BIKINI: Land of many coconuts
We will go believing that everything is in the hands of God. — King Juda, then the leader of the Bikinian people
Bikini Atoll was the site of a series of 23 nuclear detonations by the United States between 1946 and 1958. One of the best resources about this era is the book For the Good of Mankind by former Bikini Liaison Officer Jack Niedenthal. Follows is a brief excerpt from the book:
In February of 1946 Commodore Ben H. Wyatt, the military governor of the Marshalls, traveled to Bikini. On a Sunday after church, he assembled the Bikinians to ask if they would be willing to leave their atoll temporarily so that the United States could begin testing atomic bombs for “the good of mankind and to end all world wars.” King Juda, then the leader of the Bikinian people, stood up after much confused and sorrowful deliberation among his people, and announced, “We will go believing that everything is in the hands of God.”
While the 167 Bikinians were getting ready for their exodus, preparations for the U.S. nuclear testing program advanced rapidly. Some 242 naval ships, 156 aircraft, 25,000 radiation recording devices and the Navy’s 5,400 experimental rats, goats and pigs soon began to arrive for the tests. Over 42,000 U.S. military and civilian personnel were involved in the testing program at Bikini.
The nuclear legacy of the Bikinians began in March of 1946 when they were first removed from their islands in preparation for Operation Crossroads. The history of the Bikinian people from that day has been a story of their struggle to understand scientific concepts as they relate to their islands, as well as the day-to-day problems of finding food, raising families and maintaining their culture amidst the progression of events set in motion by the Cold War that have been for the most part out of their control.
Luc Callebaut and Jackie Lee of the Yacht Sloepmouche kindly gave me permission to include his videos on my site. Komol Luc and Jackie!
THE SHARKS OF BIKINI
Each year Discovery Channel holds Shark Week, a week-long TV programming block which features shark-based programming. In 2016, one of the featured shows was Nuclear Sharks, which was mostly filmed at Bikini Atoll.
Written in 1946 by Lore Kessibuki (1914-1994)
No longer can I stay; it’s true.
No longer can I live in peace and harmony.
No longer can I rest on my sleeping mat and pillow
Because of my island and the life I once knew there.
The thought is overwhelming
Rendering me helpless and in great despair.
My spirit leaves, drifting around and far away
Where it becomes caught in a current of immense power –
And only then do I find tranquility.
The Flag of the People of Bikini Atoll
The 23 white stars in the field of blue in the upper left hand corner of the flag represent the islands of Bikini Atoll.
The three black stars in the upper right of the flag represent the three islands that were vaporized by the March 1, 1954, 15 megaton hydrogen bomb blast, code named Bravo.
The two black stars in the lower right hand corner represent where the Bikinians live now, Kili Island, 425 miles to the south of Bikini Atoll, and Ejit Island of Majuro Atoll. These two stars are symbolically far away from Bikini’s stars on the flag as the islands are in real life (both in distance and quality of life).
The Marshallese words running across the bottom of the flag, “MEN OTEMJEJ REJ ILO BEIN ANIJ” [Translation: “Everything is in the hands of God.”], represent the words spoken in 1946 by the Bikinian leader, Juda, to U.S. Commodore Ben Wyatt when the American went to Bikini to ask the islanders–on a Sunday after church–to give up their islands for the ‘good of all mankind’ so that the U.S. could test nuclear weapons.
The close resemblance of the Bikinian’s flag to the flag of the United States is to remind the people and the government of America that a great debt is still owed by them to the people of Bikini.