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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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this is what i have always wondered too? how can we be identified? usually from the responses that i would always get from others is that i am a kiribati, whereas im only part..am a BANABAN! it really is sad but we still get to know where we came from...Banaba.
the need to be unique is good, but from what i know is that each and every banaban here in Fiji and abroad..hold that banaban spirit within them..and would always like to be called a Banaban for a change..and that is what makes us unique too. To always remember and hold our ancestors legacies with us and not in vain..in maintaining our identity for future generations, through awareness and storytelling..to our younger generation.
From our past we learn the present (history). Without the past we are nothing. Pride in our culture and traditions must be instilled within the younge generations to know the whole story from where they originated on..and with luck we can always hope for the best for our future generations with God's willing purpose.
hey uncle Ken...this is not about the identity but im really curious on the Kosrae language
what language do they use??

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
This is a very interesting discussion about Banaban identity. My question I'd like to post is, given that we Banaban do believe that we had our own Banaban language, does it mean that our Banabans' indigenous forefathers that gave the name of the island, Banaba?? Please let me know.
That is a very interesting question, unfortunately I'm at loss in trying to answer it. Hopefully those who have contributed so far could help in answering your question.


Butin Ioteari said:
This is a very interesting discussion about Banaban identity. My question I'd like to post is, given that we Banaban do believe that we had our own Banaban language, does it mean that our Banabans' indigenous forefathers that gave the name of the island, Banaba?? Please let me know.
Mauri Butin,

Of course I can understand the frustration our young Banabans have gone through to keep their Banaban heritage intact in many ways and one of them is the very question you have raised on this page if Banaba was a name given by our anscestors.

Here I can see that you are trying to link the word Banaba with our original language which we believe we have lost through eons. This is might be the case but I doubt it even if the name Banaba comes from somewhere else for as far as I know our late Elders used to say that the name Banaba was established by our Banaban Anscestors and not from outside Banaba.

Butin, what is important here is the fact that other countries too have adoted names with foreign origins. A good example is the island state of Kiribati itself, as tradition says that Tungaru is the original name which they replaced with Kiribati a name of an English sea Captain Mr.Gilbert who first discovered Tungaru as known then in the early years. Till today they are entittled to the name Kiribati to be their original and that nobody can falter them, it is their right by doing so.

So if none can falter the Tungaruans in changing their country name to Kiribati then likewise none can falter us by claimming Banaba as our original naming.

So, bottom line country names does not always have the original namings... most of them are adopted names from different backgrounds.

Well Butin, I hope this might help abit but also hope others will contribute.

Take care.
ken



Butin Ioteari said:
This is a very interesting discussion about Banaban identity. My question I'd like to post is, given that we Banaban do believe that we had our own Banaban language, does it mean that our Banabans' indigenous forefathers that gave the name of the island, Banaba?? Please let me know.
Adding to Ken’s explanation let me ask who named Australia - Australia? The indigenous Aborigines’ of Australia had no indigenous name for their own country although they have different Aboriginal languages there that existed thousands of years before Europeans first saw this beautiful southern continent and, probably about 40,000 years before the indigenous inhabitants of PNG settled PNG. Not even one Aboriginal race in Australia gave a name to Australia, not sure if there are myths to refer to an indigenous name, why? Most probably they don’t bother, as long as they are the original inhabitants and it’s their own country. The name Australia, if I can recall correctly from my High School days, is not English but Latin for “an unknown land of the south” (Terra Australis Incognita).
Similarly, France as is known today used to be known as Gaul. Why and for what reason? There are reasons of-cause that the French people know and owned as their history.
Kiribati as mentioned already by Ken was originally Tungaru, meaning in the Tungaruan vocabulary, a group of 18 islands, much like Tuvalu, meaning a group of 8 islands. With the recent inclusion of another island known as Niulakita in the south the name Tuvalu should by right be change or modified to mean 9 islands, but this has not. Why? Matter of fact, it is none of our business. Now, why did the Kiribati people opted to do away with their indigenous name Tungaru at their independence? Simply because there is a limitation to it – only 18 islands, but look at her now under the adopted name Kiribati, close to 100 islands. Their population is still growing rapidly and I guess if there are still tiny un-inhabited and insignificant islands in the Pacific Ocean somewhere the Australians, NZealanders and probably British will register them under Kiribati also to help relieve population pressure. Wonder why not take them to Aotiteria or Nutiran with all that vast vacant spaces instead of dumping them in the Solomons, tiny Phoenix atolls and the Line atolls...they will soon become overcrowded like the original Tungaru.
Nauru on the other hand was traditionally known as Anaoero (pronounced by us as Nawaro). So, inasmuch as the Tungaru people like to refer to Nauru as Abaoraora (aba-oraora) because it is mentioned in their legends and myths that it was a land of raw-eaters (because they don’t know how to cook) the Anaoeroans or Nauruans will never agree to that, that their country was originally known as Abaoraora.
And so, who has bothered anyway when the Fijians call France - Varanise, or Australia - Osoterelia and Sydney - Serene? Likewise our elders said our ancestors named our island Banaba or Nabanaba or Na-Banaba for their own reasons and that’s what we know it as it is. Or maybe, just maybe, our ancestors did had a name for it in their indigenous language but “others” preferred to refer to it as Banaba (ba-naba, i.e., only rock as the word stands to mean in the Kiribati language) and therefore become more commonly known as thus, not calling but rather referring to a “rock island”. There is a possibility as those were ancient days in the Pacific islands and the tradition of references to things or objects of nature was and still is a common feature in Pacific cultures including naming of children/people. So whether the name is original Banaban language or Kiribatian/Tungaruan or Nauruan, who bothers, the important thing is that our ancestors called it that or implied to it as that.
Now, having mentioned the word “implied” let’s look at another name we Banabans are all familiar with (hopefully) or should be familiar with on Banaba – Te Aonoanne. How did this name came about? The area that that name applied to used to be largely known as Te Aka area/vicinity prior to the settlement of the Banaban coastal dwellers or more precisely prior to the formation of Tabiang village/district. Historically there used to be only Te Aka, then much later on Te Aka and Tabwewa and then later on these other names, including Te Aonoanne. In the mid 1900s (1930s if I am not mistaken) Te Aonoanne combined with Toakira became known as Buakonikai district. As I was told by my elders the name Te Aonoanne was actually a Tungaruan phrase referring to some place or more precisely “that place...” so, it is an inference (remember that few people from Tungaruan came to settle on Banaba as part of the small fleet known as Te Wa mai Beru). The phrase was actually used to refer to Te Aka and its’ vicinity. Why? Te Aka was a most feared place on Banaba in those pre-Christian days. So feared that even the people of those days would not even mentioned the name Te Aka for fear of being “raaka” and therefore referred to it as “that place” or in the Tungaru language “te-aono-anne”. What was so scary or frightful about Te Aka that this inference name came into being? Mind you, Te Aka was really a scary place in those days even during Rev Hiram Bingham’s time (the book, The Disconcerting Issue contained some quotes of Rev Bingham’s comments on Te Aka). The cultural/traditional fact as regards this was an interesting one but our elders have shut their mouths about it many years ago never to speak about it again, and so I am at no liberty to talk about it now. So, let us just be content that our elders said that our ancestors named Banaba as Banaba or inferred to it as Banaba.
God bless the Banabans.


Ken Sigrah said:
Mauri Butin,

Of course I can understand the frustration our young Banabans have gone through to keep their Banaban heritage intact in many ways and one of them is the very question you have raised on this page if Banaba was a name given by our anscestors.

Here I can see that you are trying to link the word Banaba with our original language which we believe we have lost through eons. This is might be the case but I doubt it even if the name Banaba comes from somewhere else for as far as I know our late Elders used to say that the name Banaba was established by our Banaban Anscestors and not from outside Banaba.

Butin, what is important here is the fact that other countries too have adoted names with foreign origins. A good example is the island state of Kiribati itself, as tradition says that Tungaru is the original name which they replaced with Kiribati a name of an English sea Captain Mr.Gilbert who first discovered Tungaru as known then in the early years. Till today they are entittled to the name Kiribati to be their original and that nobody can falter them, it is their right by doing so.

So if none can falter the Tungaruans in changing their country name to Kiribati then likewise none can falter us by claimming Banaba as our original naming.

So, bottom line country names does not always have the original namings... most of them are adopted names from different backgrounds.

Well Butin, I hope this might help abit but also hope others will contribute.

Take care.
ken



Butin Ioteari said:
This is a very interesting discussion about Banaban identity. My question I'd like to post is, given that we Banaban do believe that we had our own Banaban language, does it mean that our Banabans' indigenous forefathers that gave the name of the island, Banaba?? Please let me know.
To know if you are Banaban is to first know your ancestry line or Te riki it does not matter either paternal or maternal you have to dig in first to find your roots and this is and issue that is under dispute at the moment and regarding other matters like language is beyond any so called Banaban cause factors beyond our powers is at work like for eg. Migration of other races in to our shores here on Banaba,WW2,mixed marriges.We all know like u do to that there was and still some rudiments of our so called language still in exisistence. And thus knowing your roots will clarify your existence and identity.WE are the only race on this earth that cherish and uphold female values in which the female takes her mate to her kainga why because they are life providers in regards to water provision and u have to be in Banaba to feel Banaban like i do. regards.
thank you Itinteang for bringing up this sensitive issue. you posed the question on how does one identify another as a Banaban? or in going further how does one identify us immediately as Banabans? identity i would say goes with 'roots'..roots, practises and values are some elements of our identity as Banabans. Physical appearance would immediately identify us as Banabans. We are micronesians easily distinguishable from melanesians, hispanics, polynesians, orientals, etc. Apart from the language we seem to have lost, our common practises and values could only evolve over a long period of time in a particular environment. What I am saying is, a Banaban is one who has Banaban roots or descendants of those living in Banaba before the discovery of phosphate...


Cindy Flood said:
thank you Itinteang for bringing up this sensitive issue. you posed the question on how does one identify another as a Banaban? or in going further how does one identify us immediately as Banabans? identity i would say goes with 'roots'..roots, practises and values are some elements of our identity as Banabans. Physical appearance would immediately identify us as Banabans. We are micronesians easily distinguishable from melanesians, hispanics, polynesians, orientals, etc. Apart from the language we seem to have lost, our common practises and values could only evolve over a long period of time in a particular environment. What I am saying is, a Banaban is one who has Banaban roots or descendants of those living in Banaba before the discovery of phosphate...
Thank u Cindy for clarifying the point of going back to your roots.Why are we Banabans questioning our identity is because most of us at present tiaaki ata rikira which thus distinguish u as a Banaban.Tiaki ata ara Kainga ao tiaki atai ti bangara ibukin ara kawa man rikira.Thats the root of the problem like for Tabwewa iai te Karieta ao te Karia only in this village is this practised and each Kainga or Clan know their responsibilities but not any more why the RCL has forbiden it cause there are some group of people who at logger heads with there own riki wantin more so the problem does not lie with the I-Kiribati they know rikia and there responsibilities in the Maneaba as for us Banabans its dying away with our elders thats why the question of identity alway arises.The solution and problem ls within and not without so to us Banabans everywhere lets clean house first and stop pointing fingers at others to solve these problems of our own which we ourselves help to create.Than we can proudly say that we are Banabans by practicing whatour fore fathers did not so long ago so be united and be proud that you are Banaban. GOD BLESS

Patrick....

 

This is a very good point....a cultural identity that distinguishes a Banaban from I-Kiribati!  Women, She, Female, Ladies, Mothers, Unaine....and all of the above that refers to women gender does make a difference beetween our cultures. 

 

The Banaban legends have connected us to the Naoero (Nauruans) as blood brothers and sisters.  If legends are myths and are meaningless, then why is it that we share the same culture (matriarchal)?  Fortunately, for the Nauruans, they were not colonised by the British or they will also be sailing the same boat as us!

 

While Gender is a global issue...I am proud of being a Banaban who understands the value of women even before this became an international lobbying madness!

 

Banabans....stay strong and be proud of who you are!!!



Patrick Nabong said:

To know if you are Banaban is to first know your ancestry line or Te riki it does not matter either paternal or maternal you have to dig in first to find your roots and this is and issue that is under dispute at the moment and regarding other matters like language is beyond any so called Banaban cause factors beyond our powers is at work like for eg. Migration of other races in to our shores here on Banaba,WW2,mixed marriges.We all know like u do to that there was and still some rudiments of our so called language still in exisistence. And thus knowing your roots will clarify your existence and identity.WE are the only race on this earth that cherish and uphold female values in which the female takes her mate to her kainga why because they are life providers in regards to water provision and u have to be in Banaba to feel Banaban like i do. regards.

Mauri Itinteang

 

You said "My personal belief is that there are no more pure Banabans alive, so to speak. I could be wrong." The good news is that we do have a few pure Banabans alive.  My aunt, Nei Buka Teem Maata, from Tabiang village is one.  Isn't that wonderful? I wish that she could live forever - "a pure Banaban". She does not have any cultural affiliations whatsoever with any other race! It would be interesting to collect the names of the surviving pure Banabans alive today.

 

Anyway, from my observation and interaction with Nei Buka...I found that she never NEVER never refer to herself as I-Kiribati. She is Banaban fullstop! She does not hate I-Kiribati but is embarrassed to be called one because she is not I-Kiribati.  Kiribati affiliation is a political and something she inherited from the colonisers. It has nothing to do with her identity.

 

Over the years, I've also observed some very strong characteristics of pure Banabans: they are passive, accepting, agreeable, tolerant, satisfied, patient, kind, even-tempered, easy going and many more.  I used to wonder why they are so kind and so loving!  I was brought up with this aunt, thus my love for pure Banabans. I wish all of us could learn these values and continue to share the  Banaban values to our children and children's children.

 

Enjoy your Christmas and New Year Itinteang.

Discover your Banaban identity but don't deny your I-Kiribati identity....because it also runs in your blood veins! Learn to respect what you become now.....Appreciate and cherish both of them.....without them we are nothing!

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