Observed on the 15th of July each year in Kiribati, Unimwane Day is a holiday on which the male elders of the village are honored. Most of the islands of Kiribati didn’t adhere to a traditional high-chief structure like other islands in the Pacific Ocean do. Instead, the islands of Kiribati were ruled by councils that were made up of Unimwane.
They would decide on important decisions and guide each village’s decisions. Although this structure is mainly a thing of the past, and this holiday is more of a commemorative holiday and not a public one, it’s still observed by many people in Kiribati so that they can honor their elders.
The History Of Unimwane Day
As we said earlier, decisions in villages were guided by a Unimwane Council that met in Mwaneaba (otherwise known as Meeting Houses) to address and debate political, social, and economic issues. Since the elders were considered to be the wisest members of the community, it was felt that they would make the best decision.
Nowadays, the Unimwane system is mainly extinct and most decisions are made by the government and by the country’s court system. However, there is still a Unimwane Association that plays an important role and gives advice on important decisions.
Observing Unimwane Day
This holiday is mainly observed with commemorative events, political speeches, and traditional Kiribati music and dance. This holiday honors the senior male elders of a village, so many people take the time to show them the respect they deserve. Since this isn’t a public holiday, it’s not a day off for the general population and most businesses remain open on this day.