THE chiefly village of Cuvu, Nadroga, came to a standstill yesterday as it bid farewell to the paramount chief of Nadroga Navosa, Ratu Sakiusa Makutu.
About 500 people converged on Cuvu to pay their last respects to a great leader who sacrificed his time and resources for the good of others.
It was an emotional moment as traditional warriors guarded their fallen chief from his chiefly home of Nakuruvakarua to his final resting place at the traditional burial ground.
Dressed in black, women with their heads bowed silently wiped their tears as the coffin was escorted by the Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa.
There was pin-drop silence in the village as people from all walks of life paid their last respects to the late chief, who was described as a man of the people.
Bau chief Ratu Tu'uakitau Cokanauto, while delivering his eulogy on behalf of the Kubuna confederacy, said Ratu Sakiusa was a great chief who respected people of all races. He said the high chief cared and loved all people who asked for his assistance.
He said the late chief was a humble leader who placed the welfare of his people before himself.
Ratu Tu'uakitau said the high chief was born a leader and, at the same time, served his people to the best of his ability.
He said Nadroga had lost a true and noble leader who always championed the vanua and his people.
Ratu Tu'uakitau also requested the people of Nakuruvakarua to appoint a suitable replacement to follow in the same footsteps of the late chief.
A representative of the yavusa Louvatu, Mesulame Rakuro, also echoed similar sentiments, saying Ratu Sakiusa had left behind a legacy that would be hard to follow.
He said his death had left a huge vacuum in the vanua of Nakuruvakarua.
Mr Rakuro said the late chief always supported developments that were brought to the village for the benefit of its people.
He said Ratu Sakiusa was a generous man who always championed traditional obligations and always had time for his people.
Methodist Church of Fiji general secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra commended the late chief's contribution to the development of the Methodist Church.
Former church president Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca delivered the sermon at the requiem service before the burial took place.
Other dignitaries who attended the funeral were the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and First Lady Adi Koila, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, marama na Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa, Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, Tui Namosi Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, Works Minister Timoci Natuva and Commissioner Western Commander Joeli Cawaki.
Ratu Sakiusa is survived by his wife Torika Lotu and five children Adi Litia, Adi Asenaca, Ratu Tevita, Ratu Penijiamini and Ratu Timoci.
The high chief died at the age of 66.