Set in the small, tribal village of Yakel on the Vanuatu island of Tanna, this is the
remarkable story of 108-year-old Chief Kowia as he nears the end of his long, eventful life.
The survivor of tribal wars, colonization, epidemics, WW2, violent volcanic eruptions and destructive
cyclones, he’s remained steadfast throughout to his ‘kastom’ life, choosing to reject the trappings of
the modern world in favor of a life free of material goods,- no money, no clothes.
To keep the dangerous world at bay, his people have had to create a world of their own.
The jungle they live in provides life’s necessities. Clothing is made from grass, the village huts
from trees. Bush medicine is in abundance and food crops thrive in the super-fertile volcanic soils
gifted by the relentless, belching eruptions of nearby Mt Yasur
The tribe’s guidelines of love and respect are played out daily in ritual and ceremony - and all
guidance comes from ancestral spirits
It’s a harmonious, peaceful world.
But Chief Kowia is the last of his generation.
As he faces his mortality, he worries what will happen to his people when he is no longer there to guide them.
Will his culture stay strong? Or will the outside world lure his people from their happy, uncluttered lives
tempting them with seemingly greater riches?
Also worrying is the fascination the outside world holds for primitive cultures. Already Yakel village is being
visited by tourists and film crews, clambering to get a peak at an incredible world that has remained unchanged
for hundreds of years, - in turn disrupting and jeopardizing it’s very survival.
Without Chief Kowia’s influence, can the people of Yakel continue to hold the world at bay?