IT was a proud moment for the people of Rewa and the whole of the Burebasaga confederacy yesterday as two war clubs signifying the acceptance of Christianity in the province were returned to them.
The war clubs were returned to the paramount chief of Rewa, Ro Teimumu Kepa, after 174 years by two descendants of Fiji's first missionary Reverend William Cross.
The two war clubs were given by the Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Banuve Kania, to William Cross when he accepted Christianity in the year 1839.
Returning the war clubs in Lomanikoro, the fifth generation descendant of Cross, 75-year-old Rob Quarmby a retired farmer of Sydney Australia, said his first recollections of the two war clubs was when he was a six-year-old sitting by his 80-year-old grandmother's chair.
Mr Quarmby said his grandmother received the two war clubs from her grandfather who was the husband of Lucie Anne Cross, the youngest daughter of the late reverend.
"My grandmother told me the story of how the clubs were handed to Cross by the great Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Banuve Kania, who became the first leader to embrace Christianity," he said.
Mr Quarmby said Cross then gifted the clubs to his daughter.
"To me the clubs were something someone gave my grandmother and there was no sense of belonging."
He said he was able to associate the club to Fiji following his introduction to the country in 1954 when his family went to watch a rugby test match between Fiji and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
"On returning home I told my grandmother that the Fijians ran onto the ground barefoot, and then prayed in the rain before kicking off. From that day I was able to associate the clubs with a nation," Mr Quarmby said.
He said it was his dream to have the clubs returned to their homeland one day.
"Today (yesterday) is the day my dream comes true, returning the clubs home after more than 160 years.
"This is one of the best days of my life," he said
Mr Quarmby said the clubs remained the way they were given and the only thing done to them within those 160 years was to be cleaned with virgin olive oil after accumulating a lot of dust.
Accepting the clubs on behalf of the proovince of Rewa, Ro Teimumu thanked the family for keeping safe what her chiefs gave years ago.
The paramount chief of Rewa said the clubs were a symbolic gift not only for for the people of Rewa but also for all or the vanua with traditional alliances with the Burebasaga confederacy.
"I thank the families for the significant gift," Ro Teimumu said yesterday. "It is symbolic."
Ro Teimumu said the war clubs showed the importance of the life of the vanua.
The vanua of Rewa along with the Burebasaga Confederacy also marked the 175th anniversary of Cross's arrival in the village of Lomanikoro.