Island News

A trip like no other

Written By : MARAEA WAQALEVU . For two young ladies, Litiana Cama and Joana Dawainavesi being part of the funeral gathering and burial for the late Tui Levuka, Ratu Kolinio
19 Jul 2008 12:00

image Written By : MARAEA WAQALEVU . For two young ladies, Litiana Cama and Joana Dawainavesi being part of the funeral gathering and burial for the late Tui Levuka, Ratu Kolinio Rokotuinaceva was an experience in itself and each of them has their own story to tell.
For Litiana, her friendship with the late high chief’s family took her to Levuka, but for Joana, her traditional obligation for the chiefly family was what took her there.
Litiana had vowed she would revisit the old capital again after her first trip to the old capital many months ago and she promised herself that for the second time around, it was going to be strictly for sight seeing and adventure and that she had all planned for the near future, little did she know the so called future travel plan would come sooner than she anticipated.
For the young lady, it was a trip to remember as she was accompanying the late Tui Levuka’s family to lay to rest a loving husband, father, grandfather and a high chief in his own right and not too many get the opportunity to be on such a trip.
Through her close friendship with one of the late high chief’s granddaughters Di Mere, Litiana was specially invited by her close friend to be part of the delegation going to the old capital for the special burial which brought the whole of Levuka to a standstill.
And through this friendship, she became a regular fixture at the family home in Namadi Heights which also happened to be the very home the late Tui Levuka frequented when in town for medical reasons.
“It was a trip that was not planned at all and though Di Mere had invited me to accompany her family to Levuka for the last funeral rites for her late grandfather, I was a bit skeptical about the trip.
“This was a trip that I would actually remember for ever.”
She said not many people get the chance to be part of the traditional rites accorded to a high chief during his death and to be part of the family delegation was close enough for her.
“There is just so much protocol and everyone has to abide by it, young and old alike and even though I’m not from Levuka, one had no choice but to respect the cultural and traditional obligations bestowed upon their high chief in his time of passing.
“I believe the same would be accorded to any province that we visit. I mean most provinces have certain cultures and traditions that may differ from ours, but the thing is, when you’re there, you have to abide by their traditions,” said Litiana.
She said she was able to visit some of the villages while there for the five-day trip, but unfortunately she can’t say it was adventurous because not much sightseeing was done because the purpose of her trip was a totally different one.
“The experience alone was amazing because I got to witness first hand how traditional rites are accorded to a high chief and his family in time of death and this will indeed be a story I will get to tell my children one day,” Litiana said.
For Joana Dawainavesi on the other hand, she had to be in Levuka for the funeral of the late high chief, it was a must as it was part of her traditional obligation.
Originally from Vuma in Levuka, members of her tribe are the traditional warriors for the chiefly family and when she along with members of her family first received news of the Tui Levuka’s passing, work aside and everything else, she knew she had to be there without any arguments.
“I never anticipated that one day I was going to be part of the funeral for my high chief, but being a member of the ‘bati’, traditional warrior, it was part of my role to be present at the funeral,” Joana said.
She said that though the occasion was a somber one, she couldn’t help the excitement she felt when she realised, she along with members of her mataqali were going to be there right in the forefront of the show.
“Our role is to basically guard the tomb where our chief would later be laid to rest and for us ladies, we were tasked with decorating the inside and outside of his tomb.
“I just basically felt a rush being part of the whole thing and being able to give back to my chief something even in time of death,” she said.
Joana said there were so many sleepless nights as everything for the burial had to be perfect and she along with other ladies made sure that came into fruition.
She said that as a ‘bati’, this was just the beginning of many roles that she would have to fulfill in the near future.
“One day the old people of our clan will pass on and it will be us in this generation and the generations to come that will have to take up the role that has been passed on from our descendants and their descendants,” said Joana.
She will be returning to Levuka for the commemoration of the 100 nights for Ratu Kolinio and according to Joana, it’s another trip that she’s looking forward to because it would be the lifting of the mourning period and there would definitely be celebrations at the old capital for the occasion.
For Litiana on the other hand, she is yet to see whether she will make it on the trip for the occasion and she said, “I wouldn’t give up the opportunity if given. You never know, it could be another story to tell.”

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