Marshallese Legends and Traditions

The origin of the banana

Along long time ago there was a man by the name of Jorokwor. He was an old man, and he also didnžt have any wife. Jorokwor was alone in his house, and sometimes when he got sick, there wasnžt anybody to take care of him.

One day he became sick. There was a boil growing on his right thigh. [16] After a few days he couldn't walk. The boil got bigger and bigger and it was painful. Jorokwor began to worry, because the boil got so big that he couldnžt lift his right leg. The boil was the biggest boil that ever existed.

One day the boil erupted and a girl came out. Jorokwor was very surprised to see a nice little girl come from his boil. The girl grew up and became a pretty girl, and she was now old enough to help her father. She was now doing all the work because her father was now an old man. Then her father became sick and his leg was still bothering him. Every day his leg got worse until he was unable to stand or walk, and the daughter was now taking care of her father.

But one day Jorokwor realized that he was getting weaker. He called his daughter and told her that he was going to die. He said to his daughter "If I die, please make my grave right under your window, and after you have buried me, then go and look for my two mothers at the other end of the island."

When Jorokwor died, his daughter buried him under her window. When she finished, she started toward the other end of the island where her two grandmothers were living. She saw their house and went in. However, her two grandmothers were witches. They grabbed the girl and locked her in a room. Then they started to feed her all the good food. They wanted to make her fat so they could eat her at the end.

One day the witches went to check to see if the girl was fat enough to eat. The older woman said to the other woman "She is ready now. Letžs eat her tomorrow." They both agreed to have the girl for supper the next day.

So the next morning the witches gathered firewood and made an earth oven. The girl looked out through a big hole and saw the two women preparing the oven to cook her. While the two old women were waiting for the oven to be ready, the girl started to cry and called her father. She was crying like this: "Father, Father Jorokwor, why did you send me to your witch-mothers? Now they are going to have me for supper, Father, Father Jorokwor."

Her grandmothers did not hear what she was saying. Then she started again "Father, Father Jorokwor, why did you send me to your witch-mothers? Now they are going to have me for supper, Father, Father Jorokwor."

One of the women heard what the girl was saying. She said "Listen to what the girl is saying." The girl started to sing again "Father, Father Jorokwor, why did you send me for supper, Father, Father Jorokwor."

The two witches heard the girl and said to each other "That girl is calling our son Jorokwor." So they released the girl and hugged her and kissed her. They asked "Is Jorokwor your father?"

"Yes" she said. "One time he had a boil and when it erupted, I came out. My father died but he told me to come and look for you." The old women took the girl into their arms and cried. They were very sorry for the way they had treated her. [17]

The next day they returned to Jorokwor's house. They found that a banana tree was growing on the grave. This was the first banana tree. This story took place on Woja, Ailinglaplap, and on this island there are many banana trees.

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Bibliographic citation for this document

Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (1998). Marshallese Legends and Traditions Second edition. Albury:

Dirk H.R. Spennemann, Institute of Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, P.O.Box 789, Albury NSW 2640, Australia.

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