In 1980 Kanaka WaiWai, the song-story of Jesus and the rich man, was Hawaii’s number one favorite; and it remains a statement of Hawaii’s aloha in religion and life.
Tourists are told aloha means hello and goodbye, but it has a deeper meaning, as local and long-term residents understand. Aloha means love and inclusiveness. It is part of Hawaii tradition.
The song Kanaka WaiWai is an old, yet eternally new, favorite. It expresses how the path to God is found through love and example. This song is rendered by the famous entertainers of Hawaii, Melveen Leed, the Brothers Kazimero and others. It gives a statement that is universal by its depth and breadth of meaning.
Hawaii’s culture is religiously diverse. That too is a pride of Hawaii. Ask the local person what makes Hawaii special, and the individual will stress how uniquely proud he or she is in that diversity. The song’s popularity crosses racial and religious lines, bringing people to a stunned silence of appreciation in many venues.
The popularity of the song also reflects Hawaii’s expansion by Christian missionaries, with the strong touch of that faith part of its ongoing traditions. Yet Japanese tourists and people from all walks of life enjoy its refrain, for the beauty of harmonious rhythms and verse. It is part of the lifestyle of Hawaii, reflecting the island's hula, its history and its arms that stretch out to include everyone, regardless of race or belief.
The uniqueness of this song has crossed the boundaries of music, bringing it to the mainland through the voice of Gladys Knight. On an Internet site makes that declaration along with the lyrics of the song. Although it is titled Jesu Me Kanaka WaiWai on this website, it is known in brief as Kanaka WaiWai by the local folks, as it is recognized most often by folks who hear it often. In the middle of world confusions, weather emergencies and highlights of folks frustrations, the verse of this song says this, in its English translation:
Greater lust and vanity were mine Lord,
'Til I held your love divine.
Now on my knees I pray,
That I will find a way,
Let me walk through paradise with you.
Ya ho way
On the shore front, at the Outrigger Reef Hotel, one of the local Hawaiian groups plays the song once again as an ordinary part of its show. The group Vaihi presents its rendition, and here it is part of this story to give those who know it, and those who do not, the beauty of Hawaii’s aloha in song.