Friday, July 25, 2014

The Story behind the Global Uchinaanchu Video Support Message for Henoko & its classic Okinawan antiwar song: "You & I are all leftovers from ships' bombings."

Via our colleague and friend, Dr. Hideki Yoshikawa of Citizens Network for Biodiversity in Okinawa, Save the Dugong Campaign Center, and Okinawa Outreach: "Inspiring Video by Uchinaanchu".
Support for the Okinawan struggle against the construction of the military base in Henoko/Oura Bay is pouring in from around the world. Here is a great example of such support.

Three Uchinaanchu (Okinawans/Okinawan descendants), Brandon Ing from Hawaii, Carolina Higa from Argentina, and Karina Satomi Matsumoto from Brasil, have created and uploaded this wonderful and inspiring video “No New Base in Henoko” on YouTube. 

Compiling photos of people from different parts of the world, holding signs supporting Okinawa’s struggle, this video is a powerful remainder to those of us in Okinawa that we are not alone and that we need to continue our fight.

Brandon, Carolina and Karina Satomi, thank you very much for creating and uploading this wonderful video!  Ippe nihe debiru!!!  

The Song and the Story behind

As an Okinawan myself, I was especially moved by their choice of the song accompanying these wonderful photos, "Kanpo nu kenukusa" ("Leftovers from the ships’ bombings), performed by the Deigo musume (Coral Tree Daughters). 

An Okinawan post-war classic song, Kanpo nu kenukusaa was written by Higa Kobin in 1971, who lost his parents, his first wife and children in World War II.

The song depicts in the Okinawan language the hardship and the hope that the “leftovers” (survivors) from the ships’ bombings experienced and embraced. The word “kenukusaa” (leftovers) captures the nature of the devastating bombings the Okinawan people experienced, as well as the feelings of guilt of those who survived them. At the same time, the everyday nature that the music expresses makes the word “kenukusaa” resonate with the meaning of the English word “survivor”: People who are able to cope with hardship.

Sadly, Kobin himself was killed along with his second wife after he wrote the song in 1971 in Okinawa in a horrible traffic accident caused by a drunken US soldier.

The singers, Deigo musume, are Kobin’s beloved daughters and they are one of the most respected Okinawan music groups (see this Youtube video).

I hope that this song and the story behind it help explain to people in the world why we Okinawans and our supporters are determined to stop the construction of the base in Henoko/Oura Bay and to challenge the militarization of our islands.  And I hope many people watch and get inspired by the Video.

Below is my humble English translation of "Kanpo nu kenukusaa."


"Kanpo nu kenukusaa"

1) When we were young, it was a time of war.

Young flowers never bloomed, Young flowers never bloomed.

Our houses, our ancestors, our parents, and our brothers and sisters were all targets of ships’ bombings

We had no clothes, no food, nothing at all.

We ate fern palms to survive.

You and I, you and I are all leftovers from the ships’ bombings.

2) We had no Gods and no Buddha to rely on.

With our farmlands enclosed by the fence, we had no way to make a living. With our farmlands enclosed by the fence, we had no way to make a living.

Our humble houses were blown off by the wind of war. 

Trying to steal food and goods (from the military) to survive, we were caught, pushed, pulled and rolled over.

All despite, we had honest and sincere hearts.

You and I, you and I are all leftovers from the ships’ bombings.

3) Rising up from the muddy ground,

I wanted to have a family, and I found my wife, I wanted to have a family, and found my wife.

We had and raised our first son, second son, and third son, just like snails do.

Amidst our hardship, we sought comfort and soul in the laughter of the children. 

You and I, you and I are all leftovers form the ships’ bombings.

4) Years have passed since peace returned

Our children are now all grown-up, our children are now all grown-up

Like a poor wild boar who got shot but still worrying about her piglet,

I cannot sleep at night,

worrying that the waves of war will return.

You and I, you and I are all leftovers from the ships’ bombings.

5) The war that ate my parents, 

The ships’ bombings that ate my village, the ships' bombings that ate my village.

How could I forget that, even if I were to be born again?

Who started this?

My resentment and my sorrow were never enough and never end.

I want to tell this as my last words to my children and grandchildren,

You and I, you and I are all leftovers from the ships’ bombings.

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