A DAY BEFORE the entire nation gathers to observe Constitution Day a total of 25 young people from around Port Vila learn about the reasons why we have a National Constitution at the Youth Challenge Vanuatu (YCV) Conference room.
The awareness session about Constitution was initiated by YCV in partnership with Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) who is providing the facilitator for this important civic awareness session.
Youth challenge Vanuatu is a youth oriented organization that has been operating in Vanuatu for over a decade with a focus on youth empowerment and youth up-skilling. The organization works to empower “young people to reach and realize their potential through community development, leadership, business and employment programs and services” according to information from their website.
In an interview with the Executive Director of YCV Shirley Abraham, she mentioned that they facilitate short workshops at their Youth Centre, “and an important one is the Constitution Workshop for our young people” she emphasizes.
“So we are very happy to have Transparency (International Vanuatu) here with us to work with our 25 young people and to go through the Constitution so that they know some important facts about the Constitution” says Shirley, “and to mark the Constitution Day, YCV is privileged and proud to educate our young people with the assistance of Transparency International Vanuatu”.
The National Constitution, locally known as the ‘Mama Loa’, has an interesting history behind it says Mr. Ati George Sokomanu who was part of the Constitutional Committee that drafted the Constitution in 1979.
The Constitutional Committee consisted of representatives of different political parties, religious leaders, and tribal chiefs. The Constitution was signed on October 5 in 1979 and came into force on the 30th of July, 1980 – Independence Day.
“When God send Moses to Mount Sinai He gave him two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them. The National Constitution is like Vanuatu’s Ten Commandments…to guide us” said Mr. Sokomanu in an interview with TIV back in 2016.
“Between 1979 and 1980 the group (founding leaders) formed the constitution and legislations to prove to the colonial powers that Vanuatu is capable of looking after itself” explained Mr. Sokomanu. “1979 and 1980 were two very important and formal years because we tried to form legislatures on how to move forward independently… (We) wanted to protect our values, beliefs, cultures, faith and be free”.
“We had nothing to protect us. If we did something wrong, whether it be in the French or English Court, you had to face it,” Mr. Sokomanu explained.
TIV has been facilitating educational sessions about the Constitution of Vanuatu for more than a decade, TIV maybe the only organization in Vanuatu that has freely distributed thousands of Constitution Books throughout the islands of Vanuatu alongside Civic Education Workshops.
Happy Constitution Day People of Vanuatu!