The community house

The maneaba, the community house is the heart of the village. It is an enormous palm leave roof on stilts that functions as community, party and meeting centre, as day-care, as courthouse and as retirement club. On the road a cut palm tree leave functions as a traffic sign: you approach a maneaba. When moped drivers pass the maneaba during a meeting the motor needs to be switched of the moped should be pushed across the building. Respect!     The maneaba of Raweai, our village of these weeks is erected on 24 September 1982. That means that every September is a month of celebrations. A stroke of luck, or better said fish! Every weekend there are celebrations and tonight, yes tonight now we are here miss Raweai is being chosen. ‘Coconut’ Bob has moved his Chinese sound system from his hut to the maneaba. Mangroves are cut and line as pot plants the catwalk. The catwalk itself is a red carpet colourful fabric on the concrete floor of the maneaba. And we as spectators sit on mats along the borders. Eventually there are only two contestants, two school girls of 15, who do different performances. But that is still a long way off. First there is spoken by several gentlemen of the community council… about the importance of gathering and the presence of the I Matang, the white visitors. Everyone calls out uboia, uboia, uboia, nicely said. Bob turns on the speakers. Loud music blasts into the sky. Three guys with sun glasses and crests full of grease come from behind a curtain and sing some Kiribatian pop. All of the 220 residents squeeze on the mats. The following group of singers borrowed the blouses of their sisters. They sing better than their friends. The crowd cheers. The misses present themselves. First round: both in self made evening gown. The dresses shine and show their folds of newness. There is only one pair of high heeled shoes in Raweai, which are shared by the girls without competition. Bob, retired sailor, is not only in charge of the music but also the mundane gestures. He taught the girls how to walk with their strong points forward while swinging and swaying with their hips. They blow kisses to the audience and the camera’s of Thom and Diederik. They play with the camera, stand still on the cat walk, turn and shove their but to the lens. The audience screams. I hold my breath. One of the girls sings a sings a hit in English… ‘I still love you and I wait for you’. She looks continuously to Diederik, he brings his hand to his heart. The roof gets raised. During the break in the program I suggest to Thom and Diederik to leave the village quietly and immediately. Two broken hearts and a bunch of furious jealous young men is not the research that I imagined. Anne-Marie Boer                  


  1. Nonomanu

    1 oktober 2013

    whis to see and learn My Kiribati way….

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