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The Marshall Islands celebrate the first coronation of Chief Iroojlaplap in 50 years

#Marshall #Islands #celebrate #coronation #Chief #Iroojlaplap #years

Thousands attended a lavish ceremony in the Marshall Islands this week that marked the first formal coronation of a top chief in around 50 years.

At the colorful event, which also drew thousands of viewers on social media, Michael Kabua was crowned “iroojlaplap,” or supreme chief, on Thursday night as warriors and guests from the 12 atolls and islands he oversees gathered in a respectful demonstration .

The coronation, held on the small island of Ebeye in Kwajalein Atoll, is known as “Kailoojoj” in Marshallese – a ceremony reserved for only the highest chiefs.

It was the first coronation of the royal family since Kabua’s cousin Iroojlaplap Joba, who died in 1982, ascended the throne in the 1970s.

The blowing of a conch shell heralded each stage of the elaborate ceremony, during which islanders wore traditional headgear and clothing made from woven mats.

The red carpet was also rolled out, with Marshall Islands President David Kabua – Michael’s nephew – and members of his cabinet among the guests.

Michael Kabua took over the title Iroojlaplap after the death of his older brother Imata Kabua in 2019.

“Iroojlaplap Mike is the embodiment of our traditional leaders,” said David Paul, who, like Michael Kabua, represents Kwajalein Atoll in Parliament.

“He believes wholeheartedly about the role culture should play in our everyday lives.”

Paul commended the new supreme chief for his work in helping ensure that the traditional customs system coexisted with modern democracy.

“It shows the maturity of our culture,” he said.

“Even though these systems contrast, they have been fused here.”

Despite being a sovereign state, the Marshall Islands, with a population of just 60,000, depend on the United States for an estimated 40 percent of their budget.

A US military base on Kwajalein, home to one of America’s most advanced missile defense systems, hosted dozens of guests attending the Kailoojoj.

America’s long-term agreement with the Marshall Islands currently pays landowners, including Kabua, over $20 million a year to house the base.

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#Marshall #Islands #celebrate #coronation #Chief #Iroojlaplap #years

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