Timothy Detudamo

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Timothy Detudamo (died 11 April 1953) was a Nauruan politician and linguist. The father of Buraro Detudamo, he is known as the founder of modern Nauruan society and served as Head Chief from 1931 until his death in 1953.[1]


Born in Uaboe, Detudamo was a pastor in his younger years. In 1917, he travelled with Philip Delaporte, for whom he had been an assistant in creating a Nauruan dictionary, to the United States to help him translate religious scripts to Nauruan. To finance the travel, Detudamo needed US$500, which he raised through donations. He remained in the US until 1921, when he returned to Nauru and became politically active. In 1938, he tried to reform the Nauruan language by making it more understandable for Europeans and Americans. However, his reforms were not widely adopted and today the old orthography continues to be more common. Still, he is considered the most important Nauruan linguist. He spoke five languages: Nauruan, German, English, Marshallese, and Gilbertese.

In 1931 Detudamo was elected Head Chief of the Council of Chief of Nauru and held office until 1942 when Japan occupied the island. During the Japanese occupation he served as Governor until 30 June 1943 when he was deported to Truk Lagoon along with most of the Nauruan population. On 31 January 1946 he returned to Nauru to resume his position of Head Chief.

Following the introduction of a Local Government Council in 1951 Detudamo was elected to the Council from the Denigomodu, Nibok, Uaboe, and Baiti constituency. He was subsequently elected Head Chief by the Council on 18 December 1951.[2]

In 1953 Detudamo died after a long illness, and was succeeded as Head Chief by Raymond Gadabu.[3]


  1. ^ Nauru World Statesmen
  2. ^ Nancy Viviani (1970) Nauru: Phosphate and Political Progress Australian National University Press, p. 105
  3. ^ Viviani, p. 106