My Name is Makia: A Storyteller’s Tale of Life in Kalaupapa

We are honored to present My Name is Makia: A Memoir of Kalaupapa by Makia Malo with Pamela Young, the second memoir from a Kalaupapa patient we have released, the first being Henry Nalaielua’s No Footprints in the Sand, published in 2006. We are humbled and honored to share their stories.

Diagnosed with Hansen’s disease at the age of twelve, Makia Malo was exiled to the remote settlement of Kalaupapa on the rugged north coast of the Hawaiian Island of Moloka‘i. Malo lost his hands, his feet and his eyesight over the years, but never the vision or spirit that made him a celebrated Hawaiian storyteller and poet. My Name is Makia shares his inspiring story—of a child of Kalaupapa who grew up to become an award-winning writer, storyteller and instructor at the University of Hawai‘i.

During its century as a virtual prison, more than 8,000 people were exiled to Kalaupapa, until the introduction of sulfone drugs in the 1940s.  Today a dwindling handful—fewer than 20—of patients remain. When his health allows, Malo numbers among them. Otherwise, he resides at Hale Mōhalu hospital in Honolulu.

Few Kalaupapa patients have chosen to share their experiences in as public a manner as Malo, who has maintained a positive outlook despite the harsh realities of his life. “Yes, I wish my life had been different, but still it has been so much better than many of the [other] patients,” he points out.

“I’d be grateful if people would remember all of us, the 8,000-plus who are dead and the handful of us hanging on… We lost so much. I hope in the future people learn from us. This is the lesson: No matter where you are, at what age, life can be hard. Life can take everything away from you in one snap of a finger and it doesn’t do you any good to sit there and whine about it. Take that cane and bang, bang your way around your problems. I have my memories. I have my stories.”

My Name is Makia was crafted by veteran broadcast journalist Pamela Young from years of conversations with Malo combined with earlier attempts at documenting his life, written by himself and edited by his late wife, Ann. Woven throughout his narrative are transcriptions of many of the stories Malo has told to audiences around the world. Some are memories of his childhood. Others, as Young explains, “are myths, some are daydreams, with no beginning, end, or purpose.” She elaborates on the book’s genesis,

“This book is the result of a  simple request Makia made [for a DVD copy of] a news special I produced, documenting thirty years of coverage in Kalaupapa, Belgium, and Rome…to give to his niece Noe ‘so I can leave her something after I go.’ I suggested she would be much happier with her uncle’s memoirs. And so began our weekly meetings at Hale Mōhalu hospital.”

Please join us for a reading and book signing on Saturday, September 29 at Barnes & Noble, Kahala Mall, 1PM. Pamela and Makia’s dear friend, storyteller Jeff Gere, will read from Makia’s book. Makia and Pamela will sign books following the reading.

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Posted on September 12, 2012, in Events, News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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