I was starting from scratch with the Solomon Islands, to be honest, so I've learned a lot about this island nation and it intrigues me - I hope that, one day, I'll be able to visit for myself and understand the real context of everything I've been blogging about.
Summary of the themes
To summarise my virtual learning journey to the Solomon Islands, I started with a bit of history and the first European contact with the islands, during the period of Spanish exploration in the 16th century. I also learned about the shameful 19th century tradition of blackbirding (kidnapping of Pacific islanders to work on plantations in Queensland) and the fascinating story of Jack Renton.
August saw the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Tatarstan and I took this opportunity to learn about different swimming styles and the contribution made by the Solomon Islands to the Solomons/Australian crawl!
|Solomon Islands Fish and chips|
I couldn't really find a national dish from the Solomon Islands that wasn't essentially palu sami (which I've made several times before), so I created my own dish, Pacific-style fish and chips, using ingredients that would be more common in the Solomon Islands.
As usual, I did all of this with a fabulous soundtrack and I managed to find lots of great music from the Solomon Islands, including the lullaby Rorogwela which was sampled by Deep Forest in the early 1990's.
I read four books as part of my research into the Solomon islands - here's the list:
|Devil-Devil by GW Kent|
Solomon Time (2002) by Will Randall is one of the few travelogues based in the Solomon Islands. The story of an English school teacher who gives up his life in the UK, to set up a chicken farm in Rendova, it was an amusing read, but I can't say I learnt a lot from this book.
Devil-Devil (2011) by G.W. Kent - unfortunately, I didn't find time to blog about this wonderful book by GW Kent. It's a detective novel set in Malaita and Honiara and I really enjoyed reading it, although I don't usually read that genre. I loved the characters and I learnt a lot about Solomon culture as well - I'd highly recommend this series of novels!
The White Headhunter (2003) by Nigel Randell - a really informative and 'heavy' read, which I used for my blog post about blackbirding and Jack Renton.
I watched three movies in total, that were somehow connected to the Solomon Islands:
The Thin Red Line (1998) dir. Terrance Malick - see the link to my blog post on this above.
Operation Pacific (1951) dir. George Waggner and starring John Wayne and Patricia Neal - this was a more traditional war movie and, as it turns out, was set more around the Philippines than the Solomon Islands. It was interesting to compare the approach to war movies in the 1950's, when everything was so romanticised and the late 90's, when the real horror of war was more in focus. It's not a bad movie, as they go and very typical of that era.
Tanna (2015) dir. Bentley Dean and Martin Butler - the London Film festival is on at the moment and I've always intended to go to a showing, but somehow managed to miss this in previous years. Unfortunately, they didn't have any movies from the Solomon Islands on the programme this year, but they did have this wonderful movie from neighbouring Vanuatu, so I decided to watch it as part of my research into the Pacific region. It's set on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu and a representative of the community in which the movie is shot came all the way to London to talk to us about his culture and traditions. It was a truly memorable experience and it's a really beautiful movie.
I'm going to try to make a visit to the London Film festival an annual outing that coincides with whichever place I'm blogging about in future (or as close as I can get, culturally).
As usual there were many other themes that I didn't have time to blog about, but if you're interested in continuing a learning journey about the Solomon Islands, I would suggest the following additional themes:
Missionaries in the Pacific
The Malaita Massacre
The shark callers of the Pacific
The Lau people
DBS - Distressed British Subjects
The Chinese in the Pacific
Te lapa - navigating with underwater lightening strikes
The Marching Rule movement
The Kakamoras or pygmy people
Nguzunguzu - traditional carvings on war canoes
Richard Francis Burton - the British adventurer and orientalist
Evil spirits like the basana
JF Kennedy's time in the Solomon Islands