The late Albert Taaviri “Buffalo” Nicholas, a musician and a prison superintendent during this time, initiated the ukulele making project for the inmates to assist them in learning a trade and to earn a little money. The tools used back then were very basic - a bush knife, a hacksaw, and broken glass. Nicholas believed in helping to teach the inmates further skills to assist them earning an income after leaving prison.
Some of the offenders continued with the ukulele making trade and went on to earn a modest income for themselves and their families.
Acknowledging his contribution to music, and the popularity and production of the simple ukulele, Nicholas is one of the five Golden Ukulele Award nominees for the country’s first festival of its kind.
Today, the inmates continue to produce the single and double-stringed ukulele, and at times struggle to keep up with demand. Their ukuleles will be available to purchase at the Golden Ukulele Expo tomorrow at the National Auditorium.
Meanwhile, Minister for Corrective Services, George (Maggie) Angene has been working on providing further support to the inmates to promote rehabilitation.
The inmates received a 40 inch flat screen TV from Don Carlaw of Raro Mart on Friday morning.
Carlaw said he did not hesitate to sponsor the entertainment unit when he was approached by Angene for assistance, as he felt it was a good cause.
“We would prefer people not be here [in prison]. Crime is an issue here and it is largely ignored. If we can’t stop people from ending up here, we can help with their rehabilitation and improve a change in their behaviour.”
Carlaw said businesses are willing to help out to give inmates a second chance, such as through providing employment.
“It would be good for someone like minister Angene to liaise with companies and see who is prepared to employ them,” said Carlaw.
Minister Angene thanked Raro Mart for the gift and said “this can be a way to keep their minds occupied, a distraction to help deter those who are here from reoffending - a way of reform”.
“People also need to realise, people who are here do perform work out in the community and through their wages they are contributing to the country. We are trying to assist with their rehabilitation programme.”
This is the second TV donated to the prison inmates, the first was gifted by former Member of Parliament Teina Bishop.