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?
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.
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.
I have written a children’s book. It is a Kiribati story, with Kiribati characters and told with a Kiribati heart. It is called Teaote & The Wall.
People say they love hearing about my culture and all I am doing is talking about Kiribati food, language, religion etc. It may not seem it but I have worked hard at making sure I am connected to my culture.
For thousands of years Pacific culture has lead to men believing that domestic violence is right and a man’s prerogative. This is absolutely wrong, but it doesn’t take a bill in parliament to change a society’s ways that they have held for thousands of years.
By learning more about ourselves, we learn more about the world. The more we learn about the world, the more our diverse communities grow to learn and respect each other.It is everyone’s responsibility to share what they know about their own community.
I walked back to the house with two cousins running ahead and a baby cousin on my hip. I was wearing a traditional Kiribati top (tiibuta) and a sarong. I was barefoot and despite my lighter skin, I could have been any other I-Kiribati woman. A baby on my hip, yelling at my younger cousins to stop fighting and going back to my house where my family waited.