Solomon Islanders have recorded much of their history – a term which refers both to the events of the past and to ways of viewing those events – in a rich oral tradition, and in a variety of art forms. But hitherto few of them have written about it. Most of the writing about the Solomon Islands has been done by foreigners, araikwao.
Ples Blong Iumi is an important exception. The authors are Solomon Islanders. Academically trained and drawing on a wide range of sources (from archaeology to archives, and including oral tradition), they present a survey of their people’s history that is well-informed, wide-ranging and up-to-date; and at once critical yet sympathetic.
Significant as a contribution to an incipient national literature and as a work of scholarly reference, Ples Blong Iumi is also important as an expression of a new political identity. Solomon Islands became an independent nation in 1978. It is fitting, and not before time, therefore, that its own writers should now present the story of their own nation, for the enlightenment of their own people – and for that of the wider audience beyond the Solomons.