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The pathway of Lutunasobasoba

Avinesh Gopal
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

HIS house sits on top of the mountain range.

It is said to be in the middle of the path taken by Lutunasobasoba and his family when they arrived in Fiji.

There is peace and tranquility at this place in the Nadarivatu highlands, with an amazing view reaching far out.

Apart from peace, tranquility and the nice view, there are also stories of people feeling and seeing the spirits of their ancestors in the area.

The area is known as Lewa, where Lutunasobasoba is said to have once lived with his family after starting his journey from Vuda in Lautoka.

It is documented that Lutunasobasoba was the first iTaukei to arrive in Fiji but there are recent claims that he was not the first.

Some people claim that the first iTaukei landed at Vitawa in Rakiraki and they settled in the Nakauvadra mountain range.

There are claims by villagers of Vatusekiyasawa in Rakiraki that the first iTaukei to arrive in Fiji was their ancestor Tuiwai.

Villagers in Rakiraki and even Nadarivatu have stated that people were already in Fiji when Lutunasobasoba arrived and started his walk through the mountain ridges.

According to stories, Lutunasobasoba, his family and other people arrived at Vuda in Lautoka on board the Kaunitoni.

From there, they are said to have ventured out through the mountain range, starting from Sabeto and ending up in the highlands in the centre of Viti Levu.

But there seems to be some confusion on where he is buried, as there are claims of his grave being at various places.

However, as far as the Tui Cawanisa of Savatu, Ratu Semisi Ketewai is concerned, Lutunasobasoba was buried at Lewa.

Ratu Semisi, 87, a paramount chief in Nadarivatu, said after setting off from the mountain range in Sabeto, Lutunasobasoba arrived at Lewa, where he stayed for some time.

"This is the path taken by Lutunasobasoba and my house sits right in the middle of the tualeita," he said while pointing out to the pathway.

"From the stories passed down by my forefathers, I know that Lutunasobasoba died in Bukuya (in the interior of Ba) and he was buried there.

"But at night, some warriors exhumed his body and buried it at Lewa. It's at a place where no one will imagine a person can go to.

"Lutunasobasoba's grave is at a place just near the source of the Sigatoka River in the Nadarivatu highlands."

Ratu Semisi said the grave is in a cave and it is extremely difficult for any person to reach that spot.

A few years ago, my colleague Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula made an attempt to visit Lutunasobasoba's grave, which is reportedly in Lewa.

"I had to use a rope to go down the cliff and reach near the cave.

"There's water dripping at the mouth of the cave. And villagers say that if that water touches your body, then you will get skin diseases," said Mr Ravula.

The mountain range where Lutunasobasoba is said to have been buried is visible from the road leading to FEA's hydro power stations.

By looking at the place from a distance, one can only imagine how people could reach that place and bury someone in a cave.

Ratu Semisi also revealed that the land at Lewa was cursed before, probably because of the tribal wars and cannibalism.

But, he believes that after Lutunasobasoba was buried in Lewa, the mana (good luck) started surfacing for the villagers.

"Nothing could be planted on the land before. But after Lutunasobasoba was buried in Lewa, the land has become fertile.

"Lutunasobasoba had some kind of mana (good luck) and the fruits of it are being seen now with the hydro electric projects in the area."

Ratu Semisi also revealed for the first time that he is a direct descendant of Lutunasobasoba, saying he had blood ties.

He said his late father, Ratu Peni Nagata, who is buried metres away from his house and in the middle of the pathway, did not tell anyone about their connection to Lutunasobasoba.

Also, he said the spirits of their ancestors could be seen and felt on the pathway from time to time.

His wife Silika Ketewai said she could always feel the spirits of their ancestors moving around in the area.

"When Ratu goes somewhere and I'm alone at home, I can see someone walking past our house," she said.

"And when I wait to see who it is and for that person to come around and call us, there's no one there. It happens all the time but they don't harm anyone.

"It appears that the spirits of the ancestors just want to show us that they are around and maybe they want to tell us something."

Mrs Ketewai said she does not feel afraid when she sees someone walking past the house.

She says she has become used to it.

While there is no confirmation that Lutunasobasoba's grave is really at Lewa, there are also claims of it being in some other part of Viti Levu.

Also related to Lutunasobasoba's stories is that of the start of the tribal war in the highlands by some people who were related to him.

* NEXT WEEK: The cause of the tribal war.

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