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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 Itinteang and those who had contributed to the very interesting ISSUE!!!
Moan te kakaongora all comments on the issue, and what I understand now is that "Te I-Banaba has a distinct Identity from that of I-Kiribati". Well, as far as the question of "upholding Identity" is concerned may I suggest that an issue as such should be raised as a "motion of separation" by Hon. Teatu Kaibuariki, the Nominated Member from the RCL to the Republic of Kiribati House of Parliament during the up-coming Parliamentary Meeting that will fall on 12 April this year. This will of course resolve any further conflicts between the "copyright" and the "copycat" as mentioned by Ken Sigrah.
We look forward to that motion.
Mauri
As far as I know there was a motion made way back for separation from the Kiribati government and that did not eventuate for reasons known only to the Kiribati government. Maybe Ken could share more light on this. Could you please explain more about yourself coz it will make it easy for me to see where you are coming from when you are explaining your views. The reason that I started this topic is because I wanted to know how we Banabans identify ourselves from other races in the South Pacific and not stir ill feelings within this community i.e Banaban Voice. I have a feeling that you are here just to insult us Banabans and if that is the case than I would kindly request that you do the right thing and leave. Otherwise stick to the topic.

Ruatamaki Tataio said:
Mauri Itinteang and those who had contributed to the very interesting ISSUE!!!
Moan te kakaongora all comments on the issue, and what I understand now is that "Te I-Banaba has a distinct Identity from that of I-Kiribati". Well, as far as the question of "upholding Identity" is concerned may I suggest that an issue as such should be raised as a "motion of separation" by Hon. Teatu Kaibuariki, the Nominated Member from the RCL to the Republic of Kiribati House of Parliament during the up-coming Parliamentary Meeting that will fall on 12 April this year. This will of course resolve any further conflicts between the "copyright" and the "copycat" as mentioned by Ken Sigrah.
We look forward to that motion.
Dearest Friend, Itinteang. You may have misinterpreted my message, however there was no record of such motion, "Banaban Separation!" in the "Journal of the Parliament of Kiribati" ever since Kiribati achieved its Independence on 12 July 1997. I did not say "copyright" and "copycat" but "te I-Banaba" I acknowledge with thanks those saying and I salute all your comment which are not insulting to "te I-Kiribati". God bless Kiribati
Sorry if I may have misinterpreted your message but that was how I saw it. Anyway the separation motion was not made to the Kiribati government but to the Colonial masters. I think that's the reason why you could not find any record in the "Journal of the Parliament of Kiribati". God bless.

Ruatamaki Tataio said:
Dearest Friend, Itinteang. You may have misinterpreted my message, however there was no record of such motion, "Banaban Separation!" in the "Journal of the Parliament of Kiribati" ever since Kiribati achieved its Independence on 12 July 1997. I did not say "copyright" and "copycat" but "te I-Banaba" I acknowledge with thanks those saying and I salute all your comment which are not insulting to "te I-Kiribati". God bless Kiribati
AMEN! to that SIs Christina!!

Kristina Bakaua Ruabete said:
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....'
Please find more details on Banaban’s quest for Independence (Separation from the Gilbert & Ellice Island Colony): This will provide the details on what happened and the timeline as Kiribati was given its Independence and Banaban was denied Independence.

This excerpt is from a paper Ken & I wrote and presented at The Pacific in Australia - Australia in the Pacific conference QUT, Carseldine campus, Brisbane, Australia 24 to 27 January 2006 - The Pacific and Australia - Australia in the Pacific; Humanities research - History:

TITLED: Australia-Banaba Relations; the price of shaping a nation is now a
call for recognition


The legal responsibilities of the British Phosphate Commissioners
By November 1971 with all these major developments with the Nauruans the
discontent of the Banabans came to the fore with the issuing of writs for $120 million
against the United Kingdom Government and the Commissioners. This development
again brought the hold legal status of the Commissioners into question legally as
individuals and collectively dating writing back to the original drafting of the Nauru
Agreement. The British Phosphate Commission had never been an incorporated
body, and therefore the sole legal responsibility for the BPC fell on the
Commissioners as individuals. This reality now impacted on each of the
Commissioners as they tried to consider the best way to deal with the situation. Two
options were considered: one to get the action squashed on the grounds that British
courts lacked jurisdiction over agreements signed on Banaba and the other to claim
‘sovereign immunity’. This latter defence was based on the grounds of ‘diplomatic
immunity’ for Australia and New Zealand arguing that the Banabans writ was against
foreign governments.

By 1972 the Commissioners were divided in how they should proceed. Sir Allen
Brown the Australia Commissioner, and with the full backing of the Australian
Government wanted to pursue all possible forms of defence including trying to get the
actions ‘struck off’. The British position was that the case should be allowed to
proceed. However the major concern of all the Commissioners was the bad publicity
the matter could generate to the detriment of the business dealings of the BPC. The
Australian Government feared that any sign of weakness could affect their position
with the Nauruans and also prompt them to pursue court action. The United Kingdom
and New Zealand Governments were more concerned over the political ramifications
and embarrassment at the United Nations, especially if it appeared that the Banabans
were being denied ‘natural justice’ at the hands of three wealthy nations. It also soon
became very apparent to the Commissioners that the Banabans were being driven by
an absolute quest for justice and that they were prepared to pursue the case to the
bitter end, regardless on any financial gain.

By 1973 other political developments further complicated the situation and created
another precedent when United Kingdom reluctantly agreed to grant independence to
the Ellice Islands in recognition of their nationality within the Colony.4 This move
only added to the resolve of the Banabans to once again try and seek their own
independence via the United Nations. As the court case slowly proceeded forward the
Commissioners were keen to reach an out of court settlement and a figure of $2.5
million was discussed. The Australian and New Zealand Governments had instructed
their Commissioners to ‘settle’ and were willing to pay much more to maintain good
will in the South Pacific region. They were also prepared to let the United Kingdom
4 This would eventually lead to the formal separation of the Ellice Islands from the Colony in 1978
becoming the independent Republic of Tuvalu.

Government go it alone. Australia and New Zealand Governments had received legal
advice that certain ‘disclosures’ could be forthcoming if the case was to proceed and
prove very embarrassing to the partner governments. While the partner governments
and the Commissioners tried to agree amongst themselves on the best way to deal
with the case, the Banabans further extended their fight for sovereignty. In January
1974 they lodged a petition to the British Government for the legal separation of
Banaba from the Gilbert and Ellice Island Colony.

Early in 1975 as formal hearings loomed, the partner governments finally agreed on a
joint attempt for an out of court settlement. This time the negotiating figures had
increased from the original $2.5 million to $4 million with another $1 million kept in
reserve on the proviso that the partner governments would not accept any liability.
While the Commissioners tried to reach an out of court settlement with the Banabans
separately from the partner governments their offer to the Banabans amounted in all to
$1.25 million. The Banabans rejected this offer because the Commissioners were
unable to offer any political concessions which were solely under the control of the
United Kingdom Government and the legal proceedings continued in the courts.
Behind the scenes the everyday running of BPC’s operations on Banaba were also
becoming more difficult. There was a ‘down turn’ in the world demand for fertiliser
and the Commissioners had to borrow heavily on their mounting stockpiles. There
was also growing hostility by Colony officials toward the duty-free BPC trade store
and the growing replacement of expatriate staff by Islanders. The Gilbert Islands was
demanding more control over policy as the Colony moved closer to independence.

The court case hearings were finally completed on June 1976 and on 29 November
Judge Megarry delivered his judgment. The royalty claim against the United Kingdom
Government was dismissed on the grounds that it had acted in accordance with law,
while claims of destroying Banaban cemeteries was dismissed being described as
‘stupidly and offensively false’. The claims relating to over mining of Banaban land
failed because title had not been proved. On the replanting action the judge found
against the BPC but because of the high costs involved in replanting, could not offer a
figure and instructed the Commissioners and Banabans to reach a settlement. Again
the original offer of $1.25 million was offered and again rejected and the parties
returned to the judge. Again with instructions from the judge the Banabans eventually
accepted the offer which would at least cover some of their mounting legal costs.

His summation the judgement the judge pointed out the ‘grave breaches’ of the United
Kingdom Government in the fixing of royalties in 1931 and the failure to provide
advice to the Banabans before the 1947 negotiations. The judge also instructed that in
the case of the Banabans, ‘he could not right what he considered was a wrong and left
it to the Crown to do what it considered to be proper’ (Binder 1978:165). Following
the judge’s direction, the United Kingdom Government dispatched Richard Posnett, a
former colonial governor to investigate the situation. His findings focused on two
main issues, mainly the Banabans continuing claim against the United Kingdom over
lost royalties between 1920 and 1977 and their demand for sovereignty over Banaba.
Over the next two years his efforts to bring about a resolution between all parties was
still unresolved. With the Gilbert Islands opposing Banaban independence and
Posnett aware of the future economic problems looming for the Banabans he made the following recommendation. The some of $7 million of the BPC’s accumulated
surpluses should be used to establish a fund for the development of Rabi. By May
1977 in addition to any settlement reached with the BPC the Banabans would be
offered an ex gratia payment of $10 million subject to no further legal action being
entered into. The Banabans held out from accepting the settlement as they still lobbied
and argued over sovereignty.

With regard to Banaban sovereignty again the British Government ‘washed their
hands’ of the Banabans and added a final ‘nail in the coffin’ by handing over all
responsibility for the decision to the newly formed Council of Ministers which had
been introduced along with the Colony’s new constitution. Unfortunately the Council
believed Banaba was an integral part of the Gilbert Islands and would oppose any talk
of separation or independence for the Banabans ‘either now or in the future’ (Sigrah
and King 2001:18). It was not until October 1978 that the Banabans and Gilbertese
finally began formal discussions over the wind-down of the phosphate industry on
Banaba and the disposal of assets.

The Gilbert Islands was finally granted independence on July 1979 and became the
Republic of Kiribati. Special provisions were made in the newly formed constitution
for the allocation of two Banaban seats in the Kiribati legislature; one representative
from Banaba and the other from Rabi in Fiji, and the return of land previously held by
the BPC, back to the original Banaban landowners.
--------




Itinteang said:
Sorry if I may have misinterpreted your message but that was how I saw it. Anyway the separation motion was not made to the Kiribati government but to the Colonial masters. I think that's the reason why you could not find any record in the "Journal of the Parliament of Kiribati". God bless.

Ruatamaki Tataio said:
Dearest Friend, Itinteang. You may have misinterpreted my message, however there was no record of such motion, "Banaban Separation!" in the "Journal of the Parliament of Kiribati" ever since Kiribati achieved its Independence on 12 July 1997. I did not say "copyright" and "copycat" but "te I-Banaba" I acknowledge with thanks those saying and I salute all your comment which are not insulting to "te I-Kiribati". God bless Kiribati
Mauri christina,
Thank you for your comments and also my apologies for not joinning earlier in this discussions as I have been busy organising and delivering foodstuff to our people on Rabi after TC Tomas. Anyway, as you say once again let TRUTH sort itself out in it's own good time but one thing I can say here is that soon the Banabans will never be the "Forgotten people of the Pacific" anymore. Don't be disappointed but stay true as a Banaban (not degrading your other identities too) and you will be amazed how God will execute his Jugment.

Cheers.
ken

Kristina Bakaua Ruabete said:
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.
Mauri Ruatamaki,

Thanks for your comments and in saying so I would like to clear the air here by saying that the phrase I used "Copyright and Copycat" was directed specifically to the discussion on "cultural Dance" during my conversation with Roba awhile back, but since you have involved the phrase in this topic of Identity I am very glad to let you know that we the Banabans since the days of our Forefathers who are the Indigenous descendants of Te Aka (Banaba) have a unique culture, customs and of course Identity which we inherit to this day, an identity that cannot be a copyright and I believe this applies to the IKiribati also.

Now, by using the word 'copycat' to me it is just a polite way of NOT saying 'Claiming and twisting our custom into something else', especially cultural dance which was the focus of discussion at that time.

Have a nice day and God Bless.
ken









Ruatamaki Tataio said:
Dearest Friend, Itinteang. You may have misinterpreted my message, however there was no record of such motion, "Banaban Separation!" in the "Journal of the Parliament of Kiribati" ever since Kiribati achieved its Independence on 12 July 1997. I did not say "copyright" and "copycat" but "te I-Banaba" I acknowledge with thanks those saying and I salute all your comment which are not insulting to "te I-Kiribati". God bless Kiribati
Hi Albert,
It is interesting to view your point of 'creation of contemporary development'. Well, to be honest with you this concept does not apply to Banaba but maybe it does apply to Australia, N.Zealand, England and Kiribati. My question is, 'since when does Banaba was part of this so called 'contemporary development?'. How come that you are not even aware of Banaba situation? Do you think that destroying Banaba and the uprooting of it's indigenous inhabitants is a very smart way of 'creating contemporary development? One thing that we must not forget is that we the Banabans were not part of the Colonial DyNASTY until as late as 1900 when they found phosphate on our lsland, even at that time we were not even part of the Gilbert (now Kiribati) and Ellis Colony. The truth is we became part of Gilbert and Ellis Colony when Britain ANNEXED Banaba TO BE PART OF the Gilbert and Ellis Colony but NOT PART of Kiribati alone.

Also you mentioned the Kiribati mythes of creation and other folklores but I'm sorry to tell you that we Banabans are not interested at all for a simple reason that we are not part of those mythes and forlklores, sorry. Ours is very different from those.

Anyway thanks for your input and hope you keep in touch.

God bless.
ken.



Albert William Smith said:
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
Mauri Albert William Smith,
I am 100% agree with you, Smith. We totally believe and no one will ever deny the true fact that te I-Onotoa, te I-Tarawa, te I-Abemama and even te I-Banaba is more than 100% I-Kiribati. Te I-Maiana shall never declare that s/he is not a I-Kiribati and its has it own unique/distinct identity. We are real bro and sisters. "Iai iroura ni kabane te rara ni Kiribati, meaning then that we are all I-Kiribati" "Ane e taku bwa tiaki te I-Kiribati ao ke katerea raoi bwa ti na ongora mairouna. Tai anai nanoia tabemang ma tiku ma am koaua ao am eti."It is very wrong to say that"ngai te I-Abemama, I have my own identity???" It is 100% correct to say that "Iam from the island of Abemama but still I have no identification of te I-Abemama. My identification is te I-Kiribati.
I salute your very constructive/factual comment Smith,
Gos bless Kiribati and all its islands like Tabiteuea North and South, Banaba and etc, etc

Ken Sigrah said:
Hi Albert,
It is interesting to view your point of 'creation of contemporary development'. Well, to be honest with you this concept does not apply to Banaba but maybe it does apply to Australia, N.Zealand, England and Kiribati. My question is, 'since when does Banaba was part of this so called 'contemporary development?'. How come that you are not even aware of Banaba situation? Do you think that destroying Banaba and the uprooting of it's indigenous inhabitants is a very smart way of 'creating contemporary development? One thing that we must not forget is that we the Banabans were not part of the Colonial DyNASTY until as late as 1900 when they found phosphate on our lsland, even at that time we were not even part of the Gilbert (now Kiribati) and Ellis Colony. The truth is we became part of Gilbert and Ellis Colony when Britain ANNEXED Banaba TO BE PART OF the Gilbert and Ellis Colony but NOT PART of Kiribati alone.

Also you mentioned the Kiribati mythes of creation and other folklores but I'm sorry to tell you that we Banabans are not interested at all for a simple reason that we are not part of those mythes and forlklores, sorry. Ours is very different from those.

Anyway thanks for your input and hope you keep in touch.

God bless.
ken.



Albert William Smith said:
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
I give credits to those who contribute this long standing issue. Well done! I just want to add some thoughts of mine that can be further clarified. First, I agree that Banaba was annexed separately and at a later date compared to the Gilbert Islands. I do not dispute that fact. However, if you dig further, one could find that all of the islands that have been annexed by the British colonial government which includes Banaba, were all incorporated as one nation (Kiribati).....despite that that island is Beru, Makin or Tarawa. This means that as a nation, Banaba is still seen as one of the islands of Kiribati legally and politically. For example, Banabans on Rabi Island in Fiji are today catogarized as citizens of Fiji whereas Banabans on Banaba still categorized as I-Kiribati people.

So in arguing for Banaban identity.....that is good in order to preserve the unique culture of the Banaban people to remain survive. I encourage other islands of Kiribati to do the same like the people of Banaba Island. The people of other islands in Kiribati should look at the people of Banaba Island and think what is left to maintain to show eitheryou are true Tarawan or Beruan person. I cannot agree that all Tarawans and the Beruans have the same identity.... lols

The Banaban people occupy a unique position in the Kiribati society today as a result of colonial exploitation of their island by the British government in partnership with Australia and New Zealand. Anyone who knows the story will feel sorry for the people of Banaba island. However that unique position must not be abused today and should remain as it is when it was first enforced.

Finally, I would like to say that the people who prouds to call themselves I-Kiribati should also look at their respective islands they originally come from and try to do something that will not show only you as an I-Kiribati but also as a true Tabiteuean or Beruan person.
Well defined Arita. It is good to know that there are people out there who know what they are talking about and have agut to say so.

Cheers

ARITA NATHAN said:
I give credits to those who contribute this long standing issue. Well done! I just want to add some thoughts of mine that can be further clarified. First, I agree that Banaba was annexed separately and at a later date compared to the Gilbert Islands. I do not dispute that fact. However, if you dig further, one could find that all of the islands that have been annexed by the British colonial government which includes Banaba, were all incorporated as one nation (Kiribati).....despite that that island is Beru, Makin or Tarawa. This means that as a nation, Banaba is still seen as one of the islands of Kiribati legally and politically. For example, Banabans on Rabi Island in Fiji are today catogarized as citizens of Fiji whereas Banabans on Banaba still categorized as I-Kiribati people.

So in arguing for Banaban identity.....that is good in order to preserve the unique culture of the Banaban people to remain survive. I encourage other islands of Kiribati to do the same like the people of Banaba Island. The people of other islands in Kiribati should look at the people of Banaba Island and think what is left to maintain to show eitheryou are true Tarawan or Beruan person. I cannot agree that all Tarawans and the Beruans have the same identity.... lols

The Banaban people occupy a unique position in the Kiribati society today as a result of colonial exploitation of their island by the British government in partnership with Australia and New Zealand. Anyone who knows the story will feel sorry for the people of Banaba island. However that unique position must not be abused today and should remain as it is when it was first enforced.

Finally, I would like to say that the people who prouds to call themselves I-Kiribati should also look at their respective islands they originally come from and try to do something that will not show only you as an I-Kiribati but also as a true Tabiteuean or Beruan person.

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