Wednesday, October 31, 2012

More about the word kalougata

from Peceli,
On the positive note, we have to thank Mr Ah Koy and his family for donating their money for this new Bible translation and circulate copies throughout the universities.  It has to be noted that not many Fijians are like Ah Koy who are passionate to look at the Fijian vocabularies and to try and find the meanings.  The word kalougata  has become a part of our Christian understanding as meaning 'blessing', or 'sharp blessing of God Almighty' .

 However I don't agree with Mr Ah Koy's interpretation as focussed on a snake and associated with the traditional stories of Degei.  It happened that when I was in Rakiraki I climbed up the Kauvadra with an English doctor, Dr Sorokin who really wanted to see the place where the story came from.  As cultures change over the years we no longer concentrate on former gods.

Just like many stories in Europe where the Christians over the centuries 'Christianized' old ceremonies and beliefs, we in Fiji have done this too.  Such as on Bau Island, the old killing stone has become the baptismal font in the church there.

I agree with Mr Ah Koy that Fiji has suffered in recent years in different ways but as we search for truth we are sure of our Christian God as being with us in the journey.

Whether we agree or disagree with the use of Fijian words, we can learn from one another and respect different views.  May God bless you indeed. Kalougata!

1 comment:

Andrew Thornley said...

Dear Peceli,

As you say, the debate refuses to go away. Ah Koy is endeavouring to "buy" his way through to his own very narrow conclusion. Thankyou for referring readres to my blogsite. However I would like to contribute further on this matter and I submit this brief note on Kalougata that I wrote a couple of years ago. I hope it provides some further help to your readers:


1. From the very early days of the Christian era in Fiji, Kalougata was universally recognized as the word for “blessing”

2. In 1839, four years after the European missionaries arrived in Fiji, Rev. William Cross published the first translation of the book of Genesis. In Chapter 1:22, for the phrase “God blessed them”, Cross used the Fijian, “Sa vakalougatataki ra na Kalou, ka vosa...”. This was later revised by the missionary scholar, Rev David Hazlewood in the 1864 Fijian Old Testament as “A sa vosavakalougatataki ira na Kalou...” Hazlewood’s revision was later accepted by Rev Frederick Langham in the 1901 OT Revision, which is the version in use today.

3. In the New Testament, the first use of the word “blessed” is in the Beatitudes: Matthew 5:3ff. In this case, Rev John Hunt, who was the first to translate the New Testament in full, used the phrase “Sa kalougata ko ira... for “Blessed are...” Hunt had the services of brilliant Fijian linguists such as the legendary Noa and the Viwa chief, Ratu Ravisa (Elijah Varani), as well as Adi Vatea, relative of Cakobau. These people would have approved the use of this phrase.

4. The word “Kalou” in Hazlewood’s 1851 Dictionary is defined as “a god” and Hazlewood says that the word is used to denote anything superlative.

5. In the same Hazlewood dictionary, the word “kalougata” is defined as “ a powerful or true god, a god that performs what he promises – hence blessed”.

6. The word “gata” in Hazlewood’s dictionary has a primary meaning of “sharp” and can also be used in descriptions of the land when referring to “hilly” or “many peaks”. “Gata” is also used when addressing a traditional deity, in the sense of “so let it be” [viz: Amen]. This is expressive of the god’s power to perform. And so we have the Fijian phrase: “Sa gata cavucavu na kalou”, meaning: ‘The god speaks truly’. A literal rendering of this phrase in English would be ‘the god pronounces to the point or exactly’. This sense of the word “gata” gives further depth to an understanding of “kalougata”.

7. Then there is the important idea of ‘functional substitution’, as used by Fijian missiologists like Rev Dr Alan Tippett. This is where something powerful from pre-Christian days is taken and given a sacred Christian use. The best known example in Fiji is Cakobau’s killing stone being now used as a baptismal font. So “kalougata” – a god performing what is promised – becomes “blessed”.

8. In the more modern Fijian dictionary, Capell has not helped this debate by not having a separate entry for the word “kalougata” even though it appears countless times in the Fijian Bible. So a far more convincing source is Hazlewood’s dictionary, not Capells.

[Written March 2009]