About the people of Banaba

Beach in Banaba

About the people of Banaba

Different people from different parts of the world have varying histories that try to explain their culture, origin and also claim some parts of the world. Just like any other parts of the world, the inhabitants of Banaba which is an island in the Pacific Ocean also have their own stories to tell and cultural practices. Various sources state that the Te Aka clan people from Melanesia are the original inhabitants of the island although some sources refute this.

The locals of the island

The inhabitants of Banaba are often referred to as the forgotten people of the Pacific. Their history and their cultural practices combine forced displacement, colonization, internment, war and the global demand for phosphate which is used globally to produce industrial chemicals and fertilizer. During the mining period, the locals were ruled by the mining companies which also determined their wellbeing.  Also, there is a claim that the people of Banaba are ethnically distinct from other people of the Republic of Kiribati. They were assimilated into other cultures through forced migration in the 1900s, and this played a very key role in making them to be “forgotten.” This is because, as history shows, it is very difficult for individuals to maintain their identity and culture in a foreign land which has played a significant role in eroding the culture of many people.

Future prospects of the people

Most of the original inhabitants of the island are actively campaigning for the community to be granted independence from Kiribati government which is in the process of integrating them with the whole country. Also, other generations which have been raised in different countries such as Fiji wish to return to their homeland as a community.

Although maintaining the cultural identity is said to be hard, the Banabans have always tried as much as possible to maintain and preserve it via publications, networking, and the internet.