Mālama Kumu in South Africa

November 14, 2015

There is a certain buzz in the air as the dancers, chanters and speakers from Kamehameha Schools and Halau Ku Mana run through their final preparations for their part in the Ceremony of Peace and Friendship here in the magnificent city of Cape Town. A long line of African school children from Primary to High School arrive with their musical cases in hand. They slowly unpack their cases, and start to warm up on their mouthpieces. Ahhhh, this is a Brass Band that will be performing during the ceremony. The African drums and dancers arrive as well, practicing their "Gum Boot Dances" that they will be adding to the ceremony. It's a new dance for me to see – they dance in their gum boots – with fancy footwork and great emotion! Chairs are set up, lei are given out to the dignitaries, and the final check of the sound system is carried out. All are ready and in place, the Brass Band starts to play music from the Lion King and then Archbishop Desmond Tutu arrives to a throng of reporters trying to snap pictures of him as he makes his way to a special tent area for all the dignitaries. It is amazing to be in his presence, and to feel his aloha.

From around the corner of the harbor comes our beautiful Hōkūleʻa, who has traveled halfway around the world to South Africa. It is truly a chicken skin moment to see her coming in flying the South African flag - a gesture of respect, asking permission to land. (And after docking, she raised the Hawaiian and American flags!)

The African Drums start to play, the Hawai‘i groups start to oili, not in competition, but rather blending together, all welcoming Hōkūleʻa to this new land. Their famous mountain, called Table Top, is standing as a great backdrop for the Ceremony of Peace and Friendship. It was like having Ka'ala right here with us.

The ceremony begins and there are many important words and messages that are delivered. The Reverend Tutu, the Archbishop’s daughter, asks for a moment of silence and offers a pule for the victims of the Paris bombings, that just happened a day earlier. She acknowledges the pain of the world, and says that this is a reason why today is so important, that we all must come together in peace and kindness for one another.

An African 'Olelo Noeau that was spoken about in the speeches says: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." Hōkūleʻa has traveled very, very far, halfway around the world, with many people helping her along the way. It's amazing what we can accomplish when we all pull together to deliver the message of Malama Honua.

Nainoa is introduced as President of the Voyaging Society, and also a great leader in Hawai'i. His mana'o is that he is not a leader, but rather a follower of some great kumu in his life who have come before him; mainly his father and Mau.

It was a beautiful South African Day – blue skies, a touch of their trade winds rolling in, and Hōkūleʻa arriving safely in Africa. Who would have dreamed this would have happened a decade ago?

With much aloha and deep feelings of gratitude and appreciation a me ka ha'aha'a.

Submitted by Malia Ane, Director of Hawaiian Studies