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Stories From Kiribati

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Te Roota

Posted by Amota Eromanga on August 4, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Below is the lyric of a sad song composed and sung by Nei Kauee (Kiribati well known female singer) and her group FOB - a local string choir which was so popular in 1980s. The four verses of the song together provide a summarised account of what really happened to Te Roota and passengers who were onboard her at that miserable trip. Te Roota was a passenger boat running mainly between Tarawa and Abaiang islands. It was owned and run by the people of Nuotaea village on Abaiang island. This trip was indeed the last this vessel ever made between Abaiang and Tarawa.

Although this true fortuity occurred more than twenty years ago, this song can still be heard nowadays among music broadcasted over Radio Kiribati. Once the song goes into our ears, memories go back to the victims of this horrible event which took the lives of many Ikiribati – men, women and children.

The song is in honour and memory of those who died as well as those managed to survive this grievous ocean accident. It has become an historical event which, like other events, will survive through generations to come. There aren’t any exceptions why we should not regard them as ‘heroes’ of the ocean!

Read the lyric of the song to discover more of what happened:

Verse 1: The year 1981, 26th day of the month March
                 it was Thursday the day we left
                 from our islet Nuotaea
                 we were going to Tarawa at Betio
                 but we didn’t get there 'cos Te Roota would not move.

Chorus: You all our families and relatives
                we were now in danger
                Died and left behind in the ocean
                Mr Taburuea and Teiaokita
                So sad Mr. Teaoti and Botaam
                Mrs Tekiakia Mrs Ribanikai Kiataake
                Aneta MrsTekiakia
                Rest in Peace and goodbye.

Verse 2: Sixty four (64) the number of days
                we drifted through vast ocean
                28th May we were found
                by the American fishing vessel
                we were then taken to Truk.

Verse 3: We finally got back onto our
                island that we love so much
                We Mr Etau Kirataura
                Takineti Ioane Antonio
                Benian Kamaua Mrs Temanibwebwe
                Mrs Kautu Kakianako Mrs Boratu Mrs Ioanna
                Health upon us all.

Here's the download link of Te Roota song (sung by modern singers).

Categories: Sad Stories

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1 Comment

Reply Amota Eromanga
6:53 AM on August 4, 2012 
I welcome corrections (if any) to the words in the verses! In addition, if indeed you are one of those involved, we?d love to read a detailed story from you!