Sunday, January 10, 2010

Journey Back in Time - Fijian Tale from Lutunasobasoba - Paula Tagaivetaua

Sunday, January 10, 2010

IT is hard to explain how some roots get connected in a roundabout way.

They seem to say they are related and that you cannot separate blood.

I continue my trip back in time, to the cradle of Fijian civilisation.

This is another sidebar or preview to the main story I will tell next week.

The road to Ucunivanua follows a ridge from the main road. It snakes its way down to the sea and branches off to Naloto and surrounding villages.

They say it is the tail end of the tualeita, the mountain pathway which our ancestors followed on their migration from Nakauvadra.

The tualeita is a ridge, a lava flow probably from the dinosaur age, which snakes its way from the the roof of Viti Levu down to the sea. Some say it is unbroken.

Along the way some members of the party branched off to other parts of the island but the main party continued to Ucunivanua.

After we were shown the mound when the mataki Burebasaga said Rokomoutu was buried, I asked him where was Lutunasobasoba's grave.

He said Lutunasobasoba did not make it to Ucunivanua.

"He died and was buried somewhere on the tualeita," the mataki said.

Where exactly Lutunasobasoba was buried remains a mystery or secret to this day although there have been theories which point to several likely places he was buried.

Lutunasobasoba was like Moses in the Bible who did not reach the Promised Land, just saw it from a distance.

Where the tualeita ends at Ucunivanua, appears the wakanivugayali – the hard-to-find legendary vine with magic potions which can give the person who finds and cuts it magical powers. The wakanivugayali appears only at Ucunivanua and disappears until it appears in Bua where the Ulumatua landed.

When Tuivanuakula, the youngest son of Rokomoutu won the great race at Baravi o Walu, he was told he could not sit on the throne of his father because there were others older than him and was sent to Lau.

When Tuivanuakula journeyed south to establish his domain, he ended up at Cakaudrove where legend says he went ashore and nobody knew him.

The story goes that he went to a gathering and the local chief was about to drink the customary first bowl of yaqona when suddenly they felt and noticed the presence of someone of high rank in Tuivanuakula.

In Fijian custom, the tanoa faces the person accorded the traditional ceremony and at the head of the tanoa is the sau, a buli – cowrie shell – at the end of a magimagi.

When they saw the stranger, they knew he was not a common person and the order was given for the sau to be reversed, to face the other way and point to Tuivanuakula at the back of the crowd, and he was given the first bowl to drink.

That is why to this day, in Cakaudrove chiefly yaqona ceremonies, the sau faces down and not to the top where the chief sits. To people of Ca'au, it is a reminder of the time they almost bypassed the son of Rokomoutu and let a lesser person drink first.

My tau Eliki said he has been to Ucunivanua several times.

"Keitou na kawa nei Buisavulu," the man from Nukuloa Village in Gau said after reading part one of the trip back in time.

Buisavulu is the only daughter of Lutunasobasoba. She went to Bureta on Ovalau which is in plain view across the sea from Ucunivanua.

Eliki said they had direct links to Ucunivanua through Buisavulu while other parts of Gau were linked to Batiki and Bau. He said on many occasions, they always found it hard to explain the fact that whenever some from their village went adrift in their boat at sea, they always landed at Ucunivanua.

Probably to do with the current or something but it reached the stage when people of Nukuloa and parts of Gau qali to Verata through Buisavulu, did not have to worry about any of their kin from the village going missing at sea because they knew they would eventually land at Ucunivanua.

"Now, when people go fishing and ciri in their boat, we ring Ucunivanua and ask if they have arrived.

"If they say no, we tell them so and so have been adrift for a day or two and to keep a lookout for them," explained the photographer but I have my reservations because for one thing, he is my tau and second, there is this thing they say about people from Gau – lailai na dina.

There is a huge tanoa at Sobasoba, the chiefly residence at Ucunivanua.

The Turaga na Ratu, Ratu Ifereimi Ravoka, said it was carved by people of Kabara – kawa nei Daunisai, the mataisau or woodcarvers by trade. It was brought to Ucunivanua during the time of his father, the late Ratu Ilisoni Ravoka.

Daunisai is one of the sons of Lutunasobasoba.

It takes four men to lift the tanoa and Tu Voka said it takes up to 13 buckets of water to fill it.

The person mixing the grog has to kneel to lose. That's how big it is. I have seen it and drank from it.

Well, so much for now, next Sunday is the main feature about the Roko Tui Dreketi and members of the chiefly household of Lomanikoro going back to their roots, to the yavu nei Romelasiga.

No comments: