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A bu or two for your thirst

Solomoni Biumaiono
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SITTING under the posts of a corrugated-iron house near Grantham Rd in Suva sheltering from the rain were 21-year-old Turubeo Moceica and 19-year-old Alipate Vulagi.

These two young men are part of the group of men who usually sell bu (green coconuts) along that stretch of road.

They are usually known as the bu boys and are easily identified with their flour sacks scouring the Suva suburbs for green coconuts.

Both young men were born and bred at Jittu Estate in Suva with Moceica originally from Naitasiri while Vulagi hails from Tailevu.

Moceica dropped out of school at Class Eight while Vulagi dropped out at Form Three and while both guys recount their daily struggles, one of their main concerns is the stigma bu boys have to live with.

"I am glad that you have come around because we have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time because we have always been blamed for many crimes that happen around here," Vulagi says.

The Tailevu lad says the bu boys are usually blamed for every crime that happens within a 100 metres of their bu stand at Grantham Rd.

"It's just because it happens near where we usually sell our bu. We're conducting our business and we do not know all these people and crimes but we get blamed for it.

"Usually it is the victims who point the finger at us and yes, the police they know that many times they (the victims) wrongly blame us but it's just the victims who just point their fingers at us straight away," Vulagi adds.

Another aspect he says that his group of bu boys cannot be blamed for is for stealing coconuts because they have their own policy, which is to respect the property owners.

"If we approach people to get coconuts from their compounds is rejected, we have to back off but we still have to look for coconuts because this is our livelihood and even if we have to travel long distances," Vulagi says.

Moceica and Vulagi both admitted they have to manage to get by with the money they earned from selling bu.

"We usually earn at least $100 a week from selling bu but you see there are many of us and not just the two of us who put our bu together here. That is in a good week but in bad weather we can only earn say $40 a week," Moceica says.

He adds all men bring their coconuts and sell it all together at the table but each will only take home the money earned from the number of green coconuts they sell.

"Like today we brought 20 coconuts each and we take turns selling our coconuts and that is how it is done here. There were three of us here in the morning but the third man decided to take his coconuts which he will sell from door to door."

The Naitasiri lad, however, is seriously considering a career change and wants paid employment instead of standing by the roadside selling bu.

He has been frustrated in the past with his efforts to seek a job because a class eight drop-out is not exactly something many employers look for.

"Can we ask for a job through you?" Moceica asked. "Yes, I have looked for jobs in the past but many require qualifications but really I would want to have a job because selling bu is not the same as having a job."

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