Marshallese Legends and Traditions


One day the great chief Kabua wanted to sail from Ebon to Jaluitwith a fleet of approximately 100 boats. They only wanted to "sail a little for pleasure", jerakerik bajik; but the weather was unfavorable and they did not reach their destination. In Kabua's boat were also his father, Jibe, his father's uncle, Labijetak, his uncle's younger brother, Keiju, Kabua's mother, Libokeang, her daughter, Litelinej, her daughter's younger sister, Limailang, and finally Kabua's brother, Lakajimui, and a few commoners (kajur). The boat reached Pingelap, where Joumanger was Irooj [61]. For three months they remained on Pingelap in peaceful coexistance with the inhabitants. Then, however, Joumanger wanted to get rid of them. Thus a quarrel ensued. Joumanger threw a rock at Labijetak's forehead and shouted "eam" "that is yours". Immediately Labijetak and Kabua grabbed their spears and knocked him down so that he died. Then all the Pingelapese ran away and gave up the battle. Then Kabua had an even larger boat carved (jekjek oa) than the one that he already had, and when it was ready, he sailed home with his people to Jaluit, which had been his residence for years and years. On the strength of that, Kabua claimed sovereignty over Pingelap. The German government, however, did not acknowledge his claims and took the island from him. There is still a proverb about Kosrae and Pingelap from ancient times:

"I want to eat bananas, I want to go to Pingelap!"

i.e. I am going to Kosrae, then to Pingelap.

Pingelap was visited by Letao when he came from Eb. There he tapped palm wine. It flowed so copiously that the bowls (coconut shells) hanging on the trees overflowed and dripped down.

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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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