Showing posts with label Fijian funerals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fijian funerals. Show all posts

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tribewanted continues on Vorovoro

from w
We pop into the tribewanted site occasionally though we have never been members. It's mainly because of our relationships with the people of Mali Island who are closely related. Peceli has met some of the tribewanted team on two visits to Vorovoro. Here is some news posted yesterday. The funeral described of a young man aged 31, gives little detail of what really happened, why he died, and that is concerning. Our family from Vatuadova attended the funeral as the young man was related.

Islands as Arks: re-discovering Vorovoro
Community → Blogs from Vorovoro → Ben Keene's blog
By Bengazi, Vorovoro, Fiji Posted 1 day ago
University of the South Pacific Ethno bio-diversity study begins
As I am sure you will read on Ben Katz’s blog – our sustainability manager was able to recently persuade a team of five students and lecturers to visit Vorovoro to begin a study of local knowledge of Vorovoro’s reefs. The goal is that after this initial research more students will return to extend the study, building up detailed knowledge of the islands marine environments so that both the knowledge and the reefs can be preserved for future generations.

At sevusevu on tuesday (Tui Mali’s weekly visit to Vorovoro) the USP team presented their two day findings to chief, team, tribe members, and the Prisons Commissioner for the South of Fiji (as Tui Mali’s guest). Teddy Fong, the team leader from USP, spoke of ‘islands as arks’, of how we can see the whole cycle of life on and around an island – and how they provide a rare opportunity to see global ecosystems on a micro scale. When we first looked to come to Vorovoro, I remember thinking something not disimilar although not as scientifically put – that on Vorovoro, we can see so easily the full cycle of life and its biodiversity, and that is why it is the ideal place to educate, inspire and make connections. We will post the full report of their survey online when it is complete and I hope that the partnership will grow from here.
The 11th Hour: a holistic sustainability workshop
After a full meke class on Thursday morning (with Crimestopper even introducing a new head wiggling style), Ben Katz lead a discussion on tribe members attitudes and involvement with sustainable living. Interestingly all those present had been involved through their work at home in some way: Jodie as a sales rep for a recycling company, Louis from Holland knows a lot about liquid nitrogen and even sells CO2, Paula from Italy sells bikini’s (thus saving on extra clothing…), Becky had been involved in Environmental & Energy Law, Moya ran the eco-car fleet for Estee Lauder, Sophie had produced Radio Campaigns on green issues, and our very own Katz had run a sustainable landscaping business.

From Hybrids to Shampoos to Greenwashing to defining sustainability, Re-designing Design itself and becoming re-connected with our environment, we covered a lot of ground. The third compost loo is being re-decorated by the tribe with eco facts for what you can do easily at home.

Later in the afternoon, as the showers began, we settled down in the Great Bure with scones and sugared tea to watch The 11th hour, the most compelling environmental documentary I’ve seen – following the insights of the world’s most eminent scientists into the state of planet today and what must be done to prevent catastrophe. The closing comments of the film are made by an indigenous indian chief who speaks very plainly that no matter what, the earth will survive, the question is whether we want to survive with it.

A community in mourning
News came early in the week that Mosese’s (one of our boat captains) younger brother had tragically passed away at the age of 31. Peni was a fit young man, who met his lovely wife whilst visiting Vorovoro one afternoon last year, and since begun a new life in Nakawaga village. No one seems to know why he dropped down so suddenly last week – all the villagers can say is that his wife had been saying that Peni had told her in the days before his death that he “would soon be going to a far off place.”
Marau left early in the week to start helping the village prepare for the significant funeral. I travelled with the family on Friday morning and arrived to a village full of people quietly preparing for a heavy day. The two hour service was followed by the short pilgrimage to the village grave site on the hill, and there in the midday heat, 150 gathered – wailing, singing hymns and shoveling thick heavy mud into Peni’s final resting place. I don’t think I’ve ever been part of something like that – where you can feel the communal shift in emotion for a man who passed too soon to one of quiet acceptance for all except the immediate family, as the flowers were placed on his mud and rock make-shift grave.

Life – and death – on these beautiful islands, a story we’re fortunate to be part of.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Funeral at Vatuadova

from Peceli
Here are some of the photos taken yesterday at my sister Suliana's funeral. A very sad day.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Preparations for a funeral

from w
Peceli told me that the Vatuadova village is full of people. Yesterday a large group of people related to Suliana's husband, Samisoni, arrived from Bua and Tavea Island with their gifts, as well as relatives and friends from Labasa. There are now many cows and pigs brought by the visitors. The vakatunuloa sheds are up and the houses are filling with people, some arriving on the ferry and bus from Suva and other places, including lots of children. More will come by plane today. Everyone knows their responsiblity - the cooking, speech-making, preparation of kava, prayers, singing, crying. The funeral will be tomorrow.

My tribute for Suliana

I have known Suliana Sigani for over forty years. We first met in Lautoka when she lived with Peceli in a household with three generations. Peceli was one of the ministers attached to Wesley Methodist Church then.

But Suliana's early life had been spent in Labasa (where St Mary’s hostel now is) and when her father died Suliana nd Peceli went to live with older relatives in Naseakula village while other brothers and sisters went to Mali Island. After schooling finished, and as a teenager, Suliana worked for an Australian family in the Colonial Sugar Refinery as their housegirl and she moved with them to Suva and then Lautoka. She married Samisoni who is from Bua and who was working with land surveying.

After a family tragedy in Naikoro, Suliana took over raising two little girls, Ulamila and Ateca, and the family moved back to the family land of Vatuadova starting with a small bush hut. This was reserve land but no one was living there at the time. Peceli and I were living in Lautoka then.

Suliana and Samisoni and Irimaia and Evia developed a cane farm and gradually the farm grew into a village as more wooden houses were built. Peceli and I lived there for three years and all the childen had an idyllic life in Vatuadova. At one time we lived in bamboo bures beside the sea at Nukutatava, but Vatuadova was the base for the family which was related to Wailevu so there were always many visitors coming, and visits to relatives in Wailevu, Nakama and other places.

At that time Nau Levu (Peceli and Suli’s mother) lived with Suli’s family and when she died, she was the first to be buried on the little hill at Vatuadova. Nau Levu came from Vesi village in Mali and always there has been a strong connection with Mali Island.

Suliana continued to be the strong matriarch of the family and a woman of great devotion to the church, community and family. She was a very strict woman, sometimes hot-tempered, and she always wanted all the mataqali children and young adults to behave according to her high standards.

She and Samisoni moved to Tuatua housing and the house there soon became filled with many young relatives as Suliana became the mother and grandmother to many children. Diuna, their youngest daughter grew up, married, and lives in Labasa. One day Suliana was surprised by visitors from Australia - it was the family she had worked with when she was a teenager and young adult.

After the eldest brother Pala died, Suliana was appointed head of the mataqali and she became the formal leader of the family.
However her health deteriorated in recent years. Isa lei, it was her time last weekend to leave us. We celebrate her life and remember her goodness, strength of will, smile and unique personality.