Father Lini Day, celebrated on February 21 every year, is a public holiday in Vanuatu. The day commemorates a prominent figure in the history of this South Pacific nation — Father Walter Lini. Did you know that Father Lini was a priest? Yes, before he took charge as the first Prime Minister of the newly formed independent nation of Vanuatu, Father Lini was a ‘Raga’ Anglican priest. From his early days, he observed many injustices against his fellow islanders and wanted to make a difference. So, who is Father Lini, and what’s his role in shaping the country of Vanuatu? Here’s everything you need to know about Vanuatu and Father Lini.
History of Father Lini Day
One of the prominent personalities from Vanuatu was Father Lini, a former Anglican Priest. Given that Britain and France were jointly colonizing the island, his greatest worry was the selling of indigenous territory to outsiders. Father Lini founded the New Hebrides Cultural Association with the help of Donald Kalpokas, John Bani, and other islanders to bring about political reform and drive out the colonial forces. Through his association, he published mouthpiece articles that raised awareness of the importance of independence and ignited the minds of the populace. Later, this group evolved into a political movement that gave rise to the New Hebrides National Party — later known as the Vanua’aku Pati.
In response to nationwide freedom movements, the nation attained independence in 1980. On July 30, 1980, Father Lini was chosen to head the party and was sworn in as Vanuatu’s first prime minister. Because Vanuatu means ‘Our land forever,’ he chose the name for the nation. Father Lini worked there till 1991 before passing on in 1999. As a result, on February 21 of each year, people honor Father Lini by attending memorial services and other special events.
Every year, on this day, national leaders gather at two different venues to commemorate Lini Day. Usually, a church service is conducted, followed by laying wreaths at his tomb with speeches, a customary ceremony, and a traditional feast.
Father Lini Day timeline
People start a movement demanding the independence of the region.
Father Lini becomes the Prime Minister of the independent country Vanuatu.
Father Walter Lini retires from his role as Vanuatu’s Prime Minister.
Father Lini Day is set as a national public holiday to commemorate the death of Father Lini.
Father Lini Day FAQs
What is Vanuatu famous for?
Its breathtaking scenery, unpolluted waterways, WWII shipwrecks, and rich cultural heritage.
What was Vanuatu called before independence?
It was called the jointly administered Aglo-French condominium of ‘Nee Hebrides.’ Following its independence in 1980, it was renamed Vanuatu, meaning ‘Our Land Forever.’
How can I become a citizen of Vanuatu?
Applicants must pay the Vanuatu Government, be over 18 years old, have no criminal record, and provide the required documents and medical certificate.
Father Lini Day Activities
By raising awareness of Father Lini, his part in the independence struggle, and how he helped shape the nation's destiny, you can best observe Father Lini Day. You can spend some time explaining Father Lini to your family and friends.
Enjoy the ceremony
One of the impactful ways to partake in Father Lini Day is by joining in the celebrations and ceremonies that happen on this day. You can even witness many famous personalities at the ceremony.
Share your story
If you have ever traveled to the stunning country of Vanuatu, you can spread the word. Use your social media handles to create awareness about this island nation.
5 Facts About Vanuatu
It is made up of many islands
The nation comprises about 80 islands which cumulatively occupy about 807.8 miles.
It has a small population
Over 300,000 people live in this country, and 82% of them are Christians.
They speak many languages
The national languages of Vanuatu are Bislama, English, and French.
It is an agricultural country
Most people on the islands work in the agricultural sector, making it the backbone of Vanuatu.
It has an interesting landscape
The Islands of Vanuatu are mostly mountainous, trace their origins to volcanic activity and they have tropical to subtropical climates.
Why We Love Father Lini Day
It’s all about history!
Father Lini Day is a national holiday of the independent nation of Vanuatu that celebrates independence. This independence of Vanuatu is a result of the effort, struggle, and sacrifice of thousands of people.
It is a day to celebrate
Although on Father Lini Day, most of the shops and offices may be closed, the day is marked by ceremonies and celebrations. This gives you a reason to celebrate and enjoy independence.
It a day to remember
Father Lini Day is not just a day to remember Father Lini, it’s also a day to remember, honor, and appreciate the people who were behind the freedom of Vanuatu. So, it would be unjust to forget the day.
Father Lini Day dates