Pohnpei’s Paramount King passes the mantle of leadership to his brother

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


August 22, 2020

 MG 9967117548444 1240670842938199 7420059991336333607 oMadolenihmw, Pohnpei—On Sunday, August 16, 2020, Pohnpeians were saddened to learn that Isipahu, Nahnmwahrki en Wein Madolenihmw Kerpert Hebel had passed away. 

His brother Herbert Hebel immediately became Isipahu.

His Majesty Kerpert Hebel, of the Depinpahnmei clan had been Wasahi (the next in line for the throne) in 1990 when then Isipahu Salter Salvador Hadley passed away and was the first Nahnmwahrki to have declined the throne, instead passing it to his uncle, Ilton Shelten,. After declining the position he maintained the title of Wasahi. When his uncle passed away, he became Isipahu. He said at that time that he was the Nahnmwahrki to Serve and maintained that philosophy and leadership style until his rule ended.

Kerpert Hebel was born in Wone, Kitti on December 30, 1949.  He attended Elementary School at Christ the King School in Kitti, and Our Lady of Mercy Elementary School in Kolonia.  He attended High School at Pohnpei Agricultural and Trade School in Madolenihmw, where he was extremely active in sports, particularly track and field and volleyball.  He worked at the coconut processing factory owned by Kadalino Sam.  He later worked with the Talent Search Program through the College of Micronesia FSM as the Culture and tradition adviser.

In 2010, Kerpert Hebel travelled for his first time as Isipahu of Madolenihmw. He and a delegation consisting of the Nanmwahrkis of Sokehs, Pingelap, and Kitti traveled to Palau for the 4th Pacific Traditional Leader’s Conference, an association of the traditional leaders of the Micronesian Islands.

Later that year he traveled to Guam and met with the temporary leaders of the organization, which included the Ibedul of Palau who was the Temporary Chair, the Iroij Lapalap Kota Loek of the Republic of Marshall Islands who was the Temporary Treasurer, and the Bruno of Yap State who was the Temporary Secretary of the fledgling organization. Isipahu was the Temporary Vice Chair.  During that meeting the temporary officers passed the bylaws of the Pacific Traditional Leader’s Conference and were chartered in Guam, which is a US corporate charter.  Isipahu and all of the temporary officers became the officers of the newly chartered organization.  Isipahu maintained the position of Vice Chairman of the organization throughout the remainder of his reign.

Early on in his reign, Pohnpei’s traditional leaders elected him as the Chair of Mwoalen Wahu Ileile en wein Pohnpei (Traditional Leadership Council of Pohnpei State).

Kerpert Hebel was outspoken on many issues on behalf of the people of Pohnpei. He spoke strongly against the establishment of a hotel and casino in Pohnpei. He banned the use of betelnut at traditional

gatherings in Madolenihmw. He assisted the Island Food Community of Pohnpei on local food initiatives.

As the guardian of Nan Madol, he tirelessly worked with the National Government and international organizations to see Nan Madol ascribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and had been working on the development of Pohnpei central cultural asset when his reign was cut short by mortality.

Kerpert Hebel’s brother, Herbert Hebel is now Isipahu, Nahnmwahrki en Wein Madolenihmw. Like his brother Herbert Hebel was born in Wone, Kitti.  He attended Wone Elementary School, Pohnpei Island Central School, and the College of Micronesia FSM where he attained an Associates Degree in Education.

He worked early on after graduation as a Head Start classroom teacher at Wone Elementary School. He later became an Elementary School classroom teacher before taking the test for the United States Armed Forces and serving in the United States Navy. He said that he joined the U.S. Armed Forces as a way of thanking the United States for saving his parent’s life when they liberated Pohnpei from Japanese occupation.

Since he had the title of Lempwei Lapalap in Madolenihmw, he first asked the permission of then Isipahu Salter Salvador Hadley which he gave. He entered the US Navy on October 13, 1987 and served for four years aboard the USS Constellation, a CV 64 class aircraft carrier.  He excelled in the Navy and after a few months of service was named Sailor of the Month, but since he was not a U.S. citizen, he could advance no higher.  His active duty status ended on October 13, 1991 at which time he relocated to Kansas City, Missouri. He remained on inactive reserve for another four years.

During the time of his reserve status, then Isipahu Ilton Shelten stripped all traditional titles from Madolenihmw title holders who did not live in Pohnpei.

His Majesty Herbert Hebel remained in Kansas City, Missouri for many years where he worked as court translator in the Pohnpeian language and also as a Certified Nurses Aid at a hospital there.  He returned to Pohnpei last year after his nephew, Sinter Iko passed the title of Wasahi to him.

Eneriko Paulus became the Wasahi of Madolenihmw when Herbert Hebel ascended to the throne.

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