‘New Rewans’ Honoured In Historic Event

Descendants of Indian indentured labourers (Girmitiyas) were yesterday given the title ‘Luvedra na Ratu’ (children of the High Chief) in Noco, Rewa. In a historic and emotional event, the “new
06 May 2017 11:00
‘New Rewans’ Honoured In Historic Event
Akaneta Liau 66 of Noco Rewa with her new friend Chandra Wati 65 of Lautoka following unveiling of Plaque to commemorate the name for Indian indenture descendent, “Luvedra na Ratu” at Noco Village in Rewa on May 5, 2017. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Descendants of Indian indentured labourers (Girmitiyas) were yesterday given the title ‘Luvedra na Ratu’ (children of the High Chief) in Noco, Rewa.

In a historic and emotional event, the “new Rewans” were formally accepted in a traditional naming ceremony of “vakatoka yaca”.

It is believed that this is the first event of its kind in Fiji.


The day was marked by some profound statements:

Ro Teimumu Kepa, Gone Marama Bale na Roko Tui Dreketi, paramount chief of the Burebasaga Confederacy, said the relationship was more important than including them in the Vola ni Kawa Bula (VKB). The VKB carries the genealogy of the iTaukei.

The Tui Noco, Ratu Isoa Damudamu, said the ceremony marked a new journey. There were barriers before that divided them, he said. They had been removed because the relationship was divine.

“We are all children of God,” Ratu Isoa said.

The Gone Marama Bale na Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu said the Girmit descendants and the Rewans had not thought about the VKB.

She added: “What the descendants of the Indentured Labourers were looking for was a sense of belonging and this is what we have done from 2015 when the Ratu (Tui Noco) said to them that they belonged to us and we belong to them.

“Normally the chiefs of Noco are known as the ‘Luvedra na Ratu ni Noco’ and in our history, we are not aware that this has happened any time before this, so this is an opportunity for us to walk on a new pathway.”

Sashi Kiran said: “I just want to share that VKB is for the indigenous people with their rights. We have no intention or desire to take any space that may cause any insecurity to the people of the land.

“This entire relationship is not about VKB but about peaceful, loving relationships, a better understanding and removal of fear so that we can grow together.”

Ratu Isoa said the acceptance of the Girmit descendants gave them a sense of unity.

He said it is essential in sustaining the narrative of the roots, the foundation and sacred protection of this relationship for current and future generations.

“We believe that this has sustained our non-discriminatory linkages as iTaukei, binding us as one people, providing the basis of peaceful relationships and we are extending the same privileges to our new family members,” he said.

He said the journey would not end here.

Ratu Isoa said they would approach Government to formalise the relationship to make it meaningful that “we are one.”

It was his ancestors who buried the indentured labourers who died after the Syria ship ran aground on Nasilai Reef in 1844.

MPs who attended the event yesterday included National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad, SODELPA MPs Aseri Radrodro, Mikaele Leawere, Jiosefa Dulakiverata and Ratu Sela Nanovo.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa


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