NEWS

Historical War Dance To Welcome Duke, Duchess

The district of Nakelo in the province of Tailevu will display its traditional ‘meke’ or war dance called the Maravulevu to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex Prince Harry and
23 Oct 2018 11:15
Historical War Dance To Welcome Duke, Duchess
Nakelo villager Aca Simolo, 60, explains the history behind the war dances that will be performed for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex today. Photo: Simione Haravanua

The district of Nakelo in the province of Tailevu will display its traditional ‘meke’ or war dance called the Maravulevu to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex Prince Harry and Meghan Markle today at Albert Park.

Following seven weeks of preparations, about 100 men from the various villages that make up Nakelo district will participate in the meke during the traditional welcome ceremony.

This is the third time that Nakelo will be performing the traditional dance for a royal visit at the request of the Prime Minister through the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs.

Overseeing the performance, 60-year-old Aca Simolo said the traditional dance would be performed in three different ways namely Namada, meke Visamu and the Iri.

Giving a verbal account of the origins of the traditional war dance, Mr Simolo said it was named after a seven-deck ship which sailed through the Black Sea to get to Fiji.

“Back in the days the story was that the dance is named after a seven-storey ship which came from the North Pole,” he said.

“The dance is designed according to the seven storeys of the ship. Each storey is representative of a unique dance choreography, but we are only performing three choreographies.”

During the course of the ship’s journey to Nakauvadra in Ra, Mr Simolo said the ship’s crew fought battles along the way.

“While it was sailing up the Rewa River onto a stretch of water called Wai Nasasi adjacent to Kasavu the crew heard the call from the men who were rehearsing at a Fijian bure called Naividamu in Vunivaivai Village in Nakelo,” Mr Simolo said.

“That is when the ship made a turn and went through a channel called Temesi going up to Visama all the way to Vunivaivai where the journey ended at Naividamu.”

He said from stories relayed to them by their elders, the person who had initially learned the traditional choreography became paralyzed after he breached instructions not to extend the song’s verse.

“The dance was first performed in 1953 during the royal visit by the Queen then again in 1970 when Prince Charles came.”

Mr Simolo said an idea that had sprung to mind was to teach the younger generation the dance so that it was not forgotten because it was a treasured possession of Nakelo district.

Two buses have been booked to transport the performers to Albert Park at 2 pm today.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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