Strong Is She
“Koʻu noho mihi ʻana, a paʻahao ʻia ʻO ʻoe kuʻu lama, kou nani koʻu koʻo. I live in sorrow, imprisoned, you are my light, your glory, my support.” This exquisite and boldly written line reminds us of our beloved and cherished mōʻī wahine, our queen, Liliuʻokalani, who showed a true embodiment of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi as a powerful and inspirational female leader. She was devoted to the people of her lāhui and risked her life for their own. During the many arduous times, she was still a remarkably strong alakaʻi lawelawe or servant leader.
Born Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walani Wewehi Kamakaʻeha, Liliʻu was an amazing young girl.
Being the hanai daughter of both chief Abner Paki and chieftess Laura Konia, Liliʻu had the amazing opportunity to attend a missionary-run Royal School. Here she had learned to speak fluent English and excelled in her education. She also received musical training and retained her interest in music and poetry, creating over 160 songs. It was here that she had started to become an excellent leader and example for her people.
During her years as a princess, Liliʻu’s younger brother, William Pitt Leleiohoku had passed on. Although this was a sad time for Liliʻu she fulfilled her brother’s work and became Kalakaua’s heir apparent. In the years that followed, Liliʻu had done many things to set the foundations for her future, working on her efforts to establish Hawaiian schools and serving as a regent for Kalakaua’s world tour. Then in January of 1891, Kalakaua had also passed. Liliʻu was devastated by the death of her brother and sorrowful for her brother’s passing. But, she took her place on the throne and became the first Queen of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. As queen she had focused on the needs of her people, campaigning to restore and renew all that was lost, reforming the economy of Hawaiʻi, and establishing new voting rights. She took immediate action and became a strong leader through the most critical times for her people.
When missionaries and foreigners arrived, Liliʻuokalani had a rough challenge as queen. As the Committee of Safety planned Hawaiʻi’s annexation, Liliʻu stood strong and firm. People of Hawaiʻi protested against the committee due to their strong love for the queen. But their efforts could not compare. In 1893, Liliʻu was officially put under house arrest and imprisoned in her own palace. But she was very strong and did not want any bloodshed for her. After eight months of being imprisoned, Liliʻu had surrendered in 1895 to the United States of America. Nothing had prepared her for the crisis she faced as a queen but she persisted through it all. She believed so deeply in what she thought was right but was dethroned for what others thought was wrong.
Liliʻu then lived out her last days at Washington Place until her passing on November 11, of 1917.
Although she may not be with us today, she still lives on within us through the Liliʻuokalani trust, in which benefits many orphans and children in poverty through services and collaborations. She will always remain in our hearts and minds as our astounding queen.
To our beloved queen, stay strong.