THE PEOPLE ON THE REEF
TUVALU, MY TUVALU
Tuvalu, my Tuvalu the land across the sea
Surrounded by the Ocean, you mean so much to me
I miss those coral atolls with gentle swaying palms
With smiling gentle people, so peaceful and so calm.
Tuvalu, my Tuvalu I always think of you
Wherever I may travel across the sea so blue
And deep inside me I know that it will be
Tuvalu, my Tuvalu you always think of me.
Your sons and daughters travel away to distant lands
They leave their homes and families so that they will understand
To study truth and knowledge in sadness and in pain, and then
Tuvalu, my Tuvalu you welcome them home again.
Tuvalu, my Tuvalu may Gods blessings be on you
To give you strength and courage to see the future through
And may our blessed people hold their heads up high
Tuvalu, my Tuvalu I will love you till I die.
SPIRIT OF TUVALU
Our Tuvaluan people have lived for thousands of years on a handful of small coral atolls surrounded by the great Pacific Ocean and have made these tiny infertile coral atolls their home.
They have coped with adversity in the form of foreign invaders, king tides and hurricanes that have all but devastated these tiny atolls. Each time the people aided by their strong religious faith have rebuilt their lives.
The beautiful and complex Tuvaluan culture has evolved over the years into its present form. It has contended with the coming of the traders and the missionaries, the presence of each resulting in some form or another the modification of this complex culture. The missionaries in particular had a profound influence on the traditional culture and the social structure. This resulted in a power shift from the traditional aliki or chiefs to the missionaries.
Below are images of traditional Tuvalu dancing (fatele)
Life for Tuvaluans has always been a precarious one as most of the coral atolls were only a few metres at the most above sea level. The three recorded hurricanes during the last century had a devastating effect on Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu. Luckily, the first of these occurred when the people of Funafuti were on a neighbouring islet of Funafala building a Church.
The last of these hurricanes happened on 21st October 1972 - almost every building was damaged - not a single palm tree remained intact and the ocean seeped up through the ground.
Perhaps the rising sea may eventually claim Tuvalu. Many experts say it will while others say it will not, contending that the sea is, in fact, not rising. Measuring instruments placed on Tuvalu suggest that the latter is presently the case. The people of Tavalu are aware of the problem but are not preoccupied with it - their optimism and love of life suggest that a solution to these problems is just over the horizon and this will see them through.
It is the deep religious conviction of the Tuvaluan people that is their greatest strength.
When this is combined with, the acumen and wisdom of the leaders and the elders along with the knowledge and energy of young Tuvaluans, then the future is in good hands.
The survival in one form or another of this island nation seems assured and this survival will be achieved in such a manner that Tuvalu and Tuvaluans will not be a burden to anybody.
Those things that are essentially Tuvaluan, our customs, culture and heritage, will always be retained in the hearts and minds of Tuvaluan people everywhere.
Funafuti Lagoon, Tuvalu - 2006
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