Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rewa Chiefly Trip to their Verata Roots

Paula Tagivetaua - Sunday, January 17, 2010

I READ some differences of opinions this week about a great ancestor of the Roko Tui Dreketi.

My classmate Pate put it together very well on Thursday in his reply that should put to rest the argument but let me take you back to where they all came from.

On December 28, the Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Tuisawau Kepa, took members of her mataqali from valelevu in Lomanikoro, Rewa back to their roots at Ucunivanua, Verata. They went to see their yavu, the yavu of Romelasiga, son of Lutunasobasoba, the man they derive from.

It was a historic trip meant to educate the young genre.

The chiefly entourage included young and old, met former rugby skipper Ro Alivereti Doviverata and wife Rosi Tamani, Inoke Maraiwai who is married to national volleyball coach Adi Varanisese Logavatu and former national volleyball rep Ro Senimili Roqica.

Ratu Ifereimi Ravoka, the Turaga na Ratu, said it was merely a visit by Romelasiga's descendants to the tuakadra. He and Ro Teimumu had been talking about the trip for some time. She wanted it for the education of her people, being the teacher she is.

Adi Teimumu taught me in primary when she and the late Adi Talatoka came from Corpus for practical.

"I told her it was not a good time because the people were facing hard times and still picking up the pieces after cyclone Mick and there was a drought, but she insisted," said Tu Voka. "It is not a cara sala but a veisiko by our kin and we hosted afternoon tea."

A member of the mataqali valelevu I talked to said it was the first time a Roko Tui Dreketi had taken them to their roots.

"It's a good thing what the marama has done, we will learn from it," he said.

The entourage stopped first at a small hill about half a kilometre from Ucunivanua where signs of human habitation were still visible – trees indigenous to Fijian settlements such as the ivi and niusawa.

They said no one dared build a house on it. The hill is called Namako and is said to be where Romelasiga made his home a long time ago.

The mataki Burebasaga said Lutunasobasoba's children and their families built their yavu around Ucunivanua. Daunisai had his yavu toward Naloto from Namako and there is a yavu for kai Bau at the junction where a baka tree now stands.

"This is where they settled when they came from Nakauvadra," said the mataki.

"From here, they went to various parts of Fiji, Romelasiga to Burebasaga, Buisavulu to Bureta, Daunisai to Kabara and Tuinayavu to Batiki."

Namako was once a fortified hill –– bai ni valu. There is a trench around the hill to protect the inhabitants from hostile elements in those days.

The only way you can get past Namako from inland is to climb up the trench, where you would have been speared or clubbed to death by the bati.

Namako is full of history, as is Ucunivanua and mataqali valelevu members were privileged to be told their past.

At Namako is an ancient niusawa tree withered by exposure to the elements. Legend says Rokomoutu used to go and relax by the tree.

Such is the blood tie between the chiefly households of Lomanikoro and Ucunivanua, they address each other as mataqali, whereas Lomanikoro and other parts of Tailevu are naita.

I was part of the trip and got to see and hear my history – Buadolo where the Ulumatua's mother, Adi Leleasiga, gave him a branch of the bua tree when he was expelled by his father Rokomoutu.

From Ucunivanua, the children of Lutunasobasoba were sent on their way from Sovatabua, at Baravi o Walu, where Tuivanuakula won the great race. Miriama, a woman of Ucunivanua who has been tracing her roots, rang me the other day saying Tuivanuakula was a grandson of Rokomoutu and not his son as the mataki had told us.

That time, Rokomoutu was in a tight situation. He had expelled his dra tabu and could not go back on his word and as the Ulumatua had established his realm in Bua, someone had to take over at Ucunivanua because he was growing old. Just as well the Ulumatua did not run because all would have come under Bua.

When Romelasiga went his way, legend says he had a staff which he said he would plant where he established his realm.

There is a claim he first planted his staff at Nadoria and some say the seat of the Roko Tui Dreketi should be Nadoria and not Lomanikoro.

Where Romelasiga first planted his staff has been a subject of debate through the ages but as the mataki put it, Romelasiga may have planted his staff more than one time, where he would have rested on his sojourn and it did not mean that where he first planted it would be the seat of the Roko Tui Dreketi.

The story goes that before Lomanikoro, the Roko Tui Dreketi was on the other side of the river and looked after by the qase ni vale from the yavusa Danudanu.

Then there was a conspiracy.

The Roko Tui Dreketi was lured to the other side of the river by the yavusa Burenivalu who enticed him with the delicacy rourou vakautona and mana. They say the rourou vakautona and mana tasted so good the Roko Tui Dreketi wanted more but they told him if he crossed the river, he would eat what he had eaten everyday.

So he crossed to the other side and the Burenivalu clan took over as qase ni vale for the Roko Tui Dreketi. That is why Danudanu people and yavusa Burenivalu are veitabani.

What I have told you is what we were told by the mataki – the first chapter.

If you want to know more about Romelasiga and the second and third chapters, you have to go to Lomanikoro.

It is amazing what you can find out when you go back to your roots. We can trace our history back to Ucunivanua and no doubt Romelasiga's descendants learnt from the trip, as I did.

After all, Ucunivanua is where our ancestors were once.

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