Namama villager Tevita Tamanilatui drinks from the spring believed to have originated from Geta. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI
WHILE villages and settlements along the coast of Naduri in Macuata struggled with their supply of water during the drought of 2015, the village of Namama had nothing to worry about.
In fact, when a visitor to the village asked village elder and traditional herald to the Tui Macuata, Vereti Veisamasama, how the villagers were coping with the dry conditions, he simply pointed to the rocky mountain behind the village and said: "O ea a bui (The old woman)."
Apparently the stranger did not understand what Mr Veisamasama was talking about. However, if you talk to anyone at Namama who is well versed with their folklore, they will tell you that Geta is the old woman who lives in the mountains.
Geta and her origins
She is the legendary woman who is said to be the origin of the people of Namama, a village nestled along the Naduri coast.
People in Namama refer to her as their their "vu" (a demigod from whom sprang a group of people); the protector of her people and in some instances a sign of eminent bad luck.
According to Mr Veisamasama legend has it she was the only sister of the snake god, Degei, and was one the many who journeyed with him from an unknown place to Fiji.
Legend has it Geta bore her brother's child during the journey and was banished by her brother to a place "where he was not known".
Mr Veisamasama said last year, a few officials from the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs visited the village seeking the story. He said when the legend was related to them, they said it matched some stories of the people of Vatukacevaceva in Ra.
Vatukacevaceva is a village just below the Nakauvadra mountain range, known in iTaukei folklore as the early home of some of the earliest iTaukei settlters.
Arriving in Namama
The people of Namama believe Geta came to Fiji with her brothere from somewhere on the African continent.
Upon her arrival at Naduri, she chose to settle at Namama but at a location on the hilly mountains now known as 'oro'ma'awa or old village.
After settling at 'oro ma'awa, her people decided to move to a place closer to the coast known as Na'i'o in the Namama dialect, or Natiko where they stayed.
Because of modernisation and wanting to be closer to the road, the people decided to move to Namama Village, a five-minute walk to the village of Naduri, the seat of the Tui Macuata.
The people of Namama say they originated from the old woman in the hills known as Geta.
Gift of water
Legend has it that when Geta was walking the mountains of Namama, she decided to have a rest and relieved herself in some bushes. Unknown to her, the god of the neighbouring island of Kia was watching the whole scene enfolding on the mountainside.
It was at the sight of Geta when he exclaimed in the Kia dialect 'Ai pele sa mi ce o Geta? (Is that Geta relieving herself on the mountainside?).
When Geta heard this, she hastened to rise and flee the scene knowing she had been caught in the act.
According to legend, at the spot where Geta relieved herself is a spring. This is the water source that has been sustaining the people of Namama through the ages.
According to villagers, the villages and settlements in and around Naduri can dry up but the spring never runs dry providing fresh water for the children of Namama.
Namama elder Iliesa Nakete said this was the precious sacred gift Geta continues to give to the people of Namama.
"We are thankful for the gift because we never run out of water even during droughts," he said. "However, it takes vigour and great strength to visit the site because it sits right on top of the hills."
'their' old woman
To this day the people of Namama claim they have special sightings of Geta who appears to either warn them that something bad is about to happen or to relay good news.
Mr Nakete says she often appears as an old Fijian lady of Indian descent begging by the roadside with torn clothes.
"Once we were going to the farm with a bunch of youths from the village when we sighted an old Fijian lady of Indian descent wearing rags by the roadside," he said. "Suspecting that it was Geta herself we accorded her with the 'tama' or greeting.
"When she did not speak we continued on not fearing her because she is supposed to be our vu.
"Sure enough, a few days later one of the members of the chiefly family in the village died."
Another incident, Mr Nakete related, was of a Namama woman on Viti Levu who had been having problems with her husband regarding the care of their child.
"I happened to be staying with the relative of ours when the incident happened and they had just begun legal proceedings in court," he said.
"Early one morning we got a shock when the father of the little girl walked to our house with the child telling my relative that she could keep the child for as long as she wanted. All we could make out was that he had been having sleepless nights after being visited by an old Indian lady who did not give him peace until the break of day.
"This is the legacy of this woman and what she means to our people."
Babasiga (pronounced bambasinga) is the dry land of Macuata in northern Fiji - our place in the sun in Fiji. Peceli is from Fiji from the village is Vatuadova and the beach is Nukutatava. Peceli Ratawa passed away on 27th December 2015 so this is Wendy's blog now. Wendy is an Australian and today live in Geelong, Australia.