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Urban Drift Worries Naikeleyaqa Villgers

Urban Drift Worries Naikeleyaqa Villgers
Villagers of Naikeleyaqa in Kabara in attendance at the talanoa session conducted in Kabara in the Southern Lau group on August 29, 2018. Photo: Sheenam Chandra
August 31
11:00 2018

One place to visit in the Lau group is Naikeleyaqa.

Just like a scene from a postcard of Bora Bora or Maldives, the beach of Kabara calls out for sun, sea and fun. The crystal clear water is enough to entice anybody who wants to swim. But there is also an issue that the villagers of this island is facing – urban migra­tion.

Urban migration is evident in the small, lush and idyllic village of Naikeleyaqa, in the tikina of Ka­bara in the Southern Lau group. The houses that were once filled with hustle and bustle of daily ac­tivities now remain desolate and dark on the island. Many of the families have left their houses for greener pastures, Viti Levu being the prefered destination for most of them.

One of the housewives and mat weavers of Naikeleyaqa, Losena Raika, explains the hard life in the village and why some families leave their homes for a better livelihood. But all bright lights do not lead to a good life, she says.

“It’s all about survival, and living on the island has taught me that,” she said.

Originally from Solotavui, Na­kasaleka, in Kadavu, she came to Naikeleyaqa when she married her husband. Now the 54-year-old has five children, all of them now work­ing, two live abroad and three in Viti Levu.

“I don’t understand why some fam­ilies leave this place to go and settle in Suva, I have been here all my life but my family and I never moved,” said Ms Raika.

She said some of the young men and women who left the village do not know the art of carving or weaving, which is the bread and butter for most of the villagers.

“When these villagers cannot face the hardships anymore, they opt for an easy way out, and that is moving to Viti Levu preferably to Suva,” she said.

But that is not the only factor that causes urban migration of the vil­lagers here. They also move when their children pursue their second­ary school education because there is no secondary school in Kabara.

“Sometimes when the children stay with their relatives in Viti Levu, the families demand for tanoa or fish from the village and sometimes it is hard for them to provide,” she said.

“Other parents prefer to send their children to boarding schools while most of the villagers move to Viti Levu when their children start sec­ondary education,” Ms Raika said.

Although the perception is that island life is easy-going and relax­ing, Ms Raika said there were times where one had to be strong to face obstacles and challenges in life.

Naikeleyaqa village head man Matai Kaloutoto in front of an abandoned house in Kabara in the Southern Lau group on August 29, 2018. Photo: Sheenam Chandra

Naikeleyaqa village head man Matai Kaloutoto in front of an abandoned house in Kabara in the Southern Lau group on August 29, 2018. Photo: Sheenam Chandra

“There is no freshwater supply in the village, so we often rely on rain­water. During the drought season like right now, we have little rain­water left, so we drink coconut and bathe in the sea,” she said.

“The village diet mostly consists of fish but they do often hunt for co­conut crabs as well. During low tide, the men and women go to the caves and this is during nighttime when the crabs come out. We shine our torches and this temporarily blinds the crabs causing them to freeze and we quickly catch them by tying their claws.”

This crab hunting activity is done by both the village men and wom­en. The culture is slowly changing where few youths take part over the years. Since many of the houses are now empty, and families have mi­grated, they will slowly lose their traditional ways of living in the village. Even the village headman, Matai Kaloutoto, expressed concern about the rapid rate of migration.

The villagers have abandoned their homes, the doors are open, and the corrugated roofing iron rust and leak while the interiors of the houses have reeds growing in them. They look like abandoned hope in paradise.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: sheenam.chandra@fijisun.com.fj

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