by Eric Waddell
Pacific Islands Monograph Series, No. 23
Published in association with the Center for Pacific Islands Studies, Univeristy of Hawai‘i
Jean-Marie Tjibaou is arguably the most important post–World War II Oceanic leader. His intellectual abilities, acute understanding of both Melanesian and European civilizations, stature as a statesman, commitment to nonviolence, and vision for Melanesia’s potential contributions to the global community have all contributed to the creation of a remarkable and enduring legacy. Until now, no substantial English-language study has existed of Tjibaou, who was assassinated in 1989. This intellectual biography of the Kanak (New Caledonia) leader takes an essentially chronological approach to his life—from his beginnings in the mountains of northern New Caledonia and his studies at the Sorbonne to his leadership of the independence movement in the Territory. The work focuses on the spiritual, cultural, and intellectual sources of Tjibaou’s ideas and actions as well as on those who were a source of inspiration to him.
Particular attention is given to Tjibaou’s sense of service, the convergences and divergences he identified as existing between Melanesian and Western civilizations, and the impact of metropolitan French politics on the situation in the Territory. In addition, the book explores the fracture between the Grande Terre and the Loyalty Islands, one with deep historical roots that help explain why Tjibaou’s assassin, Djubelly Wéa, was not a “crazy fanatic” but the product of a distinctive reality—with a very different cultural and political reading of New Caledonia’s destiny.
21 illus., 3 maps
Eric Waddell is an independent scholar with attachments to the Département de géographie, Université Laval, Canada, and the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney