Bungee jumping’s roots
Vanuatu's Indigenous groups fight for recognition of bungee jumping's roots
Posted on 13.01.2020
Every year, as Vanuatu’s wild monsoon season comes to an end, Chief Luke Fargo instructs the boys of his village to build a 30-metre tower using branches cut from a nearby forest.When the structure stretches to the sky, the boys prepare for the next stage — to jump from the highest platform, with only a vine wrapped around their ankles to catch their fall.
In some videos capturing the stomach-turning leap, you can hear the land diver scrape the ground.
The 69-year-old chief, who has performed the ritual himself many times, invites people from around the world to watch these land diving ceremonies, called Nagol, from his home on the southern tip of Pentecost Island.
But he was saddened when he found out the event had inspired the creation of bungee jumping, a global sport he believes was stolen from his people.
“We were shocked because they told us they made a lot of money out of that,” Mr Fargo said.
“I would like to send a message to all the people who use the bungee jump, [that it] was taken from the Pentecost regional land dive.”
Mr Fargo says he and other Indigenous chiefs from Vanuatu have called for compensation from bungee jump operators to be funnelled into their communities — but they’re pessimistic about actually receiving royalties.
“I think if they pay a small [amount of] money to us on the island, it would be better”
- Indigenous groups in Vanuatu want compensation from bungee operators
- Nagol land diving has been practised for centuries as a celebration of yam harvest
- Bungee jumping only became popular in the West in the 1980s
Have a story to tell or news to share?
Let us know by Submitting a News Story