Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Story from Mali Island near Labasa

From Peceli

My perception of Mali Island people, who are my relatives, are that they are kind, peace-loving, and like to fish, to sing and to sleep! When I was young we used to go to Mali every New Year for a week of celebration. My mother came from Vesi village in Mali. Close to Vesi village there is an old fort site on the top of the hill called Koi Vuanabuli and no-one goes there.

Nobody told me the exact story that I found in Jane's Oceania site about the war between the Macuata people and the Mali Islanders when Tui Macuata involved the chief of Cakaudrove and his army. This happened a long time ago of course.

In March, 1841, Tui Macuata appealed to Tui Cakau for help against the people of Mali Island, and forty large canoes with two thousand warriors set out from Somosomo. This army browsed its way around the coast like a plague of caterpillars, leaving bare gardens and months of famine where it passed. At length, after feasting and dancing in Tui Macuata's town, the combined forces of Somosomo and Macuata moved against the sugar-loaf hill of Mali, on which the stronghold was perched, with only one approach, steep, and easily defended with stones.

The operations began with an exchange of taunts, and with boasting; "each party continued for some time this kind of banter to each other till three of the Mali people ventured half-way down the path, where they stood and dared any or all to come up. All of our party that had muskets fired and killed the three, then rushed up and caught the bodies as they rolled down the path. A number of our people were wounded, and as some of them perhaps all, went rather for amusement then for revenge, there the affair ended."

After more dancing and feasting, the army returned to Somosomo; but within a few months the Mali people had turned the tables. Such campaigns were more like picnics than wars; the risks were few, the diversions many, and food was plentiful while it lasted.

The chiefs of the coastal districts seem rarely to have carried their wars to the point of complete and final victory, there were, no doubt, warriors who were anxious, from bravado or hate, to carry a beleaguered stronghold by assault and to destroy it utterly; but there were usually enough others who were luke-warm about it, to restrain them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bula Si'a

Surfing the web when i came across your articles. Nice reading.

im from a nearby village of Tabia