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Toka Still Making Magimagi At 78

Toka Still Making Magimagi At 78
Filimone Toka, 78, at his home on Vatoa Island in the Southern Lau Group on August 28, 2018. Photo: Sheenam Chandra
August 29
12:08 2018

If there is anyone in the country who knows a lot about making magimagi (coconut fiber ropes or sinnet), it would be Filimone Toka.

The 78-year-old from Vatoa Village in the Southern Lau Group has been making magimagi since he was 10 years old.

“In one week, I can make three 17-metre magimagi,” he boasts.

The island of Vatoa in the Southern Lau Group has only one village, Vatoa, with a population of 138.

The magimagi is a traditional type of rope made from coconut husks. It can be used to tie things together, used in building a traditional Fijian bure and most Lauans use it to tie a mat around their waist when attending a funeral or festival.

The skilled craftsman perfects his craft while sitting in his house, overlooking the sea. The skin on his knees has grown smooth and shiny because of the constant rubbing of coconut husks.

“I take the coconut, remove it strand by strand, and then take few strands, and rub it together to make one thick strand,” he said.

Once the strands are made, Mr Toka proceeds to plait it into one fine rope. He checks for the tensile strength as well.

“I pull on the magimagi to check if it’s strong or not,” he said.

He also makes the fuwe – a traditional type of flyswatter.

“It is used to fan away the flies while having a meal,” Mr Toka said.

He normally sells his products when ships from Viti Levu come to Vatoa once a month. He said he earns a decent wage, enough to support his family of two. Mr Toka is one of villagers in Lau who still keep their traditional craftsmanship intact.

“Even my grandchildren know how to make the magimagi because they always see me doing this so there is no sign of cultural deterioration,” he said.

Edited by Naisa Koroi



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