“Micronesian Copra”

From the Words of Orakidorm —- 

Growing up in the village one of the many things that we did as youngsters was to help our parents fix copra to sell for money. That meant collecting mature coconuts, husking them, cracking them, removing the meat, carrying them to the smoking house, smoking them, putting them in sags and transporting them on boats to Malakal to sell them. Later on, the work became a little sophisticated and so instead of husking the coconuts we split them with an ax then remove the meat and transporting them to the smoking house in a wheelbarrow rather than our backs. It was a hard work but was part of the “chores” that we had to do to help our family to survive.

Little did we know that all over Micronesia youths were involved in similar work, perhaps with similar aspirations and frustrations that we had experienced here in Palau. And little did we know that the global palm oil market was controlled by some rich person somewhere in the world who soon lost to the marketing of granola corn oil. The demand for palm oil, and therefore copra soon began to dwindle and industry began to slow down. Somewhere in Yap, Theo Thinnifel took copra making into another level as he wrote a poem titled, “The Micronesian Copra”.

“Micronesian Copra”


“The Spanish came, they sprouted us,

The Germans came, they husked us,

The Japanese came, they removed our shell,

Now, we are only soft meat, the Americans will surely eat us.”

Mr. Thinnifel saw the process of colonialism manifest itself in the process of making copra. The modernization of the Neo-Micronesian, the journey toward globalization and world harmonization, the global aspiration of the “fittest shall survive” is clearly manifested in his poem. This generation of English speaking, hot dog eating, cheeseburger craving, MTV visionary Palauans perhaps can only confirm the evolution of the “Micronesian Copra” and worst feel that it is inevitable.

I wonder, what would be the next appropriate line for Mr. Thinnifel’s poem as the Chinese begin to exert their influence in this region. What happens after we are all eaten up? For that matter, what’s the internal political fight or struggle all about? If Thinnifel is right and I think there is some truth to his prophetic poetry, which he wrote in the late 70s, the struggle should not be among us but about our survivability. If we do not start working together, the last line to Thinnifel’s poem will drafted by exploitation forces as, “Then the Chinese will ——– us.” Shie Shie!!! NOT Shi- Shi-.


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