to pass through a symbolic birth canal formed by the bodies of a number of men and women from both villages. Those who pass through the canal are considered reborn into the kinship system of their enemy's village. Rocked, lullabied, cradled and coddled like newborn infants, they become the focus of joyful celebration. From then on, they may travel freely back and forth between the two formerly warring villages, serving as living peace bonds. For centuries, this custom has impressed deeply on the Asmat mind the vital concept: True peace can come only through a new birth experience!"

Richardson also authored a book called "Peace Child", about a similar practice in the Sawi tribe of Irian Jaya, in which a father who is an enemy with another father sends one of his own children to be raised by the enemy to make peace. (The closest thing to it in our culture is being an exchange student, and even that usually only lasts a few months at most among adults) Richardson was able to describe Jesus the Christ the "Peace Child" of God, sent by God the Father to make peace with all humanity, for our crimes and offenses (aka sins) against him, the punishment for which is death and full separation from God, the very real hell. By leaving his village (Heaven) and coming to ours (Earth), and being a human in every sense of the term, yet not in sin, he took that punishment for us and let us know that it worked by coming to life again. But like any gift of peace, it must be understood and accepted by each individual for it to apply to that individual. So, will you understand it and accept it, and see to it that you get reborn and switch villages, becoming a child of God? As someone who has, i can tell you that being a child of God is the best thing that has ever happened to me and ever will, and if you do, you will agree.
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It is a truly simple and powerful method to peace in my opinion. I've never heard of a more useful way of establishing peace, it doesn't sound like the children are forced to be alienated from their families, and it will create powerful ties to the next generation so that differences may be resolved. I've never heard of this being done until now but it has sure had an impact on me.
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If I recall my Arthurian legends, the children of nobility were "fostered" by other families as a way of creating political bonds. The fostered child was considered a blood relative, so much so that marrying a foster-sibling was considered incest.

Children from multiple families were fostered out, in a round-robin fashion. Children were sent out, and the same family would take in another child. Bonds between several families were strengthened as a result.

Upper nobility would often secretly foster out the heir in an attempt to protect the child from danger from rival factions. A bonus to this was the child would be raised in a lower-class family, and not know his true station, resulting in a more humble ruler.

In recent years there was a program that paired Israeli and Palestinian children to spend a summer together in an American home. It was a bid for a more peaceful future.

Edie
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It worked for a while for Darkseid and the Allfather... If the shaman couple of that tribe sends a baby in a kanoo out to the world to make it the sole survivor from impending doom from a nearby vulkano, it's getting eerie.
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Tt was actually a common practice in midieval Europe to send at least one child to another family to raise. It was a way of deterring conflict or agression between landed families.
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Not everything is acceptable "for the greater good of the tribe".

For example one might sacrifice a virgin for the greater good of the tribe.

The question is: how much will the children suffer. Their society is not comparable to ours and I suspect they raise children slightly different than we do.

The safest bet is to say "No; I don't agree." But who knows, maybe the children are perfectly happy with it.

Kirk Huffman, an anthropologist who has studied the clans of Vanuatu: "The children involved often benefited from the arrangement because they could remain in contact with their family, while gaining a new extended family."
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