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  • Writer's pictureMichael Roman

Migrants to the USA

When we started it was just a few of us, maybe five I-Kiribati in total attended that year, in 1990. We held it in San Francisco. There were three families and two guests from Fiji. Abaua, the only person to dance, did all the dances, she was very talented.

The next independence was held at my house. We wanted to have fresh flowers to dance with. So early in the morning, we decided to get our flowers. We drove to a spot on the freeway that had the most beautiful flowers, stopped on the side of the road, and cut enough to decorate our dancing outfits that afternoon. We stuffed the flowers in our plastic bags quickly, hoping not to be stopped by the police and ran back to the car.

Looking for other kinds of flowers, we continued driving. Keeping our eyes out for the police, we stopped only when we were sure none were around. Isn’t that crazy? Here we were with all of these cars speeding by us at sixty-five miles per hour, and then us, two island girls clipping flowers from the highway.

That year, Mabuike and her son danced. It was funny because he never danced before. We tried to teach him how, but it didn’t help, his hands were falling everywhere.

We had three singers that year for his performance. It was just too funny. In Kiribati, hundreds of people can sing for a dance performance, but then, three. We didn’t care though. We were just so happy being with other I-Kiribati. It was our time to be happy, eat our food, and speak our language.

Later, more and more I-Kiribati started coming from other states. We always held the celebrations here in California. Then people from the east came people from Hawai’i came, and that is when Independence began rotating from state to state, with different families hosting the annual celebration.

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