While the shenanigans in Suva get reported or misreported, life in Vorovoro and Mali Islands continues as one day after another in the sun. Here is an interview, courtesy of tribewanted, with Varanisese, a woman from Mali.
The Hammock Society Interview with Francis
Community → Hammock Society Interviews → James Kerridge's blog
By Jimbo, ,
Posted 3 days ago
Jump, jump, bubble and twist if you eat too much sugar it’ll make you go like this. The Hammock Society is buzzing from a sugar overdose thanks to the beauty sitting with me who’s been cooking up plenty pawpaw jam. It is with great pleasure to bring to you the mother of the tribe, the one who’s been keeping you fat and happy, the one and only… Francis.
Bula sia everybody.
What’s it like to be a mother on a remote island?
The mother’s job is very hard. When its five… wake up… make the fire, make tea, scrape the coconut, father is still asleep… after that spread the table and you call the family. Then after that you wash the plate and think about the lunch… need to feed the family three times a day. If no fish, and no man to help… you go pull some cassava and cook. You can rest a little bit after lunch but at three o’clock need to make dinner. If six people in the family, like my family, then its very difficult. But now, all my children grown up… just Chelli at home.
Where did you grow up?
That is what we Mali people call Ligulevu… we call it Hawaii because the people very happy there hahahahaha. My mother is from Ligulevu so that’s where we brought up. Now my mother and my daddy all lost and my uncle, only my aunty is there still alive.
Did you grow up in a bure, like the ones we live in here on Vorovoro?
Yes, I live in the bure, many kids stay together… we are nine children plus adults… just one big room, when we sleep girls that side, boys this side and our mum in the middle.
And your mum had to cook for all of those children?
Yes, and my grandmother help. We use the fire, no gas back then, just the fire. When I was a little girl I saw a match for the first time, before the match it can take a long time to light the fire.
Do you miss living inside the bure?
It is difficult to call the man to cut the reeds and coconut leaves and repair the roof. Now its good because we don’t change the roof because the iron on top.
So your mum cooked for many mouths, but they were all Fijian mouths and here you are cooking for an international tribe as Tribewanted’s Head Chef!
Now we know many new foods, before it was only Fijian. We now cook lentil flans, sheppards pie, mashed potato, pizza… hahahahahaha.
Does Poasa like pizza? I bet he loves a margarita!
Hahahaha… we don’t cook pizza for Poasa, he just likes Fijian food. All my family like that, we eat Fijian food. We just have cassava and vundi and another type of banana and green vegetable, we plant some bele, plant some pumpkins, we have fish in the sea. Everything we want, we got it.
How do you catch the fish? Do you use dynamite and blow them out of the water?
Hahahaha, no dynamite. Sometimes… we can use a net to catch the small fish and then use the small fish on the line to catch the big fish… and small hermit crabs make the fish very hungry… the fish love that and we love the fish hahahaha… I put the bait on the hooks and when the fish eat the bait… PULL THE FISHING LINE! Hahahaha… and you be careful you take the fish properly and you bite the head to kill it. Finish hahahahaha…
If I was a fish I would be more scared of you than the sharks!
That’s not just my way, every Fijian lady does that hahahahaha…
Do you eat the fish raw or do you cook it?
You can it eat it roar, sure, but better to fry it in coconut milk, if not you can boil the fish or curry the fish. We eat all parts of the fish, only the bone left hahahahaha… in Fiji the important part of the fish is the head. The chief will always have the fish head, we serve him that, the eyes are very beautiful… ooooo very tasty.
Tui Mali once offered me the eye ball of a big, decapitated fish… when I politely declined he looked like I had just turned down gold.
Yeah, its like that… fish eye very tasty.
Do they teach you mat weaving at school?
No, we just learn this in our family because this is our Fijian custom… when we are small kids we learn from our mum. But now my daughter Chelli, she always runs off when I’m trying to teach her to weave the mat hahahahaha…
How long does it take to make a mat?
First you must grow the tree, then take the part you need and dry it in the sun. Then you boil it, beat it and cut it into the pieces you need. Takes a very long time, not easy… no. Then you begin to weave, the big mat can take two or three weeks to weave… ooooo long time.
I’ve seen many mats get buried with the coffin at funerals… mixing the old burial style with the new. Do you think it’s a waste of time making something that will just be buried and rot away?
Yeah… but you know that’s our Fijian custom, its very important. That’s our last gift to them.
I also heard that in your custom; only the woman cry at funerals. Is this true?
Just the woman cry but its up to the man… if it take their heart, it aches to them… then they can cry.
Your family structures are very interesting to me because they’re very different to what I know. Back home, people are always moaning about their ‘in-laws’ but here in Fiji you cannot speak to the in-laws.
Like myself, I cannot talk or joke to Poasa’s older brother Tui Mali. I’m not allowed to talk to him, that’s our Fijian custom. When his parents were alive I can only speak to the mum, not the father. But only Poasa’s mother angry with me.
Why, were you a naughty girl Francis?
Because… if I’m doing something wrong… carelessly… she talk very hard to me. Its good because I learn more from her, talk very hard but talk straight… when she saw something wrong she talk to me, not to other ladies like that… always talk straight.
You’ve invited many tribe members to visit your church, and some are surprised its not on Mali, instead you travel a little further to the mainland. Why is this?
One of my daughters was very sick… for three years! I took her to every church for the pastor to pray for her but she not get better. I took her in the hospital but they cannot find any sickness… x-rays and everything but no sickness there. After that I hear about the Revival Fellowship and they say if my daughter receive the holy spirit she can get alive… make her better. It was new to me to hear that kind of thing. So I took my daughter there and they pray for her and now she has received the holy spirit she speak in tongues and now the sickness has gone. That was in 2005 and the sickness has not come back.
I was born into a catholic family and during my confirmation ceremony I was waiting for the Holy Spirit, was hoping for some Jedi powers but when the bishop placed the sacrad oil on my forehead… I felt nothing. What does it feel like?
This, one time they pray for me and the pastor touch me and ask me what I want to pray for… please I want to receive the Holy Spirit… I just want to know ay! When they touch me… long time, long time… I just say hallelujah and after that I speak in another tongues. I was filled with happiness, very happy that time. It start from inside, like a wind, very cold in my stomach that’s going round… very happy. I now know that this is true, that’s why we go back to that church.
It sounds like the Revival Fellowship Church has changed your lives, how has Tribewanted impacted on your life?
This island was just one family, but now its very good to us… all the people come from around the world. We thank Alan Kelly very much for bringing us the wind turbine because before… we use the fuel generator and it costs a lot of money. We now have jobs to help pay for schooling, I’m very happy the tribe is here.
What would make you even happier?
Every time I wash by hand, all the kids growing up… washing washing washing… my shoulder very weak now, I would like a washing machine. Maybe some day we can get a washing machine.
Or otherwise your arms might fall off and there’ll be no one to cook pawpaw curry!
Hahahahahaha… yeah that’s right… hahahahaha…
Any last messages for the readers out there?
About half past five in the morning we sit together and sing hymns, if we have power we can play the keyboard hahahahaha…
So bring some ear plugs and get yourselves over here pronto to sample this amazing atmosphere and culture. What’s for lunch Francis?
Pawpaw curry… you favorite ahahahaha…
Yes yes!... its another great day in Vorovoro. If anyone is travelling from the UK and you have some spare room in your luggage for a couple of hammocks, please email firstname.lastname@example.org – we’ll need more chilling space for the extra visitors next month! And remember readers… chill out, don’t workout. Go Hammocks!