New Reviews, Interviews & Updates
An Ambassador of Protest
An “uplifting story” about a Marshall Islander who was “an ambassador of protest from the indigenous peoples whose lands were ... used for nuclear tests,” writes Jonathan Frerichs in a review of Don't Ever Whisper published in The Ecumenical Review, a publication of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Vol. 65, Issue 4, December 2013.
Frerichs' review describes Keju as “a risk-taker for the causes she believed in ... by turns an anti-nuclear advocate, a public health pioneer, a champion of women and of youth, a change agent for her own people and a bridge-builder to the outside world.”
He also says Darlene's speech during a Pacific churches' presentation “helped shape” the World Council of Churches Assembly in Vancouver, Canada in 1983, providing islanders with “a global platform to expose some of the consequences of US nuclear detonations in their region.”
Darlene grew up on Wotje, one of many atolls downwind of the 67 Bikini and Enewetak nuclear tests where, as Frerichs notes, “evidence of contamination was strong.” But US authorities have insisted these islands were not contaminated by nuclear test fallout. Darlene, he observes, became the voice of affected people on the so-called “unexposed” islands. “Using US government documents declassified after Keju's death, Johnson shows that her grassroots assessments of health threats were justified,” the author writes.
An Inspirational Story
“A heartwarming and inspirational story,” says reviewer Anna C. in her short review of Don't Ever Whisper posted on the Don’t Ever Whisper book page on Amazon.com on January 17.
She writes in her review: “I don't normally do reviews but I really wanted to share my appreciation for coming across the book in the Marshall islands. This is not just a really interesting read about an incredible lady, but also gives good historical information about the nuclear testing on Bikini and other outer island atolls. I thoroughly recommend you read this book if you are traveling to the Marshalls or similarly if you are interested in health development work.”
An Intimate Perspective
“This biography of anti-nuclear campaigner and health worker Darlene Keju is written by her husband, which gives him a very direct and intimate perspective on her life,” writes Helen Varley in a review posted in www.goodreads.com, November 12, 2013. “However he does not get too drawn into the personal, focusing instead on her dedicated work to improve the health of the Marshallese people, and her quite incredible initiation and establishment of a hugely successful youth health programme using traditional performing arts.
“There is an incredible amount of detail about the political and bureaucratic activities around her work, but much of this has been relegated to the endnotes which makes it easier to read — if you're interested in the detail it's there but you can also choose to skip it. This book will be relevant for anyone with an interest in Pacific health issues, nuclear issues, youth health programmes, indigenous campaigners, Pacific culture and more.
“It's important documentation of a courageous woman who made a profound impact during her too-short life.”
A Poignant Reminder
“While some Americans have heard of Bikini Atoll, few are aware that the United States colonized the Marshall Islands or left behind such devastation,” writes Chad Blair in Civil Beat, a Honolulu-based news website. “Unless Americans live in communities where relatively large numbers of Micronesians have settled — such as in parts of Arkansas, Oregon and Hawaii — they have had few obvious reasons to learn more.
“And a new book, Don't Ever Whisper: Darlene Keju, Pacific Health Pioneer, Champion for Nuclear Survival, is unlikely to change that, which is too bad. The self-published book, which is available on Amazon (in paperback and on the Kindle), deserves a wider audience ... Not only does it tell the remarkable story of an extraordinary Marshallese woman who overcame cultural inhibitions to speak out against the testing. It offers a poignant reminder about the radioactive fallout that was created in Hawaii's own backyard.”
Read the entire article here.
Pacific Person of the Year
Darlene was recognized by Islands Business Magazine (published in Fiji) as its Person of the Year for 2013. “Islands Business has chosen Darlene Keju-Johnson as its 2013 Pacific Person of the Year,” says the introduction to the article about Darlene, “in recognition of her combination of fearless advocacy with island-style innovation that isn’t ‘merely relevant’ in 2013. Seventeen years after her death in 1996, her words and actions continue to speak to key issues confronting Pacific islanders today: nuclear legacies around the Pacific from weapons testing and accidents such as the ongoing Fukushima nuclear power plant radiation spills into the Pacific; how to design and implement effective community health and development programs; and how people from small islands can engage the outside world from a position of strength.”
Read the full text of the Islands Business cover story for the December 2013 edition.
Hawaii Public Radio
Hawaii Public Radio broadcast a short program on December 6, 2013 about Darlene, Don't Ever Whisper, and the nuclear legacy in the Marshall Islands. Listen here.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
A newly released Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) TV report calls Darlene Keju the "unforgettable voice" of the Marshall Islands. Watch the video produced by ABC's Sean Dorney, who visited Majuro in September for the Pacific Islands Forum. Watch the Full Interview.
More Reviews, Interviews & Updates
Giff speaking to the OSU class on November 13, 2013, with
Prof. Hamblin at the back. Photo: Mina Carson.
Talk at Oregon State University
Oregon State University Prof. Jacob Darwin Hamblin invited Don't Ever Whisper author Giff Johnson to talk to his class about nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands, Darlene Keju, and the book. See Prof. Hamblin's blog for more information: http://jacobdarwinhamblin.com/2013/11/14/dont-ever-whisper/
Book Review by Visiting Assistant Professor Lauren Hirshberg, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
Don't Ever Whisper was recently reviewed by Visiting Assistant Professor Lauren Hirshberg, from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in the Island Studies Journal.
As a young girl living on Ebeye, Darlene wondered why the Marshallese had to wear badges to go onto Kwajalein and why the Marshallese could not go [to Kwajalein] with 'ribelles' (Americans)...Darlene’s curiosity about Kwajalein’s segregation policies as a child shifted to devastation as a young adult after losing her sister to a high-risk labor turned deadly by Ebeye’s inadequate hospital facilities compounded by the segregation barrier preventing immediate care in Kwajalein’s superior facilities three miles away. Johnson traces Darlene’s historic path towards becoming an early voice on a global stage, raising awareness about U.S. colonial neglect for Ebeye and discriminatory conditions on Kwajalein, and the legacy of death, destruction and illness facing Marshallese exposed to radiation during the U.S. nuclear testing campaign...While I can imagine the book’s density and length as a barrier for some readers, I very much appreciated the layers of depth Johnson provided to familiarize readers with Darlene’s character. In fact it is this richness of detail, the intimate portrait of Darlene’s complexity, grace and humanity, that sets this work apart.
Read Professor Hisberg's entire review online here (pages 329-331).
Visit to Linus Pauling Middle School
Linus Pauling Middle School students heard about nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands, Darlene Keju, and her advocacy work for youth. Principal Eric Beasley invited Giff to speak to students during their lunch break while Giff was on a speaking tour in Oregon in November, 2013. The connection between Dr. Pauling and Darlene — two outspoken critics of the U.S. government's atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands — gave the conversation with students at this school additional meaning.
Read a story in the Corvallis Gazette-Times about the talk at Linus Pauling Middle School here.
Giff speaks to students at Linus Pauling Middle School in Corvallis, Oregon as Corvallis Gazette-Times reporter Anthony Rimel takes photos. Photo: Mina Carson
Giff with students at Linus Pauling Middle School in Corvallis, Oregon.
Giff with students at Linus Pauling Middle School in Corvallis, Oregon.
Don't Ever Whisper now in 'Lucky Dragon Museum' in Tokyo
Japan Ambassador to the Marshall Islands Kazuhiko Anzai visited the Daigo Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon No. 5) Museum recently along with a delegation from the Marshall Islands. The museum recognizes the Lucky Dragon fishing vessel that was nearby Bikini on March 1, 1954 and was caught in a snowstorm of radioactive fallout from the Bravo hydrogen bomb test. Though the museum is owned by the Metropolitan Government of Tokyo, it is managed by "Daigo Fukuryu Maru Foundation," a non-profit organization established to preserve the ship and advocate the banning of nuclear weapons.
During the visit to the museum, Ambassador Anzai (right) delivered a copy of the book "Don't Ever Whisper" to Mr. Shoichiro Kawasaki, President of Daigo Fukuryu Maru Foundation and Professor Emeritus (Theoretical Physics) of Chiba University of Japan. Thanks go to Ambassador Anzai for strengthening Marshall Islands-Japan links on this important nuclear testing issue of mutual concern.
Pacific Media Center (New Zealand) Book Review
The New Zealand-based Pacific Media Center has published a review of Don't Ever Whisper by Celine Kearney, president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in New Zealand. Read the Full Review.
Don’t Ever Whisper is also a case study of how a fiercely committed, energetic and optimistic young woman developed a group of youth health workers, Youth to Youth in Health (YTYIH), part of the Ministry of Health’s health promotion programme, working as peer educators on inner and outer islands. The philosophy of health promotion that Darlene developed with her team was multifaceted. It nurtured traditional Marshallese culture and later income generation through traditional crafts and growing and harvesting food, to create sustainable livelihoods.
United Methodist Church Book Review
The United Methodist Church in the United States published a review of Don't Ever Whisper, written by Rev. B. David Williams. In his review, he writes about being at the World Council of Churches Assembly in 1983 when Darlene astounded the delegates with her talk about nuclear testing and the U.S. Army’s missile testing range at Kwajalein.
It was my privilege to sit behind her on that stage with the Pacific Island delegates on colorful pandanus mats,” writes Rev. Williams. He also adds: "It’s very late for advocacy, but that’s a poor excuse for inaction. The response of the churches from the late 1940s through the 1970s was largely limited to a ‘comforting’ role, but they mobilized vigorously in the 1980s." Read the Full Review.
Xavier High School Picks Up "Don't Ever Whisper"
Xavier High School in Chuuk State, Federated States of Micronesia, has ordered over 50 copies of Don’t Ever Whisper to use in the classroom and in the Micronesian Seminar library. Xavier Director Fr. Richard McAuliff, SJ, placed the order in August, and told me about his plan for using the biography:
I was pondering how best to get our students involved in it (Don’t Ever Whisper). My pondering went so far as asking myself if I should have the female students read it since Darlene is a great role model for girls. Then I asked myself, ‘Should I have the Marshallese community read it, since Darlene is a great role model for Marshallese?’ Then I decided no let's have everyone read it, class by class, since Darlene is a great role model for all Micronesians. So I thought, the best way is through our Pacific Studies course, where we are always searching for heroes and role-models.
Xavier is a Western Association of Schools and Colleges’ accredited institution that is operated by the Jesuits. It educates students from throughout the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands.
Q/A at University of Hawaii, November 1, 2013
“America’s Nuclear Test Legacy: Still an Issue for the Marshall Islands,” a talk and question/answer session by Giff Johnson sponsored by the University of Hawaii Center for Pacific Island Studies, Friday, November 1, 2013, 12:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m., John Burns Hall (room TBD). The talk will focus on the current nuclear situation in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. It will highlight formerly secret US government documents about its nuclear testing program and how these alter the "official" version of the Bravo hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll in 1954. The author will also address recent developments concerning the nuclear issue from the Pacific Islands Forum held in Majuro, a UN Special Rapporteur's report on the US nuclear testing legacy, and other issues in the Marshall Islands.