Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chant Honoring the Chief

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"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

Dr. Martin Luther King

"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." Gen. George Patton

"Scrabble is both mindless and cerebral, which may account for it's appeal to writers - it gives you the chance to push words around without having to make them mean something." Judith Thurman, The New Yorker

The Hawaiians of old honored their Ali`i (Ah-lee-ee) or chiefs, with "Name Chants." These "Mele Inoa" were performed with music. Each mele also has an "Oli" version that was chanted with dignity. These are among the classics of Hula and of Hawaiian history, vestiges of an oral culture that are considered priceless cultural treasures.

Halau Ho`omau I ka Wai Ola ("In Hula & Halau, we remain young at heart and full of life.") is a Hula Halau of around 80 members who live in the Washington D.C. area. Most of the dancers are Hawaii people who work and live on the continent, but who feel an unbreakable connection to their home and to our island culture.

It was a point of pride to these frozen flowers that a man born and raised in our Hawaii has been elected High Chief of the United States. And so a Mele Inoa was created in his honor. The troupe performed the Chant and Hula in connection with the inaugural events last month.

He mele inoa no Obama
"The Leader of Inspiration Comes
Name chant in honor of Barack Obama"

Look to our leader, a strong person is he
A child from the land of righteousness

A child of Hawaii destined to lead
Who will make goodness flourish with aloha

Signs in the heavens tell of the coming of a new chief
Working for righteousness with love

Belief in change is instilled in the heart
For the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness

Let the story be known in the telling
The leader to renew inspiration has come

The living essence
of the land flourishes
We offer loving regard indeed

A name song for Barack Obama
("He inoa no Barack Obama")
Written by Kumu Hula Manu Ikaika ("Ua haka ia e Manu Ikaika")
(c) Manu Ikaika, December 7 2007
Language advisor: Puakea Nogelmeier