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Most children pursue elementary schooling in English or French, although few residents are fluent in either language.Most national discourse takes place in Bislama, which is becoming creolized. The politicians who forged independence emphasized shared culture ( kastom ) and shared Christianity to create a national identity and iconography.After independence, the government erected several public buildings, including a national museum, the House of Parliament, and the House of Custom Chiefs.These buildings incorporate slit gongs and other architectural details that display the cultural heritage.Vanua means "land" in many of Vanuatu's one hundred five languages, and translations of the new name include "Our Land" and "Abiding Land." Culturally, Vanuatu is complex.
Leaders of the Vanua'aku Party, which governed during the nation's first eleven years, came mostly from the central and northern areas.Leadership on some islands depends on advancement within men's societies, and in others it depends on possession of chiefly titles or personal ability.Although most people depend on subsistence farming and fishing, the economy of the seaboard differs from that of interior mountain plateaus.The latter two also model the traditional nakamal (men's house or meeting ground), a ritual space where public discussion and decision making take place.In many cultures, men and occasionally women retire each evening to the nakamal to prepare and drink kava, an infusion of the pepper plant.