The vanua of Vuda mourn the loss of a great leader, former President Ratu Iloilovatu
THE Taukei Sawaieke Ratu Tevita Momoedonu has told the Information Ministry that Taveuni's loss became Vuda's gain when the former President and Tui Vuda the late Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda left the garden island to lead the people of Vuda.
Ratu Tevita, in delivering the eulogy of the vanua of Vuda at the Jone Wesele Church at Viseisei Village, related that twice, the Tui Taveuni and his chiefly Nasuva clan, rejected the traditional request for Ratu Iloilo's release from Taveuni.
Ratu Iloilo was born and bred on Taveuni and it wasn't until he was 61-years-old that he joined his father's people in Vuda.
When he was nine-years-old, Ratu Iloilo's mother Adi Melania Ciba was installed as the Tui Taveuni.
When Ratu Iloilo was 16, his father became the Tui Vuda.
"In 1981, it was the decision of the vanua of Vuda for a traditional delegation to go to Taveuni to get Ratu Iloilo to come and live and be written in the Vola ni Kawa Bula of his father's people in Vuda," Ratu Tevita said.
"We went twice and were rejected twice.
"The third time we were accepted and Ratu Iloilo came to live in Viseisei for the first time.
"They didn't want to give him up because he was their blood and was also marked to be the next Tui Taveuni.
"Taveuni's loss is our gain and for that we thank the Tui Taveuni for raising our great leader."
Ratu Iloilo ascended the Vuda throne in 1997 and led the people of Vuda until he passed away at a ripe age of 90.
He was entombed at the chiefly burial ground of Naburenivalu around 2pm after a splendid state funeral that included the 21 gun salute farewell.
1000s attend service and entombment
Maciu Malo Friday, February 18, 2011
Some of the grandchildren of the late Tui Vuda and former president Ratu Josefa Iloilo make their way across the village ground in Veiseisei Village. Picture: Jai Prasad
THE heavens opened up and a slight drizzle fell just before the casket of the late Tui Vuda Ratu Josefa Iloilo was carried out of the Jone Wesele Church to its final destination — the sautabu (chiefly burial ground) Naburenivalu yesterday.
Thousands of people from all walks of life attended the church service and entombment ceremony in Vuda.
Leading the government delegation were the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.
They were accompanied by Cabinet ministers and senior civil servants which included Police Commissioner Brigadier Ioane Naivalurua.
The vanua was represented by paramount chiefs of Fiji's 14 provinces. Those present included turaga na Ratu mai Verata Ratu Ifereimi Ravoka and Bau chiefs Adi Samanunu Talakuli Cakobau and Ratu Jope Seniloli.
Head of the Burebasaga confederacy Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa was also joined by the Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, Ratu Epeli Ganilau and Ratu Aisea Katonivere of Macuata.
The Methodist church were represented by former president Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca who also delivered the sermon at the funeral service while the general secretary Rev Tuikilakila Waqairatu delivered the eulogy on behalf of the church.
Members of the judiciary, politicians and former ministers like Mahendra Chaudhry were also at Viseisei.
And so were members of the business community; the owners of Punjas and Motibhai at the forefront of this group.
All foreign embassies were represented and some notable sports personalities like Ro Seru Tuisese, Alivereti Doviverata and Vili Satala were also part of Fiji's historic state funeral.
The village green was in a sea of black and white with an array of crimson red of the military uniform.
The soldiers accorded the highest military honour, the 21 gun salute, to the late former president before he was finally entombed at Naburenivalu.