Description of Banaba, 1898


…And at 12 noon we sailed to Banaba. This is a land that is somewhat circular, and it is higher than all of the other lands of Kiribati. This land appears to be a heap of volcanic rock. There are a lot of sharp, long, and tall rocks all over on this land, and there are very few coconut trees, because of the many rocks and the heat of the sun. The fruit of the kamani and the seed within is the staple food of these people; this is eaten together with raw fish, and it is also cooked. Water that is drunk by the people is below in deep caves; the women fetch it with torches. You walk standing upright and some places you crawl. Each family are the owners of their own cave; and if someone just takes [without permission], they will die in war. There are many who die when the torch goes out in the cave.

But we are extremely joyful this year (1898) on that land, that is because we are trying once more to eat the fruits of our land of birth. Like sugarcane, banana, orange, lemon, mango, watermelon, pumpkin, and some other fruits. The reason for this is that there was a lot of rain this past year, and these things were grown; but the heat from the sun is returning and all of those things will disappear. Life is sustained with the fruit of the kamani and the fish of the sea. It was here that Itaaka Kinta used to live some years ago; and these days Rev. Taremon is the pastor of this parish. There are two fine churches, some school teachers, and the people greatly desire righteousness, and they wear clothes correctly. On Thursday, Feb. 17, we left this land, the edge of the Kiribati Archipelago, and went west for Kusaie (Ualana) in the Caroline Archipelago.

(Kuokoa, 4/22/1898, p. 4)

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke XXXVII, Helu 16, Aoao 4. Aperila 22, 1898.