Nagriamel called for a focus on the traditional, village-centered way of life for the ni-Vanuatu people, though its messianic leader Jimmy Stevens and his compound in the Fanafo area of upland Espiritu Santo gave it something of a cultish flavor. Nagriamel believed that the New Hebrides was not ready for independence and the modernization it would bring, though the movement was reputedly manipulated by anti-independence French factions and the Phoenix Foundation.
As the independence movement in the New Hebrides gathered momentum after 1975, led by the more Anglo-centric Father Walter Lini and the Vanua'aku Party, the Nagriamel party sought to delay the end of British/French condominium. With backing from the Phoenix Foundation, Nagriamel declared a separate nation on the island of Santo on the eve of Vanuatu's independence in 1980. Vanua'aku Party and Papua New Guinean soldiers quashed Jimmy Stevens' and Nagriamel's short-lived 'Republic of Vemerana' only weeks later. Reprisals against Nagriamel supporters spread throughout the northern islands.
The memory of Nagriamel continues as a somewhat romantic political force mainly in the northern provinces of Vanuatu, and aging supporters of Jimmy Stevens can still been seen in Luganville (Santo) wearing the trademark badge of Nagriamel. Following the 2008 general election, Nagriamel has two Members of Parliament, and is a part of Prime Minister Edward Natapei's government. Its MPs are Havo Moli, Minister for Agriculture, and Ioane Simon Omawa, a backbencher.
The name 'Nagriamel' is a concatenation of the names for two different plants in Vanuatu: the Nangaria and the Namele. The Nangaria is an ornamental with relatives common throughout tropical countries; the colorful wisk broom-shaped leaves are used in chiefly costumes and kastom ceremonies. The Namele is type of small palm whose sturdy fronds have a variety of largely symbolic and ceremonial uses in Vanuatu kastom; on the Vanuatu flag, two crossed namele leaves are shown within the boar's tusk.
As of December 2011, Radio New Zealand International reported that the "president" of Nagriamel (and jointly of the John Frum movement) was Thitam Goiset, a woman of Vietnamese origin and sister of businessman Dinh Van Than, despite the leadership of these movements having been "previously [...] held by high ranking male chiefs".
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