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Fiji Time: 3:40 AM on Saturday 19 April

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A mysterious site with dark tales

Avinesh Gopal
Tuesday, December 24, 2013

IT is a mysterious place at an ancient village site in the Nakauvadra mountain range.

The ancient village is said to have been ruined in 1819.

No one lived at the site until 1990 when four brothers moved there with their families.

Since then, the residents of the new village have been experiencing weird things, including the disappearance of their cooked food.

But one particular spot in the new village is regarded by the villagers as "dangerous" because the place has taken lives.

Although those who died there were not human beings but animals, villagers are nevertheless fearful of that particular spot.

However, they will not move from the place as it is sacred ground for them — a place where their ancestors lived and died.

It is the story of the new Buka Village, passed down the generations and experienced by the villagers who occupy their ancestors' land now.

The village is located at exactly the same spot as the ancient Buka Village, at the foot of the Nakauvadra mountain range.

Surrounded by mango trees and the mountain range in the background, one would not imagine that a village is located there.

A river that runs next to the ancient village site is used by the villagers for bathing and washing while their drinking water comes from the mountains.

It was a place that I frequently visited during my primary school days, with the entire holidays spent in the area, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

While I had also experienced some strange or rather spooky things during my visits to the spot, I did not know then that I used to roam freely on sacred ground.

The river used by the villagers then and now is the same one that I and my relatives used to bathe in, at the same time hearing the faint voices of people in the nearby bushes.

It was only after my return to the site recently after almost 30 years for a different purpose that I came to know about its history and the voices I used to hear.

The headman of the new Buka Village, Jone Duicagi, and his fellow villagers agreed that some of the things that I experienced during my visits there as a child were true.

And he even pointed out the exact spots where my relatives once had their homes, with one on the Mataibuka hills and the other just next to the river.

Mr Duicagi said the site of the new village was exactly the same place where their ancestors used to live during the tribal war when cannibalism was rife.

He said people were killed and eaten at the Kanakana bridge, which is a few hundred metres away from the new village.

From the stories passed down by his ancestors, he said the ancient Buka Village was ruined in 1819 but he was unaware of the exact reasons.

A documented account by George T Barker states the natives attacked the ancient village and killed all men and saved the women.

Mr Barker had presented a paper at the Fijian Society meeting on December 18, 1923, on the coming and going of the Buka men to the upper Wainibuka River.

In his presentation, he mentioned a village that was abandoned about 100 years before he presented the paper and said its name was Buka.

He wrote that a party of men landed at the mouth of the Yaqara River and went up to the Nakauvadra mountains, where they were welcomed by some villagers hardpressed by their enemies from the interior.

Furthermore, he wrote that the men called themselves Buka or Bouka men and they called their village or the natives did it for them — Bouka.

Mr Barker wrote that bad feelings crept in when the men tried or did entice the native women away.

While about 20 men and some women took advantage of a flood and departed down the river, the other men at the ancient village were killed by the natives.

There are only four houses at the new Buka Village and the remnants of about two centuries ago, like house mounds, can be seen at some places in the village surroundings.

But what makes the place intriguing is that the spirits of those who once lived there more than two centuries ago are said to be still around.

Mr Duicagi said villagers often heard people talking in their surroundings but checks revealed that no one was around.

He said the spirits of their ancestors had also come to them in different forms.

"It is not an easy place to live in because this is the same spot where the old Buka Village was and it's haunted," said the devoted Christian, who also preaches in church sometimes.

"Strange things have been happening here every now and then, particularly the disappearance of food from the pots.

"But there is a very dangerous spot in the village yard. Nothing grows there and animals tied there have died, so we have stopped tying our animals there.

"Horses, cows, bullocks and pigs that we tied at the spot died within hours for reasons that are unknown to us.

"Also, trees that have been planted do not grow big.

"A mango tree and some coconut trees there have not grown big for the past 10 years or so."

Mr Duicagi said villagers had stopped planting in the area, saying they only cleaned the place.

He said there was rich soil at that particular spot but it was unfortunate that nothing grew big.

"We really don't know what is there that animals died within a short time after being tied there and even trees don't grow big.

"But we can feel the spirits of our ancestors around sometimes and food still disappears from the pots, with even no bones found anywhere near.

"This place is haunted and we know that the spirits of our ancestors are around us at all times but they don't harm us.

"We will remain here because our refuge is God."

Although the place is haunted and weird things have been experienced by the villagers and others, it is a place where there is peace and tranquility.

It is a place that is sacred for many people and it has been protected by them in the best possible way they can despite whatever they have been experiencing since settling there.

But it is yet to be ascertained, as believed by some people, if Buka Village has any connection to Buka Island off the Solomon Islands.