Entry Date: 22.06.2019, at 15:00:00 hrs (local)

Vuda Marina - Lautoka

Banabans

Image

PRID: 11763
LegID: 318
LegNo: 66
Latitude: S016°26.69'
Longitude: W179°56.31'
Day#: 893
Log (Day): 21 nm
Log (Leg): 499 nm
Log (Total): 48926 nm
We have read that the inhabitants of the island of Rabi are not Fijians, but came here after the Second World War from the Kiribati region. We are interested to learn more about it and together with the crew of the SV Dazzler we visit the administrative center of the island, Nuka. Since Nuka does not have an anchorage suitable for us, we leave SuAn and Dazzler in the Albert Cove and use our dinghies to cover the four nautical miles to Nuka.

Also in Nuka we meet very friendly people. Of course, we are curious and ask them about their origin. Willingly they tell us their story. They also lead us to a memorial plaque remembering the arrival of the Banabans (as the inhabitants here are called) on December 15, 1945 here on Rabi.

We learn that the people who live here today, actually come from the island of Banaba, which is more than 1100 nautical miles northwest of Fiji. Banabans are Micronesians with a language very similar to the Gilbertese Kiribati language.

Their home island was annexed by the British in 1900 and subsequently exploited by the British Phosphate Company. The phosphate mining resulted in a serious destruction of the island. During the Second World War, Japanese troops occupied Banaba and subjected its inhabitants to a brutal rule in which many died of starvation or torture. After the Second World War, however, the British Phosphate Commission resumed mining on the island, with all its negative consequences, and the colonial government had the residents of Banaba forcefully displaced to the island of Rabi here in Fiji.

After coming to Rabi, the Banabans fought for compensation for a long time because of the damage to their home island and their expulsion.

In one of the longest civil cases in the history of British justice, the judge concluded that the Banabans were wrongly treated, but it was beyond his power to hold the British government accountable. Only in 1981 did the Banabans receive a small compensation.
Many Banabans live on Rabi today, but the island of Banaba will always be their home.