Essentially Being Banaban in Today's World: The Role of Banaban Law "TE RII NI BANABA" (Backbone of Banaba) In a Changing World
By Roabeia Ken Sigrah and Stacey M. King
How can Banabans safely embrace this new century and at the same time achieve the goal of self-determination while still upholding their heritage? This study focuses on Banaban culture as the foundation of ethnic identity. For centuries Banabans have utilized their system of traditional law known as “Te Rii Ni Banaba” (The Backbone of Banaba) to settle clan disputes in regard to land ownership, genealogy and roles within Banaban society. By analyzing the past and present fragmentation of Banaban civilization during Colonial rule, WWII and exile of the people to Rabi Island, this paper identified the current problems that have to be addressed to ensure cultural and ethnic survival in today’s fast changing world. It highlights the history, oral traditions and the origins of the Banaban people. It also focuses on the strength and determination of the Banabans to uphold their identity while under the governance of two Pacific nations, Fiji and Kiribati. Now as the young Banaban generation is taught under the system of western education the study describes the importance and onus of responsibly the clan spokesman has to ensure ethnic survival in the years ahead. The preservation of Banaban cultural law and its implementation into today’s systems of introduced western administration was studied and found vital in aiding the community in its social, political and economic development. This study concludes that the strength of the Banabans lies within, with culture, customs and traditions as the core of their unity. It is only through unity that the Banaban community can move forward with one voice to seek justice for their past and to safeguard build a much better future.
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Conference Paper: ISLANDS of the WORLD VIII Taiwan
This paper was presented and published at ISLANDS of the WORLD VIII International Conference “Changing Islands – Changing Worlds”1-7 November 2004, Kinmen Island (Quemoy), Taiwan