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Te Rii Ni Banaba - Book Reviews

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All material in this Web Site is Copyright © K. Sigrah & S. M. King  2001  All Rights Reserved.

 

Kabunare Tearoba
tt024@byuh.edu
Laie, Hawaii Hawaii
Thursday, May 08, 2003 

Hi Stacy and Ken I have read your book, "Te Rii ni Banaba." Its really interesting and I like to re-read again. You guys have done a great job.

Thanks for writing the book and for giving us good information about our past and our ancestors. Your work is highly appreciated and thanks a lot for being a good assest to our people.

Paul Eri
paul_eri@bigpond.com
Australia
30 March 2003
To Stacy and Ken,

Mauri. I would like to congratulate you both for an excellent work in co-writing 'Te Rii Ni Banaba'. I have just perused through the acknowledgements and introduction section of the book and already I feel deeply touched and moved by our history and that of our ancestors.

 

It's hard not to get emotional knowing that our ancestors were tricked and cheated out of their land by the British Phosphate Company, and brutally enslaved by the Japanese during world war II!


The biggest advantage though for us -the younger generation- is now we have our history and heritage narrated and documented by one of our own Banaban blood.. This is a big achievement on it's own and we're all indebted to you.

 

I can hardly wait to read through the whole book and find out more on te Aka, Auriaria and Nei Anginimaeao clans.

 

Kam a bati n raba.

Paul Eri.
(Decendant of Eri)

Aren Baoa
arenb@spc.int
Fiji
10 March 2003

Mauri Stacey & Ken,

I was reading over the weekend, the first 200 pages of your book "Te Rii Ni Banaba", oblivious to the calls by my addiction to kava. I was just skimming through the book, just tease my own knowledge about my roots. The real intense reading and response will come later. I was so engrossed in the book, I did not attend church and was 10mins late to work this morning.

Anyway I do not want to bore anyone with my story telling. In short I want to congratulate the two of you (Stacey & Ken) for the research and the eventual compilation of the book that will remain for generations to come. The book addresses a lot of misconceptions that were created by previous publications, that were written from foreigners perspective.

Apart from research work done by tertiary students (USP in particular and were never published) there have never been any real comprehensive documents about the Banabans on their history and culture written by us, Te Rii Ni Banaba as of today is only book written by a Banaban with kind assistance with a remarkable lady.

I hope this book can be used in our education system to sensitise our younger generations who the Banabans. The book should also be an encouragement to others to write songs and poems that relate to the Te Aka clan, Auriaria and "his mob" or the peaceful Nei Anginimaeao. Workshops of all sorts can eminate from Te Rii Ni Banaba for like creative writing.

I better stop here as I am getting late. All the best in your future endeavours. When is the movie going to be made?

Aren Baoa
(Auriaria Clan)

Review of "Te Rii ni Banaba" titled -

"BATTLING OVERWHELMING ODDS"  

by Katabwena Tawaka

Published in WANSOLWARA (One Ocean - One People) Vol. 7 No. 3 (page 14)

September 2002 issue

Journalism Training Newspaper, Suva Fiji Islands http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/

 

 

TE RII NI BANABA is a gripping account of the struggles of the people of Ocean Island against cultural invasion, and later the destruction of their homeland during the phosphate rush.  The authors, Raobeia Ken Sigrah, a Banaban, and Stacey M King, who had family involved in phosphate mining on Banaba, have done their research well.

They also draw on their personal experiences, relationships and affinity with the Banaban people to put up a compelling challenge against the many widely-accepted research on Banabans.  'Te Rii ni Banaba' touches on the anthropological and archaeological aspects of the Banabans and through oral history as related by the Banaban people.

Outsiders may not be able to tell the difference but despite the cultural and physical similarities with the I-Kiribati, the Banabans have always considered themselves a separate race and nation.  This is even though the language is more or less the same.  The authors write from an indigenous Banaban viewpoint, an bring into stark focus the dying traditional heritage and culture of the Banabans.

The book, categorised into four segments, outlines the chronological history of the Banabans, beginning with the 'Te Aka clan' who are classified as the original people of Banaba. Their customs, culture, legends, dance and genealogy are well covered.

The other segment details the invasion of Banaba mainly from Kiribati and later by Europeans (I-Matang).  Their impact on the Banabans, their culture and language, evident to this day, are discussed in the form of legends and myths.  The onslaught of Christianity which led to the conversion of many Banabans was another major upheaval.

The discovery and extraction of phosphate put ongoing pressure on the Banabans.  The final outcome was horrific - the destruction of what the Banabans held so dear - their homeland.  Before Banaba, an isolated patch of land in the Central Pacific, was ruined by phosphate mining, it was the home of 5000 Banabans.

They are today scattered between Banaba and Rabi Island in Fiji, which was purchased from the Fiji government.  The phosphate dollars, all but finished now, have done little to mollify a displaced people.  Throughout their travails, Banabans have tried to cling to their own unique customs and traditions - a daunting challenge.  The Banaban community will be grateful to the authors.

The book is a living record of their heritage.  It is an educational tool for their youth and interested parties wanting to know more about this unique ethnic group that despite overwhelming odds, never gave up the struggle.

  BATTLING OVERWHELMING ODDS (256k)

Brian Mac Rory
bmcrory@iol.ie
Dublin
Ireland
31 August 2002 

Hi,

I thought I would belatedly send a note to say I have read the book 'TE RII NI BANABA'.

While it would probably not be the sort of book I would normally read, I found it quite interesting and informative and excellently presented.

It gave a deep insight into the people of Banaba and you both deserve credit for the considerable work that must have been involved in writing it.

Brian Mac Rory

Jeremy Cooper
jeremy@olio.demon.co.uk
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom
(Producer BBC OUL documentary – “Coming Home To Banaba” –1997)
28 August 2002

Hi Ken and Stacey,

I have just finished a thorough reading of "Te Rii ni Banaba". What a storehouse of knowledge! I found it completely enthralling and felt very privileged to be able to share such valued memories and history.

What do we really know about Teimanaia’s skull and Dr Gould? In spite of Tuteariki's dream, I would be very happy to take on the task of seeing if the skull might be somewhere in the UK. Has anyone else looked here?

My partner Barbara is an archaeologist and has a lot of knowledge of UK Museums and antiquarian collections.

Was Gould from the UK? Did he return here? How can I find out more about him? Congratulations again on the book.

Regards, Jeremy Cooper

(More information is available on the search for Teimanaia Missing Skull and Dr. Gould by clicking on here)

Jocelyn Christopher
drjocy@yahoo.com
Suva
Fiji
20 August 2002

Thanks for setting up this website. I am a Banaban medical student and I haven't had the privilege of having my elders around to tell me the history of my people, as should be the case for every growing child. I've had to read up on history books and ask around if anyone has a piece of history on Banaba that might interest me. Imagine my surprise and joy when I came across the book "Te Rii Ni Banaba". I was so happy I forgot all about my quiz on Monday and spent all of Saturday night and the best part of Sunday just reading the book before I got back to studying for the quiz! I must say that was all new stuff to me. I can only sympathise with others like me who will not have access to such information.

I figure I owe the authors much gratitude for their extensive knowledge shared to everyone in such a moving book that illustrated the plight of this people.

I have very strong feelings on the subject of my people and would like to help out with the move to bring justice around where it should have been all those years back.

By the way, my mum was just telling me that my great-grandfather's name was one of the ones listed in the book as being shot by the Japanese. I'll be revisiting this website every now and again for any extra information on the island of Banaba itself.

Who knows? Maybe I'll take the time to go there myself in the near future!

Gerard Hindmarsh
New Zealand
12 August 2002

Dear Ken and Stacey, what a marvellous book, I have just finished reading my copy, took it very slow. I found it very moving - the accounts of the droughts, Japanese brutalities, the te Ata dig etc. Thank you for collating such a body of knowledge, the world can only be a richer place for that. The bit about Teimanaia's missing skull was intriguing too. I have written a few pieces for the ICOM (International Council of Museums) newsletter publication that goes out to Museums worldwide and I wondered about writing something up about the skull in the hope of some curator somewhere coming out with some knowledge about it.  

Best regards Gerard Hindmarsh

Natalie Minnis
natalie@ecosse.net
Scotland UK
26 April 2002
I've been very busy moving into my new flat, but I've had time to read the first 50 pages of Te Rii Ni Banaba. It's absolutely fascinating - I'm enthralled!

Guy Slatter
guy@minehill.demon.co.uk
United Kingdom
10 April 2002

Kam na mauri!

I thought I'd send you a few lines to say how fascinated I was to read the book - Te Rii Ni Banaba, a copy of which I'd obtained from Colin Hinchcliffe here in UK. Congratulations to you both. I'm sure that the Banaban people will be eternally grateful to you for your efforts. You certainly had a wealth of material.


Having things explained from the islanders' point of view provides a totally different picture about so many aspects. It has made me even sorrier that I never managed to get there during my two years on Tarawa from '68-'70. I visited all the other islands in the G&EIC apart from Nonouti, Washington, Fanning and the uninhabited ones. The opportunity to go to Banaba never came up. I'm sorry, too, that I wasn't able to make it in '97. One thing I did find rather strange was that it was possible for the original te Aka clan to be able to continue to live on the same pretty small island as Auriaria and his followers - one might have expected that one side would have wiped out the other. There must have been some pretty sensible leaders on both sides!

Anyway, I hope that all is well with you both - I just wish the Pacific wasn't so far away from here!

Tiabo, Guy

Paulo Vanualailai
vanualailai@yahoo.com
Hitachi City, Ibaraki Prefecture
Japan
19 November 2001

Recently I have acquired the newly released Te Rii ni Banaba, (Sigrah and King 2001). While still in its first chapter, I am awed at the clarity in which the Authors attempted to piece together the tangible and intangible evidences of raw scientific data and that of oral literature to present the historical and chronological backdrop of our early forefathers in a truly captivating manner.

Recalling stories as being told to me by my grandmother and grandfather who were part of the exodus from Banaba to Gilbert under the Japanese invasion of Banaba in 1945 and that of my mother who was born in Tarawa and came to Rabi in Fiji as the first Banaba settlers in Rabi along with other Banaban family members, the book brought back nostalgic feelings, a feeling of being one with what our forefathers and parents went through even though physically I am not there. A vicarious feeling so to speak that transcends the boundary of time, so full of miseries, helplessness, anger, pain and uncertainty, culminating even to this present generation.

Yet in the face of such great adversaries, renewed strength and determination burns deep in within me to see life in a different light altogether, after all one has to shrug off the seemingly overhanging gloomy omens of our destiny which for generations have been carved out in the skeleton remains of the hardened coral pinnacles of Ocean Island.

For those whose interest and ambition to study and learn more about the Banaban culture and heritage, please don't hesitate to get yourself a copy of this great book. It entails almost the entire essence of our Banaban cultural life in a nutshell, how we perceive and see life spiritually, how our social and intricate cultural ties and norms was affected by inculturation of other races to our shores in bygone days, and the curse of birds dropping that moulds and shapes our destiny from the enclave remoteness of Banaba to the busy cultural crossroad of the Pacific in Fiji.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ken and Stacy for their unending support to bring back to life the forgotten stories of our past. Indeed the book has summed up Ken's very words when he quoted, "For the Land that we Love and to what we have lost, will Remain in our Hearts Forever".

Kam Batin raba.