About the Project
“Shaka, the Power of Hamana” started as a passing curiosity. Then a turning point: a friend introduced me to Kupuna (elders) in La‘ie who knew the original Shaka Man. It turns out that the Kupuna had kept the story secret for almost a century. Why? They didn’t want it told incorrectly or commercialized. But given their advancing age and a world in need, they decided it was time to share the story.
Oral History from La’ie
In May 2019, our film crew visited La’ie, Oahu to record oral history from Kupuna who as young children, learned to fish and the lessons of life from Hamana Kalili, the original Shaka Man. Hamana was an epic character. A Kupuna of Kupuna. And despite a debilitating handicap, he became the very embodiment of wisdom, heroism and living aloha. Indeed, Hamana lived up to his name, Ha meaning, “breath of life” and Mana meaning, “personal power.”
Making Something Out of Nothing
Hamana’s story illustrates how we are all part of a great lineage of sacrifice and giving. Through him, we learned that life was very difficult in early Hawai’i. Resources were scarce. Work was hard. Living was dangerous. Yet despite these hardships, Hawaiians created a harmonious paradise from almost nothing for countless generations to enjoy.
Historically, Hawaiians greeted each other by sharing ha, or breath. This exchange is accomplishes by two people pressing together the bridge of their noses then inhaling together. It’s a greeting that welcomes another into your space by sharing the breath of life, which is sacred to the culture. Ancient Hawaiians recognized that their breath was the key to good health and believed it possessed mana (spiritual power). In fact, before an elderly person died, he/she often passed down wisdom to a chosen successor by sharing ha in this fashion. Interestingly, while many think “Hamana” is a name of Japanese origin, with a hypen, the name “Ha-mana” as a Hawaiian name becomes entirely clear and particularly impactful in this story’s context.
A Multi-Cultural Story
While Hamana set the tone for the meaning behind the Shaka, the story twists and turns beyond his years. For over half a century after his passing, cultures from around the world deepened the meaning and context on how to use the Shaka. In fact, the word “Shaka” is a Japanese word with roots in the first buddha in Japan called “Shakyamuni.” Thus, this project became a global quest to record the recipe behind this melting pot success.
C19 Pandemic Births Democratized Filmmaking
Like all quests, this story continues to take unexpected twists and turns. The most recent was in March, 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered production. A few months later, we realized that film, tv, music and other artists were flatly out of work due to C19 shutdowns. Our response was to think it forward, Shaka-style, and find a go-for-it solution. The result: a new democratized approach to filmmaking where hundreds of Hawaii’s people will take part in telling the story of the Shaka. This starts with musicians creating a full soundtrack, followed by motion picture artists submitting content for music montage sequences, CG and motion graphics artists designing titles and animations, and graphic designers creating logo merchandise to help promote the film. Participants whose content is used in the film will receive stipends and credits.
Looking Forward to a Bright Future
This journey has already revealed the power and application of the Shaka. And today more than ever, the world needs the secrets to resourcefulness, cooperation and living with aloha. We’re honored to be entrusted with this story and we’re in with both feet. We hope you too will dive into our growing Shaka pool with an attitude of “Fear Not, Go for It!”
~ Steve Sue, Bizgenics, September 3, 2019, updated August 31, 2020
“Shaka, the Power of Mana” is produced by Bizgenics Foundation, a Hawaii-based 501(C)(3) nonprofit specializing in creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship programs to help underserved youth and others.
Our Mission: Empower all people to discover unique personal skills and learn positive social values to catalyze a bright future.