ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK 34TH ANNUAL MEETING
It was with great anticipation that I traveled to Honolulu to attend the Asian Development Bank Meeting on Monday, May 7th, 2001.
I was invited several months ago to attend the protest that would happen from on the streets fronting the Hawai'i Convention Center. I made a choice, which I am now very happy about, to go inside with Na Kupuna (The Hawaiian Elders). There were about 40 Kupuna from every island that were brought to the meeting by the Aha Ho'okele, which is co-chaired by Maj. Gen. E. Richardson HIANG (Ret.) & Judge Walter Heen (Ret.).
Pu'uhonua "Bumpy" Kanahele, along with his committee, treated us like royalty. Gordon Kaaihue (who I found out was related to me) headed the security force of 10 Hawaiian men. We also had makua (younger adults) that took care of our every wish. Whenever we went to and from the Convention Center or anywhere in the center, we had 2 or 3 of what I nicknamed "BLALA POWER" - our bodyguards - with us. Because of the possible violence, Bumpy and his group devised all kinds of plans that would be put into place for our protection. I have been to the White House Rose Garden and met with the President (The other Bush) and have never seen Police, Security and Swat Teams all over.
It was hard not to be on the outside as I had always done, and seeing my mo'opuna (grandson) Kamalani Kamali'i in the crowd marching with our 'ohana (family) was a little sad, however it was the right decision that I made. We got to talk one on one to the delegates from all over the world and inform them of the plight of the native people of Hawaii.
I had a chance the next day to do the Pule (prayer) as a Kahu (Reverend) and it was a golden opportunity to address everyone from all over the world, plus the Governor, Lt. Governor and many of the State and Federal officials from Hawaii and Washington D.C.
One of the organizers of the luncheon asked me to read a Hawaiian prayer and she would translate it, but she was informed that I do not "read" prayers unless it is the Holy Bible. She told me that I could do what I wanted, which I did.
Before the pule, I performed a welcome chant followed by an ancient chant to our ancestors. In my prayer, I asked the lord to help the plight or our people, who welcomed everyone here and now make up the highest statistics in the social ills of Hawai'i and America, yet we are the smallest of numbers in population. I asked the lord to bless our people that are living on the beaches who are homeless and poor, and the protesters who will be marching for our native rights, and the police officers and security guards who are trying to keep peace. I asked the lord to bless the delegates that were present and give them wisdom to help the poor people of the world and to make it a better place for us all. I asked also to bless ADB President Mr. Chino and all his officers to make good decisions, and to bless the Governor and all his cabinet members and the state legislators. And I thanked the lord for this beautiful day in Hawaii, amene. Many people including President Chino and Gov. Cayetano commented on the prayer throughout the days that followed.
When I first met President Chino, I sang a classical Japanese song for him and he was shocked that a native Hawaiian could sing Japanese with all the inflections that the typical Japanese singers use. I informed him that 25 years ago, I came in second place singing Japanese in the finals and lost to a Japanese woman who was living in Hawaii and brought up in Japan. He said that he had been all around the world and this is the first time someone had sung with him in his own language. That was fun.
Hopefully our participation in the Convention will have some far-reaching effects in helping our Hawaiian people economically be self-sufficient as they once were. The Kupuna were pointing out to the delegates that even though this is supposedly America, our people live under third world conditions. We are landless, yet our culture is land based, and are the poorest of health in the entire nation, most poorly educated, more so than American Natives who live in improvised reservations. We are the most in prison, the most in drug use, the highest rate of suicide, the most child abusers and the list goes on. This is the direct result of our country being occupied and our Kingdom stolen. We are now strangers in our own land. Many of us are trying to overturn these statistics by restoring our culture, language and the will to persevere. Someone had said, "its surprising that there are Hawaiians left after all the harm that was done to their race." In spite of this, we have survived and together "we shall overcome" in the Ku'u One Hanau (The sands of our birth), in these lands of Hawai'i Nei.
For more ADB articles and images see: http://www.hawaii-nation.org/adb.html