After their ancestors were sold as slaves in 1871 and their lands taken away from them, the Lovoni people had a tough time re-establishing themselves again, after being away from their ancestral lands for a long time.
They were only allowed back to their lands in the early 1900s after a colonial government ruled that they be returned to their own lands. But their lands (200 acres of it) were not returned until recently.
A struggle that can only be done by a people determined to be their own masters again after suffering as slaves to others.
When the Lovoni people returned to their ancestral lands they had to physically etch a living from it since they were right in the middle of a volcanic caldera surrounded by massive stone cliffs with no road access to Levuka Town or the rest of Ovalau.
The only road available to them was the ancient paths used by their ancestors in their warring days. Using these paths, the Lovoni people were able to conduct business by carrying their cocoa, yaqona and other farm produce to Levuka or to send their children to schools in Bureta and Visoto Villages. Then in 1953 they finally decided to establish a school within the village compounds. The wood for the Lovoni Fijian School was cut from Nadarivatu, up in the Nausori highlands of Viti Levu while the sand was brought from Daku on Mokuriki.
The Lovoni men transported the logs and the sand upriver as there were no roads at the time.
Apart from this, the chosen site on which the school was to sit on, was a hill, and the Lovoni men had to practically cut the hill with their bare hands to create a flat area for the school.
They did this by harnessing a bullock yoke on the men who pulled the soil away to make it flat while others used their hands and digging forks and knives to cut the hill to size.
Then in 1956, the Lovoni people decided to cut the road that now runs from Bureta village right up to Lovoni village.
No modern or road building machinery was used as the Lovoni people again used their bare hands aided by digging forks, spades, axes and knives to carve the three mile road right to their village.
This took some time to finish and it was only when the road was near completion that a digger was finally given to them to finish off what they had actually started.
To this day, the road leading to Lovoni village is still classified as a feeder road and this is one major complaint the villagers have, because much of the road has not been repaired in the past years.
Then in 1964 the villagers decided to build a church. This time they sent 30 men to work in New Zealand as labourers to raise funds towards the building of the church.
The men who went never benefitted from a single cent they earned in New Zealand as all the money they earned was sent back to Lovoni to help build the church.
The church carpenter was a man from Daku in Tailevu, who can trace their ancestral roots to Lovoni. It took only six months to build the village church.
This is because work would begin from sunrise and would not finish until mid-night.
The Lovoni people have also seen their fair share of failure in the endeavour to develop themselves as a village.
One good example was the establishment of the village's co-operative scheme which was established in the 1980s.
It started off well with many businesses springing up in the village like cocoa planting, goat farming and yaqona.
But soon this became a failure as the co-op fell in heavy debt with many villagers not honouring their promises to pay back what they owe. To salvage this business venture, the Lovoni people took a loan from the Fiji Development Bank which was later declared as bad debt as they, again, could not repay.
This resulted in the falling out amongst the villagers as they could not work together again until they finally decided to try their hands again through a soli which was organised in 1991.
The call to the soli raised $37,000 which was used to buy Class A shares with the Fiji Holdings Limited. Now Lovoni owns 375,000 Class A shares in FHL and they earn 10 percent in dividends per pay out and this translates into an income of $34,000 per year.
The money earned from this investment was used to fund a scholarship for Lovoni villagers who wish to pursue higher education and also to pay $6,000 to their church reverend.
Last year, the village decided to cut out the scholarship fund but to bank all the dividend payments from the FHL in order to accumulate an investment fund that will be later used, to buy into other businesses.
This particular piece of information was not forthcoming from the villagers as in true iTaukei manner they prefer not to blow their own horns on their successes.
However, apart from this, the villagers continue looking for their own sources of income for their individual families, with several owning vehicles which serve as the lifeline to this isolated village.
Slowly but surely, Lovoni is developing into a well organised village that their ancestors had worked hard for by the brows of their sweat and the power of their limbs when they first etched out a road to lead the people of Lovoni to Fiji and the rest of the world.