TEARS flowed as the late Tui Tavua Ratu Jale Weisele Kuwe Ratu was finally laid to rest near his chiefly home at Tavualevu Village yesterday.
As a sea of mourners packed the Tavualevu Methodist Church to bid Ratu Jale farewell, a light shower drizzled over his coffin as it made its way into the church for the final homecoming service.
Hundreds of people gathered inside the church and crammed into makeshift sheds to pay their final respects to a leader considered as someone committed to serving his people.
Young children, women and men from the traditional chiefly villages in the country, were present to farewell the late Tui Tavua.
His coffin, adorned with exquisitely woven mats, was carried through a sea of mourners who lined the path from his chiefly home of Navotukuyawa to the Sautabu where the late chief was finally laid to rest.
A deep sadness was felt by the people of Tavualevu Village who shed tears for the man they saw as a visionary who wanted only the best for his people.
Present at the church service were the Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa, Marama na Tui Ba Adi Laite Koroirua, Ratu Epenisa Cakobau and Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.
While delivering his eulogy on behalf of the Kubuna confederacy, Ratu Tu'uakitau Cokanauto said Ratu Jale was committed to his role as the Tui Tavua.
He said the late chief had heard the call of his people despite living in the United States for more than 10 years.
Ratu Tu'uakitau said Ratu Jale sacrificed his work in US and his duty to his family by taking up the huge responsibility that came with accepting the chiefly title.
Echoing similar sentiments was Ratu Jale's cousin Ratu Inoke Bokini who spoke on behalf of the chiefly family of Navotukuyawa.
Ratu Inoke said the 70-year-old Ratu Jale was a man who thought "out of the box".
An emotional Ratu Inoke said Ratu Jale did not beat around the bush when it came to making decisions concerning the vanua.
"He was very direct and went straight to the point," he said.
Ratu Inoke said the late chief was someone who cared for his people and wanted to see Tavualevu Village and Tavua Town grow through developments that would benefit all.
Ratu Jale is survived by his wife Adi Filomena Ratu, four children and 12 grandchildren.