Chief hood – how is life in the hood?

From the “Words from Orakidorm” —- 

Some years ago, a vocal and a well-known politician made a statement that “traditional leaders should go and stay in the museum where they belong”, which caused an uproar in the hood, the Chiefhood. In an article titled, “Where Do Traditional Leaders Fit in Today’s Society?”, Father Hezel discusses some of the fundamental issues surrounding the co-existence of traditional and modern democratic leadership in Micronesia.

The co-existence of the two governance systems in Palau makes Palau the most governed country at least in this hemisphere, and may be the world. The very idea that the imported type of democracy is somehow a fairer model of representation is erroneous, especially, as it is compared to the traditional democratic aristocracy that existed before any outside influence had arrived. At the end of the day, it is a decision of who shall rule the hood, the chieftains or the peasants. The problem is NOT that the traditional leadership is outdated but that it must cease being prostituted by the modern system. For example; chiefs from their specific clans and in the process of representing the hood are reaping the fruits of their representation and neglecting the hood. Because of this perceived “cultural representation” they are beginning to speak on behalf of the hood, not only for their clan, such is not the principles of the hood. On the other hand, the modern system is not that innocent either as it pimps the hood for political gains.

A poem by Hermana Ramarui titled, “Palauan Culture” challenges some of the notions about both the modern and traditional systems.


Maintain it, they say. I say, please tell me.

What is Palauan culture? Palauan culture is a state of being.

It is people living and growing. Palauan culture is alive.

It is now, not yesterday nor before. Palauan culture of yesterday is dea[d].

Because it runs short of the needs of today, of Palauan people who live today.

These people are culture. Treat the past as it is supposed to be our folly.

Is that we try to recreate by trying to duplicate the impractical past,

whose songs are out of tune.

 If Hermana is correct, and to some extent she does have a point of the Palauan culture as a “state of being”, then you can understand what is going on in the hood. There is a whole lot of prostitution and a lot of pimping going on. On the contrary, the Palauan culture is a “state of being” that is guided by the principles of active fluidity to accommodate any time and situations as long as, it is genderly biased, matrilineal.

The woes brought on the Chiefhood are self attained through the attempt to emulate and allow the modern system to decide on it appropriateness, such as in the modern juri prudence. It is also self-imposed because of the greed that surrounds the very issue of hood representation. But then again, that is the state of affairs in the hood. There is the competition about who shall prostitute and who shall pimp and such is the  “state of being”, the Palauan culture in evolution.


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