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Makia Malo — Storyteller

Storyteller and Kalaupapa resident Makia Malo had a busy week late last month, promoting the release of his memoir, My Name is Makia: A Memoir of Kalaupapa, co-written with veteran broadcast journalist Pamela Young.

First, Makia and Pamela paid a visit to Pamela's home station, KITV, to talk with morning anchor Jill Kuramoto. Here are a few behind-the-scenes photos (see more at our photo album on Facebook) and watch the news clip here.

Pamela gives Makia some words of encouragement before they go live on-air. Makia's given hundreds of storytelling presentations to the public, but he still was nervous!
Jill Kuramoto, Makia Malo and Pamela Young.
Makia gets a surprise visit from his grand-niece, Alyssa Malo.

A real trooper, Makia got up early again (along with his wonderful friend and caregiver Sheldon, who drove Makia to all his events) to visit the Hawaii News Now station. This time, storyteller Jeff Gere accompanied Makia.

Jeff and Makia talked to morning anchor Tannya Joaquin about the new book and the upcoming book signing event. Makia got a great surprise when his grand-niece, Alyssa, stopped in to say hello! Alyssa works for Hawaii News Now and said she looked up, saw the monitor and said, "That's my uncle!" She rushed over to the studio say hello. Makia is the last of her grandfather's siblings still living.

See the rest of our photos at the full gallery on Facebook and watch the interview here.

Makia Malo, center, with Jeff Gere and Tannya Joaquin.
Pamela Young, Jeff Gere & Makia Malo at the Barnes & Noble book signing event.

Makia's whirlwind of events culminated in the reading and book signing held at Barnes & Noble, Kahala Mall, on September 29. Pamela Young and Jeff Gere read from My Name is Makia; Pamela read a portion of the introduction she wrote for the book, and Jeff read some of the stories Makia had invented, as well as some of the "memory vignettes" from the final section of the book.

Dozens of people of all ages turned out to celebrate with Makia and get a copy of his memoir. Each copy was hand-stamped with Makia's signature (because of the damage Hansen's disease has wreaked on his hands, Makia has extreme difficulty holding a pen. We scanned a copy of his signature and made a large stamp so he could leave his imprint on each copy) and personalized by Pamela, who then added her own signature.

Makia started by saying a few words of appreciation, and paying tribute to those friends and family he had at Kalaupapa who have passed on. Here's a short clip of Makia:


Jeff reads from the final vignette of the book, called "Cemetery Gardens."


A partial transcript of the excerpt Jeff reads from:

There are gardens in the place called Kalaupapa. Gardens of headstones and wooden crosses, sculpted pieces and crypts that lie like pages of an open ledger, whose accounts have never been measured in assets, just liabilities. One life per headstone; one life per cross.

Some of the gardens are clearly marked, enclosed by fences or the occasional low stone wall. There are many signs of those who were buried when the Homestead gave in to political expediency and the entire peninsula became both prison and haven for those with Hansen's disease. Then there are locations of earlier gardens overrun with thickets of Christmas berry, guava, and lantana. These were all but forgotten by the present-day folk. Awareness of them began only when cattle were being chased in and out of these hidden gardens, obvious signs of historic times.

A few of the photos from the signing event (please see the rest in our Facebook photo album).

Copies of "My Name is Makia" at Barnes & Noble.
A friend whispers a special message in Makia's ear.
A standing-room only crowd.
After Makia stamped his name, Pamela personalized each copy for the recipient.