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President Obama’s Speech Before Makana Sang His “Occupy With Aloha” Protest Song at the APEC World Leaders Dinner

This is the speech that President Obama gave at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki shortly before Makana Cameron got on stage in front of the world leaders and sang his song about “Occupy with Aloha” (Note bold paragraph I emphasized).

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, everybody.  To all the leaders who are representing their countries here at APEC, I hope you’ve had a wonderful stay so far, and hope you had a wonderful dinner.  To members of the delegation, welcome.

Two years ago, when I was in Singapore and it was announced that we would be hosting the APEC Summit here in Honolulu, I promised that you would all have to wear aloha shirts or grass skirts.  (Laughter.)  But I was persuaded by our team to perhaps break tradition, and so we have not required you to wear your aloha shirts, although I understand that a few of you have tried them on for size, and we may yet see you in them in the next several days.

But one tradition that we did not want to break is the tradition of the luau.  Here in Hawaii, there is a traditional gathering that we call luau, and it’s basically an excuse for a good party, and it’s used for every occasion.  We have birthday luaus and graduation luaus.  And now we have APEC luaus.  (Applause.)  And there is — somebody is ready to party already.  (Laughter.)

We have music.  We have song.  We have celebration.  And we have hula dancing.  And Michelle does not think I’m a very good dancer, so I will not be performing this evening.  (Laughter.)  But I think we will have some wonderful examples of traditional Polynesian dance and music and song.  And it will capture, I think, the extraordinary spirit of these islands, but also capture, I think, the spirit in which I hope we proceed in our important work during the course of this APEC Summit.

We are bound together by an ocean.  We are bound together by a common belief and a common concern for our people — their aspirations, their hopes, their dreams.  And so I hope that all of you feel the extraordinary spirit of Hawaii and very much look forward to a wonderful set of meetings tomorrow.

So, with that, please enjoy. 

Makana Occupies APEC World Leaders Dinner… With Aloha

I’ve asked Makana Cameron to respond to some questions I posed to him about his protest song that he sang in front of the APEC 2011 World Leaders last nght… and if he is even as close to tired as I am… I don’t expect him to return my answers anytime soon.

Makana Cameron Occupy With Aloha

Makana Cameron "Occupy With Aloha" at the APEC 2011 World Leaders Dinner

In the meantime… the following video is going viral and when I have his direct comments posed to the questions I asked… I will post them later.

I find it interesting that they weren’t allowing filming with phones at the time considering the day before I was taking video and pictures of the luncheon with the world leaders.

Here is the actual video taken on 11.12.11 in Honolulu on the grounds of the highly secured Hale Koa military hotel and facility in Waikiki:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/H-M07v8N_eU]

Makana writes:

My guitar tech shot this with a camera phone during my performance for the World Leaders Dinner at APEC, which was hosted by the First Family.

He had to be extremely discreet as Secret Service had warned those on site that any phones used to capture photography or video would be confiscated. Since he has a guitar tuner app on the phone we were able to justify having it out, but grabbing video was not easy. We were under constant surveillance. Personally I like to have video of every performance. It’s my art and my right.

About an hour into my set of generally ambient guitar music and Hawaiian tunes, I felt inspired to share some songs that resonated with the significance of the occasion.

I sang a few verses from “Kaulana Na Pua” (a famous Hawaiian protest song in honor of the anniversary of our Queen’s passing), then segued into Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”, Sting’s “Fragile”, and finally my newest song “We Are The Many”.

My goal was not to disturb the guests in an offensive fashion but rather to subliminally fill their ears and the entire dinner atmosphere with a message that might be more effectively received in a subconscious manner. I sweetly sang lines like “You enforce your monopolies with guns/ While sacrificing our daughters and sons/ But certain things belong to everyone/ Your thievery has left the people none”. The event protocol was such that everyone there kept their expressions quite muffled. Now and then I would get strange, befuddled stares from heads of state. It was a very quiet room with no waiters; only myself, the sound techs, and the leaders of almost half the world’s population.

If I had chosen to disrupt the dinner and force my message I would have been stopped short. I instead chose to deliver an extremely potent message in a polite manner for a prolonged interval.

I dedicate this action to those who would speak truth to power but were not allowed the opportunity.

Me ka ha’aha’a,

Makana

Here is the full video of the song that he sang that he uploaded a few days before the APEC 2011 Concert:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/xq3BYw4xjxE]