Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ra qiqi in Naduri village

from w
A story in today's Fiji Times is about the little silver eye bird  (zosterops lateralis)  as an omen in Naduri. The second piece is from an earlier babasiga post by Peceli about building a house in Naduri, and the third piece is a poem I wrote, associating the little bird with the destruction of the forest.  Ra qiqi the bird is in the first line of a meke ni yaqona and another version is more like a lele, a lament.

Warning of death on wings and a song

Sunday, April 21, 2013

SIGNS of a looming event that would strike the vanua of Bolatagane were revealed to two traditional leaders in the village of Naduri, two days before Macuata's paramount chief, Ratu Aisea Katonivere died out at sea.
The kingmaker of the chiefly title of the Tui Macuata, Ratu Peni Sogia, and the Marama ni Yavusa Naduri, Kalisita Bulikula, yesterday said they saw signs, but could not interpret their true meanings until the tragic news reached them.
Ratu Peni said a bird, known as the Qiqi, kept flying around the verandah of his home on Wednesday.
"For us, the Qiqi bird is a sign of good or bad news. It is something that has happened from the time of our forefathers.
"I was lying in bed when I heard the bird flying around the porch. This went on all day. My wife and grandchildren lying inside the house got frightened and moved to the back of the house after complaining about the bird.
"I told them to remain calm and not bother because I knew such birds heralded news. I didn't know whether it was good or bad news. I prayed and asked God to give me the peace to accept whatever would happen whether good or bad," Ratu Peni said.
He said when the villagers told him about the passing of their high chief, he bowed his head and thanked God for giving him peace at that moment.
"Only then I knew the purpose of the bird's visit to my home. As a little boy, whenever these birds visited the village, my father knew something was about to happen, but whether it was good or bad, he never knew, until it actually happened.
"I thank God for the life of my brother. He was very kind and never refused help to anybody.
"E na maqa va'adua ni va maqa. Tamata tauco'o dau lai ere'ere vua, e tu vua se maqa, ena soli ga e dua a (He will never say no. Anyone who asked him for help would receive something, even if he didn't have all that was asked for)," Ratu Peni said.
The Marama ni Yavusa Naduri said on Wednesday night, she chanted an iTaukei song in her sleep as she dreamt of a big function on the village lawn.
"I was asleep and my husband woke me up because he heard me singing an iTaukei song. I sat up in bed and told him that I dreamt of many people on the village lawn. People I had not met before and they came from all over the world.
"Naduri Village was full of people and in my dream, while watching these people, I was standing in the middle of the ground and singing the song.
"I prayed and asked God to reveal to me the meaning of my dream.
"When the sad news was brought to me on Friday morning, I cried and thought of my dream. But God has the last say and we really miss our brother," Ms Bulikula said.
Ratu Aisea Katonivere died early Friday morning at about 3am after his fishing boat sunk in the qoliqoli of Naduri. His cousin, Ratu Peni Vulaca, and nephew, Ratu Vereniki Marawa, who were with him, survived.
Building a chief's house in Naduri
One day we visited our elderly relative Sakaria in Naseakula village and he told us about the little bird in the forest near Naduri and he sang two versions of a song about Ra Qiqi and the building of a chief's house in Naduri.

During the 1940s Sakaria was part of a house-building project to build a new house for the high chief in Naduri down the coast from Labasa. They went into the forest to find the most suitable timber and only when the little forest bird, the white-eye, called, they knew that they had found the right tree. The men cut down the tree and chanted as they hauled the logs. The fine chief's house was builtd and named Bolatagane which means 'The House of the Strong'. Naduri is the village of the chief of Macuata

Traditionally the the duru or bou, the king post, has to have a human sacrifice. A man is buried with the king post. While they were building they chanted as they placed the kingpost in the hole and a man Epeli was thrown down. Luckily a young chief Kini Jioji from Labasa growled at them and he pulled the man out just before the king post was pushed down. Kini Jioji said, 'Sa gauna na Lotu!' This means we are Christians. No more human sacrifice!

In the Fiji Museum in Suva are two door posts carved as a man and a woman and the sign says they come from a chief's house in Naduri. The photo Wendy took of them did not come out. Today in Naduri the remains of the chief's house are left undisturbed and this is a tabu site.
Ra Qiqi the white-eye bird

Sing to me softly Ra Qiqi, a lullaby lightness,
not the guttural of men. Your wings tremble
amidst silver-leafed saplings, despite obscenities below.
Ia ia.

Beware of loggers' teeth ripping the forest apart,
severing the canopy. You panic and zigzag away,
your habitat stricken, the rape explicit.
Ia ia.

Here was a moment to lament, your song ignored,
Once, you signalled a season, timely and right,
your wing flashed, sacred white-eye.
Ia ia.

Your song flutters a message, one ironwood tree,
opening the canopy once in a decade
to build the Big House for the chief.
Ia ia.

Your full-throated cry dissolves to a lament
for the stolen land, the broken forests.
Isa oilei, isa oilei.

1 comment:

vasu-ni-macuata said...

quite interesting