Stellar, stunning and spectacular would not be superlatives in describing what Koko and I experienced this morning as we walked beneath a sky that was star-dotted and clear, and Waialeale’s summit, too, although clouds were hovering around its mid-section and blowing in from the east, where the light turned first yellow and then fiery red-gold as the sun made a dramatic appearance.
Waialeale was tinted mossy green in the dawn and mist pooled in the valleys of a cool, damp pasture, my favorite place on our walk, because it’s possible to see all the cinder cones and Kalepa ridge and even Ha`upu range. I was admiring the stillness and the beauty when I ran into my neighbor Andy, and his dog, Momi, and we were talking story beneath a tree when suddenly small black carpenter bees began to attack, stinging him in the arm and back, and nailing me on my neck, right above the spine. Koko was unscathed, apparently because she’s so low to the ground.
Neither of us had ever been swarmed by bees before, and we could only surmise that we were either too close to their nest or they didn’t like our politics, which at that point were still on the mayoral race — how did Baptiste capture the Filipino vote and would Carvalho get it this time? — and had not yet touched on his encounter with a woman who was actually going to vote for Sarah Palin just because she hadn’t aborted a Down syndrome baby.
I mean, yeah, yeah, that’s admirable and everything, but since when is it sufficient qualification for holding any office, much less the second-highest in the land?
I’d had the pleasure of hearing Andy deliver an entertaining and informative talk yesterday afternoon on the history of Kapaa, and I was reminded again of how the land, the people and the power structure of this place have shifted over time, yet most of us remain clueless as to what came before.
It seems there are two consistent themes in post-contact Hawaii history: racism and the consolidation of money/land/power into the hands of a few.
The first big money/land/power grab came in 1895, just two years after the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, when the sugar planters who had performed the dirty deed and then formed a new government, the Republic of Hawaii, decided that since there was no monarchy, there was no longer any need for crown lands, and so allowed those lands to be sold.
That’s how so many folks ended up with property in Hawaii, and while I imagine they don’t want to think it’s stolen, when you look at the facts, it essentially was.
The second big money/land/power grab came with the adoption of the Hawaiian Homes Act, which set aside for the Hawaiians some crummy lands that the sugar growers didn’t want. This ended homesteading opportunities for many of the non-Hawaiian working class folks who had managed, through previous homesteading initiatives, to get land up mauka, hence the creation of the Kapaa and Wailua Homesteads.
More importantly, it ensured that all land currently in sugar would remain in that use, and ended a restriction that prevented any single entity from owning more than 1,000 acres. And with that prohibition out of the way, it was easy for the plantations to gobble up land to form the vast holdings they still control today.
Finally, those of us who were appalled when the Coast Guard pointed a machine gun at Superferry protestors at the harbor last year might be interested to know that wasn’t the first time that the big guns were called out to put down the people.
Seems the National Guard, which was brought in to suppress striking sugar cane workers, set up a machine gun in downtown Kapaa and trained it on the Hee Fat building — now home of Olympic Café — where some 400 striking Filipino workers had gathered.
This was during the same strike that resulted in police killing 16 strikers on the Westside back in 1924 in what is known as the Hanapepe massacre.
Never underestimate the power of big business in Hawaii — and government's willingness to accommodate it.
Or the single-minded determination of bees, which were far too busy collecting pollen from the mock orange blossoms to even notice me as I hung laundry on the line, although I, with my neck still smarting, was certainly keeping an eye on them.