03/12/2021

John Frum Cargo Cult Leader Isaac Wan dies

The John Frum Cargo Cult leader Chief Isaac Wan died in his home island of Tanna yesterday 6 November 2021.

Late Isaac Wan comes from Sulphur Bay area on the southeastern side of Tanna Island.

Who was Isaac Wan?

Chief Isaac Wan (center), with his assistant (left) and his son Moly, wearing uniforms on John Frum Day. Photp: Max Pinckers

Brooke Jarvis who went to investigate the John Frum movement back in 2019 has documented this story about Isaac Wan.

“Thousands of people arrived from Tanna and elsewhere to follow John Frum, many splitting off from the movement’s previous leader, a man called Chief Isaac Wan, who left to build a new village a short distance away with his remaining followers”, Brooke wrote on topic.com.

“Ever since, even after the new sect dramatically diminished in numbers following Fred’s death in 2011, the two groups have hosted separate gatherings on February 15.”

“People on Tanna informed me that Sulphur Bay’s celebration is the real one; that no, it was certainly the gathering that Isaac Wan led; and also that both groups had departed from the true legacy of John Frum—that a new chapter had been falsely grafted onto an old story, and that “that John is not the real John that we were talking to”, he blogged.

“Isaac’s family told me a version of the John Frum story, one that gave them an original claim to the mythology: before arriving in Green Point, they said, John appeared first as a tiger to Isaac Wan’s father. In a dream, he introduced himself as John Frum”

“The Stars and Stripes, Isaac’s sons explained, were not meant as a symbol of America. The flag stood, instead, for the way John protected kastom, and kastom protected the people of Tanna”, Brooke revealed.

Andrew Procyk also captured Isaac Wan in 2013 where he spoke highly of John Frum as a movement to preserve and protect the custom and culture of Tanna people.

Also Jack Noble spend some time with Chief Isaac Wan trying to understand John Frum in his research about correcting the myth of the movement.

Chief Isaac explained to Jack how there had been a divide in his following.

In 2001, Sulphur Bay was the centre of an ideological rift between himself and a man named Fred Nasse. Nasse, known on Tanna as Prophet Fred, was responsible for taking half the Jon Frum movement and converting them to Christianity.

He correctly predicted that a lake at the foot of Mt Yasur would be swept into the sea after he had spoken with God whilst out fishing.

The breakaway erupted in violence with traditional weapons such as arrows and spears being used between the rival movements.

25 were seriously injured during the bloody encounter and many were evacuated to Port Vila for medical treatment whilst 12 houses and a thatched Presbyterian church were burnt down during a battle that involved 400 islanders. 

This is February 15, John Frum Day, on the island of Tanna in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. On this day, cult followers from all over the island come to the village of Lamakara at Sulfa Bay to march, raise their flags and celebrate. The leader at this time was Mellis who has since died and his son Isaac Wan has inherited the leadership mantle. Source: drkavahed

Followers of Prophet Fred believe that the Jon Frum message is dated and that their rituals do not apply in the modern age.

In the interview footage with Chief Isaac, he explained to Jack that John Frum is not from America and he is a man Tanna but Tom Navy is from American.

“People became disillusioned with Western journalists’ stories”, he said.

Isaac Wan believed there has been an incredible amount of nonsense written about the Cult of Jon Frum over the years by journalists and tourism agents who have been copying off each other and incorporating their own ideas into the story.