For too long, Kiribati culture has upheld the dignity of men in favour for hiding the experiences of the women they abuse.
I have written about oceans, waves, contaminated well water, droughts, rising water temperature, low lying land, loss of culture, loss of land, loss of identity.
All of this I’ve written about and so I’m at a point in my writing career when my mind wanders to the big question: have I got anything left to give?
And from there, word by work, sentence by sentence, essay by essay, my culture started to seep in. Bit by bit. It didn’t happen straight away.
The culture seeps into my soul, like coconut oil being gently rubbed into my skin. The smells of salt, rotting rubbish, raw fish, sugar, bananas, dirt, sand, dead dogs, sweet toddy, bars of velvet soap, coconut oil, salted smoke fish, soy sauce and fresh bread buns. The sounds of cards slapping the floor on the…
I’ve been writing long enough to know that the writing mojo comes in waves. Sometimes it’s there and sometimes it isn’t. It’s so frustrating when it isn’t, but it will pass. So, I’ve decided to pass the buck somewhat. Instead of forcing something that’s not there, I have asked my mum to write down her recipe for Kiribati donuts.
There is no hiding that like so many other Kiribati men, my grandfather was abusive to my grandma. He was physically overbearing over Terira. There is a story that my grandma spent a night clinging to the inside of a well while my grandfather, in a rage, raced around looking for his wife.
If I can’t recognize the power storytelling and the advice my elders are passing onto me, how can I expect my future children to understand?
The canoe is made by the men in the village, but this couldn’t be done without relying on the strength and quality of the women’s rope. A thought which I find so wonderful 🙂
In my own cultural journey, these points are just some of the reasons I allow myself the title of upholding what it means to be a proud I-Kiribati woman…
Anywhere else in the world, it is a luxury to live by the sea. In Kiribati, it means that you are the first to be without a home.