Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Wailevu village in Macuata

From Peceli

There are several Wailevu villages in Fiji, because the word ‘wai levu’ means a river. The Wailevu I know is a few kilometres west of Labasa town. Our mataqali (tribe) belongs to Wailevu, our head the Tui Wailevu. There are five yavusa of the vanua of Wailevu: they are Yaudigi Sauniduna Matana and Nabuani and Wailevu.

When I was a young boy Wailevu village was known as having an abundance of food and crops because it is beside the Wailevu River. With the richness of the river you almost always could catch salala which are small fish, even with your bare hands. Also there was always kuka (small crabs) and mana (a river kind of lobster) and they almost came to the kitchen ready for cooking. I often visited my relatives in Wailevu Yavusaiati Clan and the Tui Wailevu (father of the present Tui Wailevu.)

The houses in this village have names. The former Tui Wailevu’s residence was called Vanuabalavu. The name has been changed to Natuvakaca for the present Tui Wailevu, Rokodewala Niumataiwalu.

In the centre of the village today is the Methodist Church Talatala’s residence which is called Nabunabuna and close by is the huge Methodist church which is a concrete building. Also there is a newly renovated hall. During the 70s the building of this church was a special project and I was involved in organising work teams of young men to raise funds for the project.

Many of the Wailevu people have sugar-cane land leased out to Indian farmers, and many of the Fijians from Wailevu also have sugar-cane. Some still live in the village but others have moved out to built their own settlements on their land. This is called tu vakagalala.

In an article in the Fiji Sun, this was written about Wailevu.

Indo-Fijian farmers in the Wailevu sector are part of the village. They have a very good relationship with the people of Wailevu and have helped in the development of the village. And the Turaga Tui Wailevu, Ratu Rokodewala Niumataiwalu, has asked all the headmen to renew leases on their land. He has set an example by renewing all leases on his land. The Tui Wailevu has made a plea to all chiefs around the country to follow suit. He said the land problem in Fiji should not be solved at the political level and should only involve the landowners and the tenants. (FS)

In the photograph are Neimani Lala with some of his family at their home in Wailevu.


Janessa Graves said...

Ni sa bula vinaka,
It is delightful to have found such a wonderful blog about Babasiga. My husband and I were Peace Corps volunteers in Labasa (2003-2004). The photos are bring back such vivid memories. Thank you. Please keep up the postings, and I'll try to keep up with reading them! Dua tale, vinaka vakalevu dina.

peceli and wendy's blog said...

Bula si'a Janessa,
Nice to read your comment. Where did you work in Labasa when you were volunteers? Have you been to Nukutatava beach or Vorovoro Island?
W and P

YD said...

I found the Tok Pisin languange interesting! In fact, Malaysian language has the word "binatang" too. While in Tok pisin it means insect, in Malaysian context it means animals (more general huh?)

I think the pidgin languages in the pacific regions influenced one another a lot. I suppose this dated back to the old times when there are much trading activities among the spices islands? Let's see what other words we can find in common.. :-)

The land problem in Fiji has been indeed a persisting one. I have only a little knowledge about the issue, so I hope you can enlighten me more about the issue. As far as I know, there is the use of ALTA 30-year lease as an interim solution to devise a long-term solution, the change of political power which complicates the matter, and the call for longer lease period, etc...

So how is the current resolution? Any new bills/acts to replace ALTA? and how does it affect both the Fijian and Indian community? etc...

Hope I am not too much of a nuisance to you. :-) Did pandabonium warn you? haha...

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hi YD,
Talk pidgin? Not in Fiji. Pidgin is used in Papua New Guinea, Solomons and Vanuatu I think. I will post something about Fiji languages some time.
Re. the land matters, that would require a thesis! It is so intricate.
I'll ask Peceli to write up his story about how we got some of our land back because of about 2000 acres of tribal land, the family only had access to about 20 acres at one stage.
PS I've got my password back. For some reason it didn't work for a couple of hours!

YD said...

thanks Wendy. perhaps I've got the meaning of pidgin wrong, I thought the islands have mix-and-match of languages. Pardon my ignorance. I looked up for the word pidgin, and found this. So are there different 'pidgins' for different places as well?

many many thanks for your coming posts about the various topics! very grateful for that... :-)

I think the temporary problem of being non-accessible might be due to blogspot doing their housekeeping maintenance, cuz my account froze for a few hours too.

take care...

Janessa Graves said...

My husband and I were volunteers in Labasa Town - I was at the Commissioner's office (Macuata House) and he was at the Ministry of Health next door. Unfortunately, we did not travel much when we were there, so haven't been to Nukutatava beach or Vorovoro Island. Hopefully on our next trip?

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hi Janessa,
If you were in the Commissioner's Office did you work with Rinieta Caniogo? She is one of our very good friends. She retired eventually and now lives in Suva, but visits lots of kin in Australia. Maybe you came later and replaced Rini!
We lived in Labasa 1972-5 and Peceli visits every year.
PS It's interesting what is happening in Macuata at present with Tui Macuata in Naduri very ecology-conscious.