By Sitiveni Rabuka Fiji Times - Sunday, February 25, 2007
Ni sa Bula! It is Saturday and a great day here in Savusavu and the whole of Vanua Levu.
People are out making the best of the fine day out here.
Men looking over their plantations to see if the standing crop will survive the effects of the heavy rains and strong winds of the past fortnight, or whether they will have to be uprooted for the usable to be used and the damaged, cleared for new ones to be planted.
The Soqosoqo Vakamarama of Cakaudrove had a soli day at the Cakaudrove Provincial Compound at Yaroi yesterday to collect money as the women's contribution towards the Province's Scholarship fund.
A few tikina sent in their request to be excused as they tried to clear the debris of the flash floods (I don't know why we call them flash floods we knew they were going to come when we blocked the natural waterways by cutting trees, building roads and houses where water used to run etc.!) that damaged houses and villages in parts of Vaturova, Tawake and Saqani.
Undeterred by the decision of those in the villages, those women from Vaturova and Tawake on the good roads side of the damaged road came along, and the Turaga ni Vanua of Saqani also left behind those that needed to work and brought the rest of the women to the soli because his daughter in law is of the Ai Sokula household and he did not want to embarrass her when the ladies of the Ai Sokula called for the soli, that his daughter-in-law would be seen to be disrespectful to her Naus by not coming to the soli.
It was a beautiful day and the women came in their different coloured muumuus and jabas and the few Turaga ni Vanua that came sat and drank yaqona in support of their ladies at the Vakatunuloa.
The singing was beautiful and weather great perhaps made greater by the company and the fact that we had just come out of a bad rainy and windy spell here in Vanua Levu.
The passersby might have wondered why so many ladies and some men spent so much time most of the day, sitting, singing and some drinking yaqona.
I told those few men I was with that the Cakaudrove Provincial Scholarship fund is for the good of Fiji not just the recipients, their families or Cakaudrove.
When I was in Secondary School at Queen Victoria School, all boys from Cakaudrove received $27 which was the fees for one term at that school at that time. The fee for the whole year was $81 probably the highest of all the schools of that era.
Cakaudrove students at Queen Victoria School, Ratu Kadavulevu School, Adi Cakobau School and Navuso Agricultural School were the original beneficiaries of the provincial scholarship, and those that went to Ballantine Memorial School, and Lelean Memorial School later also qualified for the scholarship.
I said Fiji benefited because the sons and daughters of Cakaudrove that were helped through their secondary school education by the scholarship later became great servants of Fiji, some distinguishing themselves alongside the distinguished sons and daughters of the other provinces and Rotuma and the other races capable of holding their own among the elite of our nation.
Those a few years ahead of me and those of my age group whom I can remember include my generation of the Lalabalavu, Ganilau, Kubuabola, Lesuma children, Ratu Inoke Vakataraisulu Tabualevu a great rugby and cricketing son of Cakaudrove, the late Ratu Jone Filipe Radrodro, a long time permanent secretary in the civil service of our country, Sekonaia Tui Mailekai, a long time head of the former Inland Revenue Department and founding head of the new Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority and his wife Ulamila, Doctor Laisa Naivalulevu, a former national table tennis gold medalist, the late Deputy Commissioner of Police Aseri Tagicakiverata, the ever-so-humble late Savenaca Siwatibau, the Gonelevu brothers Vili and Tomasi of Vanuavou, Vaturova, former senator Ratu Seru Buliruarua, the recently dismissed CEO's Sakiusa Rabuka and Anasa Vocea of Drekeniwai, Navatu, our own Roko Tui Cakaudrove, Waisele Wainiqolo of Korocau, Cakaudrove, who also served as Roko Tui in Namosi and Ba before coming to serve in his own Province, and I will also mention my two sisters one recently retired as a long time Head Teacher at Namaka, Nadi and the other still at the Institute of Applied Sciences in the Laucala Campus of USP.
We all owe so much to those leaders of our vanua who introduced the scholarship.
So to those who might have wondered why we spent so much time at Yaroi on Friday, I can say we were sacrificing one day to raise money for our provincial scholarship that will fund the further education of our sons and daughters to better prepare them to be servants of our country.
My sincere thanks to the two ladies of the Ai Sokula household who came to our villages at the behest of our Paramount Chief, Na Turaga Bale na Tui Cakau, to inspire our women to take up this great challenge and help our province support our children to help Fiji.
Vinaka Di Mitimiti, vinaka Di Kavu.
And it was great to see my wife among so many ladies from all the other thirteen provinces and Rotuma the "marama vakawati mai" supporting their adopting province.
Perhaps the Cakaudrove Scholarship is just as much a national investment as a provincial one.