THE vanua of Nakelo came to a standstill yesterday as family members and villagers gathered to pay their last respect to the Tui Nakelo, Ratu Manasa Talakuli.
The former British Army officer, 74, was accorded a full traditional funeral as traditional warriors guarded the village parameters before he was finally laid to rest at the chiefly burial ground at Nauluvatu, Nakelo.
Tears flowed at his funeral service when eulogies were delivered to honour the life of a great chief, a leader and example not only to the vanua of Nakelo but to every Fijian.
His seat in church was also wrapped in black cloth to signify his passing.
Among the mourners were Bau chiefs Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, Adi Litia Cakobau and the Tui Vuda, Ratu Eparama Kitione Tavaiqia, as well as relatives and family members from Sawaieke, Gau, where he had maternal links.
Also present were representatives from the British High Commission and former British Army officers who served with the late Ratu Manasa in the Royal British Legion.
Village spokesman Poasa Ratu, in delivering the vanua's eulogy, said Ratu Manasa was a chief who cared for his people.
"When he returned to Fiji upon his retirement from the army, he did a number of great things for us," Mr Ratu said.
"Thirteen cattle were slaughtered and distributed to the 13 villages in Nakelo just to thank his people when he was away serving in the army.
"He never said no whenever I approached him for something and he was always willing to help his people in any means."
Ratu Manasa was married to the late Adi Samanunu Talakuli Cakobau and they are survived by their only son Ratu Josefa Natuituba Talakuli.
The late chief, a former student of Queen Victoria School, spent 31 years in service with the British Army and also graduated with a BA in Political Science and Bachelor in Law (LLB) and also held the position of a security adviser to the Sultan of Brunei.