The Voices of Those to be Drowned

September 24, 2014

Statement by Ms. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Civil Society Representative from the Marshall Islands at the opening of the United Nations Climate Summit 2014.

10 Responses to “The Voices of Those to be Drowned”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Well-written speech and excellent delivery. Very moving.

    It’s too bad that the ~70,000 Marshall Islanders have been assaulted first by atomic weapons testing and now by rising sea level, to say nothing of the machinations of Jack Abramoff and his local henchmen (quite a story there—many of their politicians apparently would fit right in with the worst Chicago has ever produced).

    Although the RMI makes a good “poster child” for the fight against AGW and rising sea level, IMO it’s too late for them and they are going to be among the first to pay the price for AGW. We will then see signs at rallies saying “Remember the Marchall Islands” (until they are supplanted by “Remember South Florida” signs).

  2. redskylite Says:

    Excellent speech and poem, a very worthy representative of civil society, remember English is not her native language (Ebon is the native spoken language in the Marshall Islands), as it was not for many of the youngsters in the other competition to select the next generation representatives to the New York UN summit. There are no formal political parties in the Marshalls, so I hope I do not read that she is part of a militant socialist/left wing plot. (Weren’t those the guys who went to Spain to fight in the Spanish civil war, watched over by a young Earnest Hemingway ?). Also remember many countries do not enjoy such as generous GDP so shoes and shopping may not be the main topic in teenagers minds universally.

    I remember when I was 13 I held the U.N in great esteem and awe and would have been honoured to win such a competition, our minds are more innocent at that age and we see things in a less cluttered way.

    Some good has come out from the event and some progress has been made:

  3. omnologos Says:

    She appears to have been chosen not as your average Mashaller but as author of the Tell Them poem written three years ago. I cannot find any other reference to climate change in her blog, apart from mentions of Tell Them that has had quite a large success.

    She is well travelled and was once part of Youthspeaks Hawaii, so there is no problem with English there.

    • omnologos Says:

      The blog mentions how Ms Jetnil-Kijiner started an environmentalist group with her cousins. Their focus was initially on rubbish, but at some point got involved.

      I guess climate change is a means to a different end. Also she is adamant she doesn’t do well with science, rather poetry.

    • redskylite Says:

      I never said she had a problem with English, she is a gifted young lady, the poem you highlighted is indeed inspirational:

      I prepared the package
      for my friends in the states
      the dangling earrings woven
      into half moons black pearls glinting
      like an eye in a storm of tight spirals
      the baskets
      sturdy, also woven
      brown cowry shells shiny
      intricate mandalas
      shaped by calloused fingers
      Inside the basket
      a message:
      Wear these earrings
      to parties
      to your classes and meetings
      to the grocery store, the corner store
      and while riding the bus
      Store jewelry, incense, copper coins
      and curling letters like this one
      in this basket
      and when others ask you
      where you got this
      you tell them
      they’re from the Marshall Islands
      show them where it is on a map
      tell them we are a proud people
      toasted dark brown as the carved ribs
      of a tree stump
      tell them we are descendents
      of the finest navigators in the world
      tell them our islands were dropped
      from a basket
      carried by a giant
      tell them we are the hollow hulls
      of canoes as fast as the wind
      slicing through the pacific sea
      we are wood shavings
      and drying pandanus leaves
      and sticky bwiros at kemems
      tell them we are sweet harmonies
      of grandmothers mothers aunties and sisters
      songs late into night
      tell them we are whispered prayers
      the breath of God
      a crown of fushia flowers encircling
      aunty mary’s white sea foam hair
      tell them we are styrofoam cups of koolaid red
      waiting patiently for the ilomij
      tell them we are papaya golden sunsets bleeding
      into a glittering open sea
      we are skies uncluttered
      majestic in their sweeping landscape
      we are the ocean
      terrifying and regal in its power
      tell them we are dusty rubber slippers
      from concrete doorsteps
      we are the ripped seams
      and the broken door handles of taxis
      we are sweaty hands shaking another sweaty hand in heat
      tell them
      we are days
      and nights hotter
      than anything you can imagine
      tell them we are little girls with braids
      cartwheeling beneath the rain
      we are shards of broken beer bottles
      burrowed beneath fine white sand
      we are children flinging
      like rubber bands
      across a road clogged with chugging cars
      tell them
      we only have one road
      and after all this
      tell them about the water
      how we have seen it rising
      flooding across our cemeteries
      gushing over the sea walls
      and crashing against our homes
      tell them what it’s like
      to see the entire ocean__level___with the land
      tell them
      we are afraid
      tell them we don’t know
      of the politics
      or the science
      but tell them we see
      what is in our own backyard
      tell them that some of us
      are old fishermen who believe that God
      made us a promise
      some of us
      are more skeptical of God
      but most importantly tell them
      we don’t want to leave
      we’ve never wanted to leave
      and that we
      are nothing without our islands.

      She is obliviously proud to be from the Marshall Islands and still you try and portray some sinister connection, I truly think you need help, you sad little man.

      • redskylite Says:

        hasty spell checker approve – please read obviously not obliviously

        • omnologos Says:

          Thanks for the oblivious pun 🙂

          I have never said ‘sinister’ I just explained why she was called in, what her connection to climate change is, and that at the UN as usual it’s mostly a show..

          • dumboldguy Says:

            More out-of-touch-with-reality attention seeking from the sad little man. Go away, Omno—-I haven’t had breakfast yet and you’re ruining my appetite.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        A beautiful poem, and it reminds one of the writings of Native Americans and indigenous peoples everywhere as “modern” society and the greedy white man overwhelmed them. Read Touch the Earth by McLuhan.

        I strongly second “I truly think you need help, you sad little man”, with one small change. I don’t “think” Omno needs help, I KNOW it. He is so wrapped up in himself and his attention seeking that he cannot help but come up with his “sinister little plots” and other dead-end thoughts.

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