Vanuatu Magic Stone: "Scabby Skin or Nakan Kem"

By the sea near the clear blue waters of Lénakel lived a man. Not many people visited him as he looked ugly and dirty and his skin was covered with scabies. Even his house was in permanent disorder. He lived alone as no woman would marry him because of how he looked like. 

One day he went to “imwaim”, the customary nakamal and meeting-place and talked to the chief to find him a woman. The chief has sendnaramim la suatu”, the messengers up to Lownapkamai to find one. A man from the village eventually appeared with his several daughters, but none of them would consent to marry the ugly man. At the end, the youngest of them told her father, she would agree to marry him.  The custom (kastom) was done, a pig was killed and kava was drunk and the young woman went down to Lénakel to live with her unsightly husband. 

After several months, there was a “nowanarui”, a traditional night dance organized in one of the villages up in the hills. The man went there, but before leaving, he would go and swim in the sea. There was a hole in the reef under the water and he would dive and swim through the hole. Suddenly his dirty and scabby skin would slip of him and sink to the seabed. The man appeared on the other side of the hole as a whole new person. His skin was healthy and his face handsome. His wife was astonished and so happy. 

The evening came and they both went dancing. All the people of the village were surprised about the change in the man’s appearance and all women were very jealous, especially the elder sisters of his wife. As the dance stopped in the morning, the couple returned to the sea. The man dived through the stone hole, grabbed his old skin and became as he was before. So it went for several times and every time he and his wife would appear, both of them young beautiful, in the dancing place. This made his wife’s sisters grew more and more jealous. 

Finally, they decided to come down to the house, where the couple lived. They have found that the man went fishing and his wife was alone. Seized by anger and jealousy, they grabbed their poor young sister and dragged her to the reef to drown her in the sea. Just as they have finished the horrible deed, her husband appeared. He swam through the rock hole and in the bright sunlight he seemed to the sisters even more handsome than ever. He looked at them and saw the body of his murdered wife. The only thing he said was: “She has chosen me when none of you would, because of my skin. It is with her that I shall stay.” Then he threw himself to the raging waves by the reef and died instantly. The only thing that has left was his scabby skin on the seabed that turned into a stone. The name of the stone is “nakan kem“. Credits to Mr. Long Wires

Larkin,a community leader and dear friend, me and Dominik our trusty Bislama translator checking out the magic stone in the middle of the day on my birthday!


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