108296 Osa Johnson with Seven of Chief Nihipat's wives, Malekula, Vanuatu in 1919
The success of the Johnsons’ first film, “Among the Cannibal Isles of the South Seas,” made possible a second and better equipped film expedition to the South Pacific in 1919.
In April, they left San Francisco for the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu). Returning to Vao, they organized an expedition and set sail for Tenmaru Bay on the island of Malekula with the intention of again filming the Big Nambas. After a successful visit, Martin and Osa left Chief Nihipat and his part of Malakula to photograph and film other tribes of the island.
This image shows Osa with seven of Chief Nihipat's wives. During 100th anniversary commemorative events in 2019 held in Vanuatu, Safari Museum staff met many of Chief Nihipat's grandchildren. They revealed that by the time of his death, Chief Nihipat had over fifty wives from all over Malekula. Chief Nihipat was focused on uniting the peoples of Malekula to fight off colonialism intrusion by both the British and the French.
Off the south coast of Malekula they visited the island of Toman where the heads of children were elongated through the use of tight bindings. From Toman they visited the island of Espiritu Santo before returning to Sydney, Australia, with 25,000 feet of film and 1,000 photographs.
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