Monday, November 9, 2009

Unity after 30 Years

30-year rift ends -Timoci Vula
Monday, November 09, 2009

A RIFT that existed for about 30 years in Nakorovou Village in Rewa came to an end with celebrations yesterday.

Chiefs and villagers gathered as one to celebrate their reconciliation after their long dispute that severed ties between families, religions and with traditional leaders,

There was laughter and feasting as men, women and youths shook hands, hugged, kissed and shed tears of joy.

Differences over a chiefly title split the two chiefly clans and their members and it was never resolved for various reasons.

The first split occurred in 1983 following disagreements over certain traditional protocols during the chiefly funeral of the then late Tui Noco, Ratu Epeli Rayawa.

Village elders told the Fiji Times that at that time, there were two factions - one wanted the installation of the new Tui Noco before Ratu Epeli was laid to rest while another faction opposed it.

The villagers managed to resolve the dispute in 1987 but more problems surfaced.

In 1995, the two chiefs exchanged verbal abuse during a village development meeting and this split the two chiefly mataqali (landowning units) - mataqali Wainasue and mataqali Naqali.

It was after this meeting that the chiefly Wainasue clan split into two.

The two other sub-clans further split into three factions each with their own supporters.

The problem was further compounded when villagers decided to have two churches.

Methodist Church appointments to the division were rejected and more trouble followed

Families broke up, children failed at school and developments in the village came to a halt.

Some villagers moved their families out to escape what they felt was a curse.

Several attempts were made by some chiefs, prayer groups, and past government officials and other interested parties to bring about reconciliation but to no avail.

In 2005 and 2006, a committee established to draw up a reconciliation strategy also failed.

But prayers groups never gave up and fasted for divine intervention.

Last year, the tide turned.

Clergymen appointed by the Methodist Church were allowed in the village and villagers united in worship.

Last month, the two factions of the Wainasue chiefly clan reconciled. They were followed by other chiefly mataqali of the yavusa Vuniyavu to the church ground, where they believe all hatred, grudges and differences will be buried for good.

In Nakorovou Village yesterday, villagers who had resided in urban centres and had not returned for years did so to attend the thanksgiving service and to witness what they described as a "very important event in the history of their village

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