Karleen C. Chinen

This year’s Okinawan Festival will likely go off without a hitch — just like the 33 before it. Sure, there’ll be different performers from Okinawa, and new performing arts students nervously, but proudly, showing off what they have learned from their sensei.

But, something . . . make that someone . . . will be missing this year — “Okinawan mother” Jane Sakima, who passed away on July 26 at the age of 93. Many in the Uchinanchu community knew of Jane as the wife of the late Akira Sakima, who wore his Kalihi hog farmer roots proudly on his sleeve. But Akira was much more: He worked for a small bank for a time, was among the 10 men who took 700 milking goats to Okinawa in 1949 to provide nourishment for Okinawans on the war-ravaged island following the Battle of Okinawa. He was a church-goer, represented Kalihi in the state House of Representatives, was elected a Board of Education member, served as president of the HUOA when the organization’s name was the United Okinawan Association of Hawai‘i, was a Kalihi YMCA and Kokua Kalihi Valley board member — the list goes on, and on, and on. Akira was a community servant in the purest sense of the word.

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