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Kam Na Mauri
I have been reading some of the discussions posted on this site and I came across the phrase "Banaban Identity". To set the record straight I would like to say that my father is I-Kiribati meaning he has no Banaban ancestry. Since my mother has Banaban blood I see myself as more of a Banaban than I-Kiribati maybe because I grew up on Rabi. But that does not mean that I do not acknowledge my father's side. My personal belief is that there are no more pure Banabans alive, so to speak. I could be wrong.
The question that I wanted to ask is how does someone identify a Banaban? We do not have a language that we can proudly call our own to differntiate us from the I-Kiribati. I mean can we indentify a Banaban just by looking at him/her and by the language that they speak? We say "te taetae n Rabi" but our I-Kiribati brothers say "te taetae n Kiribati". I know that only Banabans perform "te karanga" and play "te karemotu" and "te katua", but are these the only things that are unique to us? Does this mean that we have to perform all of these just to let people know who we are?
I certainly hope that there are other things apart from the ones that I have mentioned which can immediately identify us as Banabans.

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Mauri Greg,

Talking about 'setting the record straight' I think it is a fact for all Banabans now walking this Earth. My late Mum was part Onotoa (related to your late Dad) and my late Dad was part Kosrae and Butaritari too. I believe that all Banabans now have got shared blood running their veins not only through Kiribati link but through other nationalities too, so we should be comfortable as we are.

Of course you are so true too that we cannot deny any part of our heritage because it is in our gene it was the way Nature meant it to be and no one can change that but God, but it is very important too to know that every mix blood in our veins came from different anscestry and therefore different cultures. We should all know when and where do we fit in. It would be wrong to apply Banaban culture in a Kiribati ceremony ( and vise versa) even though Iam the descendant of both, for one simple reason and that is Kiribati culture is different from Banaban culture. If we don't do the right thing according to a certain culture then te 'Kamatauninga' attitude is applied, and that is what our Elders always go on about.

Now the main question. Of course we Banabans have our own language and it is common knowledge that ours was 'swamped' by the Kiribati vocab when Mr. Bingham compiled an English -Gilbertese dictionary in 1908, eight years after Banaba was annexed under the Gilbert and Ellice Colony then by Britain. Bingham worked for the American Board of Societies (Te Baba n Amerika). The same dictionary and vocab was used by the Kiribati missionaries to convert our (so called pagan) Forefathers and the final execution to our language happened when our people believed in the Bible (written in Gilbertese) as the word of God so they should learn and speak Gilbertese to understand God's words or otherwise they will burn in fire of Hell. When the IKiribati labour force (100s of them) arrived to work for BPC on Banaba what common language would be used on Banaba then? Yes, here I can say that the Mission had done a good job to influence the Banabans ( in the name of God) to speak a foreign language which makes it more easier for the natives (Banabans) and the invaders to converse better.

A good example is the Bible that the Samoans and Tuvaluans are using, fortunately they stayed as seperate nations. I wonder what would happen if one of these Island nations got phosphate on their land they just might end up like us, defending their heritage.

Now as for our Identity, there is nothing to justify to that because our Identity is well documented in the Banaban Settlement Act in Fiji Law and also well documented in Chapter 9 of the Kribati Constitution of Laws where it says:-
Chapter ix - Banaba and the Banabans.
125. In this Chapter- (a) "BANABAN" and "BANABANS" means the FORMER INDIGENOUS INHABITANTS OF BANABA and such other persons one of whose ancestor was born in Kiribati before 1900 as may now or hereafter be accepted as member of the Banaban community in accordance with custom.

Of course we still have our Katua and Karemotu games plus our Karanga but to top it up we are Legally registered by Law that we have our own Banaban Identity.

Greg, I think I've said what I thought might give you as a bit of help.


Teke raoi te waaki ao tia boo moa.
ken.
Thank you so much for sharing your views with me. It certainly helped me a lot. I now know that there is a Banaban language (note that I am using "is" instead of "was") and that our identity is fully entrenched in the Kiribati constitution and the Banaban Settlement Act which is recognised by the Fiji Government. Another important thing that I now know is that we are related - the truth is I did not know. What is our relationship - ngke ai raau?
E rabwa.
Greg,

It's me again. Just to clarify the last part of 'Banaban identity' chapter 9 Kiribati constitution which says:-

(a)........'and such other persons one of whose anscestors was born in Kiribati before 1900 as may now or hereafter be accepted as members of the Banaban community in accordance with custom'.

This part was meant for our IKiribati friends and relatives who came to Rabi with our Grandparents in 1945. This is to safeguard their citizenship as Banabans living now in Fiji. I hope this will clarify the 'clause' more.

No foreigner can be a Banaban unless " be accepted as members of the Banaban community in accordance with custom", meaning Banaban way of ADOPTION, (this is where Banaban culture and custom rules).

Teke raoi. ken
Just to add on...We have so many things in common...but then if we studied the costumes that Banaban and the I-Kirbati wear there is a slight difference and also the moves or how the dances manuver around.In my opinion,the Banaban dancer are very active and fast whereas the I-Kiribati dancer stands still except the hand movements and is quite slow. A few of my friends comment that the Banaban dance is the new version of the Kiribati dance but then I told them they are wrong cause in the lyrics of a dance Banabans used old kind of language that I-Kiribati don't know what it meant.
Hi Roba,
Mauri inanon te bong ae moan te raoiroi aei.

Of course we may be like Kiribati in all that we do but that is what we Banabans suppose to believe in (by their way of thinking). They expect us to believe that there is no such thing as Banaban race, language, culture,identity, etc and even dance as you've just mentioned. Let all Banabans be WARNED that we should not be fooled by this stupid attitude of domination. Even though we are outnumbered (as Banabans) by thousands
our Identity and culture stands EQUAL with rest of the world, and that is the reason why I'm so proud being a Banaban among other nationality ties that I have.

Now to the discussion of the day. Your IKiribati friends mentioned that,'Banaban dance is the new version of Kiribati dance'. Roba, now let us pause here a minute and ask ourselves, 'how can someone comment on a culture that he/she is not even part of or knew it's exsistance?' I can talk Banaban, Koasrae and even Kiribati culture because I'm part of all the 3, now are these friends of yours part Banabans too? If the answer is 'NO' then this is where the 'attitude of domination' comes in as I've mentioned above, they are trying to convince you to believe that Banaban Identity don't exsist, thus my warning.

Our Banaban dancing is nothing new to a true Banaban because we know what we are talking about. Banaban cultural dance has been part of Banaban culture since the early times of our Forefathers. The first written record of Banaban dancing ( te Karanga) was in 1910-1913 by Arthur Mahaffy (acting Resident commissioner on Banaba) see 'Te Rii ni Banaba page 86'. Even before the arrival of the Europeans, Te Aka clan had already evolved in their mythes and legends the exsistance of Banaban dance, see 'Te Rii ni Banaba page 53, tittled 'Swaying Tree Dance'. The dance that our young Banaban dancers are dancing now is a more modern version of Banaban dance created by Tawaka Tekenimatang (Banaban composer and choreographer) in the early 1950s on Rabi when he first formed a dancing group called 'Nei Katanoata' today renamed 'Banaban Dancing Group'. How do I know? Well I was member of the Banaban Dancing Group from 1971-1976, five years of Banaban cultural dance experience. Today, on Rabi this Banaban cultural dance is already part of Primary schools and High school cultural subject.

You are very true too when you mentioned Kiribati dance as being stiff and slow but now they are dancing almost like us, fast and active so if you look at my above comment I think you can see who owns the 'copyright' and who is the 'copycat'. They will copy all from us and then claim that it is their creation, a very good symptom of again wanting to 'dominate the lesser'. But don't worry for maybe we are not worriors but we are SURVIVERS, we will always survive no matter what as long as we uphold the TRUTH.

I think it is proper too to ask people who want to discuss anything Banaban if they have link to those issues or otherwise we might as well talk to a 'brick wall' meanning,' they will always deny Banaban Identity, whereas we will always uphold it. Don't forget that anything that is part of our culture ( like dancing) is also part of our Identity. Some people (nonBanabans) will create issues for us but again I say 'Don't be bothered'as our claims to our Identity (culture and customs) are well documented in 'Te Rii ni Banaba' history book, in the 'Banaban Settlement Act' under Fiji Laws in Fiji and in the 'Kiribati Constitution chapter 9' in the 'Kiribati Auti Ni Maungatabu' ( Kiribati House of Parliment) Tarawa.

Roba I think I better stop here or your computer will have a hard time downloading my facts and comments but you select the next dicussion and you and I will have fun in sorting it out. kee?

Regards to all at home.

Tia boo moa ao teke raoi.
ken
Sorry to correct you Ken... but relating to Arthur Mahaffy describing the uniquely Banaban dance te Karanga that he had seen nowhere else in his Pacific travels.... being between 1910-1913.

In fact these were the dates his report was published and he actually saw the te Karanga preformed back in the late 1800's while he was working on one of the whaling ships that visited Banaba. This was well before the arrival of the discovery of phosphate in 1900. I think it was even before the Missionaries arrived. He wrote quite a lot of detail about the te Karanga in his report and it is well worth reading.

For those interested I have a scanned copy of it. If you would like to get a copy email me at: admin@banaban.com

Regards Stacey
Greg said:
Thank you so much for sharing your views with me. It certainly helped me a lot. I now know that there is a Banaban language (note that I am using "is" instead of "was") and that our identity is fully entrenched in the Kiribati constitution and the Banaban Settlement Act which is recognised by the Fiji Government. Another important thing that I now know is that we are related - the truth is I did not know. What is our relationship - ngke ai raau?
E rabwa.
Hi Ken,
Mauri!!Its been awhile now since I posted my views and idea about Identity.I am very grateful for that information and details about our culture esp our cultural dance...I totally agree with you,on the issue where IKiribati (mostly the ones at the USP),are modernising their dancing motions.I've seen it on "youtube" their dance during their cultural events. E ang a bon kawangaia n aia debate ma ngaira are tia ataa raoi riki te koaua iaon anne and the evidence is documented in you and your wifes book'Te Rii ni Banaba..." E rangini raraba naaba te boki which I still have a copy here with me bwa e kamatata raoi taian confusion ma controversies.Tekeraoi n ami waaki nako ao riki tei buobuoki ae bati ni kaotaia te nati n Banaba. You are a great teacher!
Ken Sigrah said:
Hi Roba,
Mauri inanon te bong ae moan te raoiroi aei.

Of course we may be like Kiribati in all that we do but that is what we Banabans suppose to believe in (by their way of thinking). They expect us to believe that there is no such thing as Banaban race, language, culture,identity, etc and even dance as you've just mentioned. Let all Banabans be WARNED that we should not be fooled by this stupid attitude of domination. Even though we are outnumbered (as Banabans) by thousands
our Identity and culture stands EQUAL with rest of the world, and that is the reason why I'm so proud being a Banaban among other nationality ties that I have.

Now to the discussion of the day. Your IKiribati friends mentioned that,'Banaban dance is the new version of Kiribati dance'. Roba, now let us pause here a minute and ask ourselves, 'how can someone comment on a culture that he/she is not even part of or knew it's exsistance?' I can talk Banaban, Koasrae and even Kiribati culture because I'm part of all the 3, now are these friends of yours part Banabans too? If the answer is 'NO' then this is where the 'attitude of domination' comes in as I've mentioned above, they are trying to convince you to believe that Banaban Identity don't exsist, thus my warning.

Our Banaban dancing is nothing new to a true Banaban because we know what we are talking about. Banaban cultural dance has been part of Banaban culture since the early times of our Forefathers. The first written record of Banaban dancing ( te Karanga) was in 1910-1913 by Arthur Mahaffy (acting Resident commissioner on Banaba) see 'Te Rii ni Banaba page 86'. Even before the arrival of the Europeans, Te Aka clan had already evolved in their mythes and legends the exsistance of Banaban dance, see 'Te Rii ni Banaba page 53, tittled 'Swaying Tree Dance'. The dance that our young Banaban dancers are dancing now is a more modern version of Banaban dance created by Tawaka Tekenimatang (Banaban composer and choreographer) in the early 1950s on Rabi when he first formed a dancing group called 'Nei Katanoata' today renamed 'Banaban Dancing Group'. How do I know? Well I was member of the Banaban Dancing Group from 1971-1976, five years of Banaban cultural dance experience. Today, on Rabi this Banaban cultural dance is already part of Primary schools and High school cultural subject.

You are very true too when you mentioned Kiribati dance as being stiff and slow but now they are dancing almost like us, fast and active so if you look at my above comment I think you can see who owns the 'copyright' and who is the 'copycat'. They will copy all from us and then claim that it is their creation, a very good symptom of again wanting to 'dominate the lesser'. But don't worry for maybe we are not worriors but we are SURVIVERS, we will always survive no matter what as long as we uphold the TRUTH.

I think it is proper too to ask people who want to discuss anything Banaban if they have link to those issues or otherwise we might as well talk to a 'brick wall' meanning,' they will always deny Banaban Identity, whereas we will always uphold it. Don't forget that anything that is part of our culture ( like dancing) is also part of our Identity. Some people (nonBanabans) will create issues for us but again I say 'Don't be bothered'as our claims to our Identity (culture and customs) are well documented in 'Te Rii ni Banaba' history book, in the 'Banaban Settlement Act' under Fiji Laws in Fiji and in the 'Kiribati Constitution chapter 9' in the 'Kiribati Auti Ni Maungatabu' ( Kiribati House of Parliment) Tarawa.

Roba I think I better stop here or your computer will have a hard time downloading my facts and comments but you select the next dicussion and you and I will have fun in sorting it out. kee?

Regards to all at home.

Tia boo moa ao teke raoi.
ken
Ko na mauri Ken,

I totally agree with you. I read 'Te Rii ni Banaba' and hope that all Banabans have a copy in their home.

I was thinking that to answer those who still deny what you have said about our unique BANABAN identity(culture and customs), dance and language is to look first at God's creation.

Why did God create Banaba and Kiribati differently? Simply, one High and one flat?

I do believe in the restoration of Banaba as in the restoration of Israel in these last days. Hitler wanted to wipe out the jews from the face of the earth and create a super race but failed.

I am a proud Banaban and I-Kiribati from Nikunau and Arorae. I am very disappointed and mad when people try to take away my Banaban identity.

Ko raba n am boki.
One thing we should be fully aware of is that the Kiribati nation is a creation of contemporary development - a by product of Colonialism which I am sure you agree that the Banaban situation is also a by product of that. Before the notion of a Kiribati nation - there was Island identity i.e. Onotoans, Beruans, Tarawans etc no Kiribati and each Island was seeking dominance over the other islands - refer to their legends and myths. The classic example is Abemama - which under Binokas rule was able to annex Kuria and Aranuka, 2 nearby Islands.
Auriaria came and according to legend there were people already living on Banaba - darker in complexion and have a language. Auriaria raira Banaba - literal meaning change the customs/culture and posiibly to some extent language i.e. enforce his own customs/culture/language, dominate those people and then left Banaba travelled to Tarawa, Onotoa etc and also influenced the culture/customs/languages of those people. Maybe he was the first to create a link between these Islands. This is the same case to the Beruans - Te Matawarebwe came and aslo enforced his customs/culture to the people already living on Beru before his arrival. His descendants travelled to nearby Islands and to some extent enforced similar changes hence the similarity in some of the cultures/customs.

The point is before europeans arrive on the scene there were a lot travelling between the Islands hence the similarities which leads to the annexation for easier administratvie purposes ... you extend this
Thanks for sharing your views. As far as I know Banaba was only invaded twice and there was not much travelling done between Banaba and the rest of the Kiribati islands. If you are trying to imply that we Banabans are no different to other Kiribati islands before colonisation than that is where we may differ. I think the only similarities that we have with our Kiribati neighbours are the language that we speak and some cultures that was forced upon us, as you have mentioned. We are not a creation of contemporary development.
What I would like to ask you is what language was spoken by each islands withn the Kiribati group before colonisation? As far as I know we Banabans had a unique language which was "lost" in some ways after the invasion but mostly during the arrival of christianity to the island.
Anyway thanks again for your contribution. Hope to hear more of your views later on.
After reading the blogs about rising sea levels, There is going to be a twist of events into the future and which i think is by the will of God as He is the creator of the whole earth and the Administrator of nature's events which is beyond the control of Man....so the ironic situation is....Banaba our beloved is undergoing rehabilitation which i believe will fully restore our Banaban identity and Banaban flag forever and no more arguments by our neighbour that there is no such terms as Banaban batere, Banaban language, Banaban custom and culture ...etc...as the Bible says 'there is a time for everything....'

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