Nauru, as my soon to be husband and I knew it in the 1960s, was a paradise. How did it become the failed state it is considered to be today?
Who knows the truth of Nauru?
What sieves out the facts from fiction?
The United Nations Human Rights Council states: Australian Government must evacuate asylum seekers & refugees from camps on Manus & Nauru https://www.hrlc.org.au/news/2017/6/15/australia-must-find-humane-way-forward-for-refugees-on-manus-and-
Hosting Refugees, per 1,000 inhabitants
1 Lebanon (173 ppl)
2 Jordan (89)
3 Nauru (50)
4 Turkey (35)
5 Chad (27)
The history of Nauru and its lost wealth.
Blast from the post:
My earlier blog post about Nauru
This story came to me first, due to a family connection to the people and place that I'll write about. After this connection, there will be a personal and exhilarating experience that connects me to that land and its people. I listen to the oral histories of the people, as I experience their culture. Following that, there are years of reading, fact-checking, and absorbing myself in the place until I know it better than my home.
Now, the story is coming together in my head and I'm considering writing my historical fiction novel of Nauru. I am also seventy now and I was considering an easier lifestyle, of non-fiction writing. In fact, I announced that I'd stopped fiction writing just recently.
What is it - day two since I stopped writing my novel?
Yesterday I was getting text flashes in my brain, as a novel was being typed onto my gray-matter. My brain wanted me to forget my planned break from fiction writing.
Today, I discovered I'd gone into a dreadful relapse. I have ten pages of research notes for a historical novel about the Island of Nauru roughed out. (Reg and I both have personal experience of Nauru.) Now I know, if I wrote that book, it would be the biggest and most emotionally draining project of my life. I'm telling myself to put it away and write something lighter, something easier, a book that would be more popular with readers. Yet, the story of Nauru, written with the benefit of personal experience of the Island's history, would make, for this author at least, a compelling story to write.
I remind myself, as far as readers interests are concerned, Nauru isn't Hawaii, and I'm no James A. Michener. I have begun to read about Michener's life and the discipline required to write such a novel. Nauru, this tiny, island nation, was once so perfect, courageous and beautiful. But, that was before it was 'taken,' not just by one country, but by five, one after another.
I want to go back in time and share a story of the Island and its people, as I knew it, with its Alice Island neighbours, the imported Chinese workforce, and also those who came to plunder it — to buy paradise and cart it away.
To bring that story up-to-date, there is now a story of offshore money laundering by the Russian Mafia and terrorists, the destruction of a culture, and the landscape, and a detention center for asylum seekers, on an island that doesn't even have enough fuel to run its own generators, to power its desalination plant. It is an absolute insanity to place refugees on an island, close to the equator, where the inhabitants cannot keep themselves healthy and then make them ration drinking water. Yes, for many, Nauru is a living hell that has emerged out of a Hammer DeRobert's dream for an independent Nauru. Will I write the story that's in me?
I don't know.
Would it interest you as a reader?
Cheers, Ryn Shell.
A description of James A Michener's writing is: The majority of his books were fictional, lengthy, family-sagas covering the lives of many generations, in particular geographic locales and incorporating solid history. A similar thing could be said for my writing: The books are fictional, family-sagas, but rather than several lengthy books they are broken into shorter books within a series — (as is popular with modern ebook readers) covering the lives of many generations, in particular geographic locales and incorporating solid history. As a part of my research into Nauruan history today, I listened to some Nauruan singing. The lyrics, "F*** America," surprised me but did not shock me. I don't know how American readers would respond to a book about Nauru, but it was clear what Nauruans thought of America.
The paradise that was Nauru is lost. Headlines of today call it the Island from hell. My husband Reg lived there and loved it, almost making his home there permanently, with the Nauruan people. I was awed by the humanity of the first Prime Minister, Hammer DeRobert and his wife Lukala. I knew the first family during a crisis, and during their island nation's push for independence.
I have never admired a woman as much as Lukala DeRobert. There is a personal story, one that would not surprise Nauruans, of an action that Lukala DeRobert took to assist an Alice Islander woman. I know of no western woman capable of the depth of concern for another that Lukala DeRobert had within her heart. It's a story I long to share.