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Unity through a chief's wisdom

Sikeli Qounadovu
Sunday, July 16, 2017

WHEN Ratu Levu arrived at Soso from Burebasaga, Rewa leaving behind his 11 sons and wife, he did not have an army. Over time, his wisdom and good heart united a great army on Kadavu, the army of the Tui Naceva. It was never defeated nor did it surrender.

His name became known throughout Kadavu and his 11 sons were installed as chiefs in different parts of the island.

He had the ability to unite a great army and the wisdom to solve conflicts and differences without much uprising but when he sent his army to war, they were a force to reckon.

In all of Naceva on the eastern side of the island, only one army had refused to accept Ratu Levu's proposal and come under his rule. It was the army of the Tui Vukavu, which had been led by their ancestor Taveta. Taveta had led their migration from Nakauvadra.

Taveta had refused Ratu Levu's proposal and decided to remain in the hills overlooking Soso.

Vukavu commanded a crucial point on a hilltop with a 180 decrees bird's eye view of the the ocean. From Vukavu, approaching war canoes could be see when still far out at sea. That was why Ratu Levu wanted Vukavu

After the death of Taveta, his two sons did not agree on who was to lead, the Matai clan wanted Butunasara and they installed him as the Tui Matai. However the Matainabala clan wanted Tokasara and while they did not traditionally install him, they still looked up to him as their leader.

Thus the vanua was split in two.

Who was Ravuravu?

The Matainabala clan then brought in Ravuravu a strong, fierce and wise warlord. They installed him as the first Tui Vukavu. Not much is known about Ravuravu, accept as stated by the Takala-i-Naceva, Josaia Votonimalu, that Ravuravu gained the trust and respect of the Matainabala clan.

The Tui Matai seeing Ravuravu's hard work and strength, feared the Tui Vukavu would unite them, so he sought help.

Mr Votonimalu added Ravuravu was later buried in the village. According to the kaidravuni website Ravuravu, the god of the Yavusa Natusara was buried at Dravuni.

Here is an account from the website: "Ravuravu's ancestry account up to this point can be said to aptly cover the period of the last 3500 years, up to the point when the first ancestors arrived in Fiji. Before that, it is impossible to give any reasonable account whatsoever.

"Ravuravu (on the Degei side of the extended family) had a hand in the aftermath of the race; and as such, played a conciliatory and mentoring role to appease and consolidate relations between the families of half-brothers: Lutunasobasoba and Kubunavanua, on one hand and Degei and his siblings, on the other, all sons of Tura."

The late Paula Tagivetaua wrote in The Fiji Times on March 27 and 24 April 2011 that Ravuravu accompanied Tuivanuakula aka Kubunavanua from Verata essentially as his protector. But he was the young chief's mentor as well.

On reaching Moala, dissension took hold and a rebellion was brewing as to Kubunavanua's claim to the chiefly title on the island. A meeting was convened and resolved that claimants to the chiefly position would participate in a vakalade sau, trial or test.

The test was to jump off the highest point on Moala and to land on rocks below. The winner would be declared the chief, the holder of the sau, or mana.

Ravuravu, as protector of the young Kubunavanua, opted to jump on his behalf. It was his duty to do so.

As it turned out, he was the sole survivor of the jump. All others perished on the rocks below.

It is told that he landed on one foot, and how that saved the warrior, it will not be known. But survive he did. Moreover, he decreed that the sau was to remain with Kubunavanu.

It was on Moala where the entourage separated. Kubunavanua went on to Totoya. Ravuravu, having achieved his mission, opted for Vanuavatu where, he said, he was going to plant his own food and catch his own fish. He told his young apprentice: "I'll do all that but will not bring any sevu, first harvest, to you."

Ravuravu and his clan settled on Vanuavatu after a journey which had started below the Medrausucu Range near Nadakuni, in Naitasiri today. It can be envisaged that when Ravuravu opted to go to Vanuavatu, he was returning to his own close clan members. He may have been there already when he was requested by Rokomautu to accompany the young Tuivanuakula after the cici ni turaga.

The Takala-i-Naceva said Ravuravu was at Naqaqa when the request came from the Matainabala clan for him to be their leader.

Seeing the ability of the Tui Vukavu, the Tui Matai finally sought the assistance of the Tui Naceva at Soso.

"E na gugumatua ni turaga oqo sa vaka ena vauci ira taucoko na i wase ruarua. Sa mani lewa ko Butunasara, na Tui Matai me ratou sa lakova e dua na nodratou na turaga ki Soso, Naceva me laki liutaki iratou, e mani lako mai kina ko Ratu. (Fearing the Tui Vukavu would unite all of them, Butunasara the Tui Matai sent for Ratu who was at Soso, to come and lead them.)

"Ni yaco mai na turaga oqo e ratou sa mani buli koya sara vakavanua me liutaki iratou ka yacana buli na Takala-i-Naceva. Sa i koya na turaga oqo ka qai mai vakacokotataki keimami, o koya ka qai yacana kina ko Naisogoceva." (When he arrived he was installed as the Takala-i-Naceva. He was the one who mended all relationship and we finally became one vanua, known as the yavusa o Naisogoceva).

Mr Votonimalu referred to that chief as Ratu but did not say who his name was.

According to the Tui Naceva, Ratu Jona Donumaitoga, and in an article published two weeks ago, after Ratu Levu sent his 11 sons to be chiefs in areas around the island, two remained with him in the district of Naceva, Ratu Nawa the second oldest remained at Soso and succeeded him as Tui Naceva.

One could therefore say if Ratu Nawa remained, then it is most likely it was Ratu Levu who went to Vukavu, because of its pivotal and crucial position. One needs to see how Ratu solved the conflict and differences of the people of Vukavu and reunited their household.

As is one of his many trademarks, Ratu Levu did not unite a family or an army through wars or treachery but through his wisdom and good heart. For it is this attributes that gained the respect and support of many.

Today this is the structure of the yavusa o Naisogoceva

The chief — (Takala-i-naceva)

Mataqali — Nadulewalu

Tokatoka — Nabulewalu, Mataiburotu, Valeco, Navutu, Matai and Nasea.

Mataqali Vukavu

Tokatoka — Vukavu, Naqa, Matainabala, Naisaumakicri, Nabua and Valekalou.

In Vukavu, the Tui Vukavu is the sub-ordinate chief to the Takala-i-Naceva. Both come under the guidance and rule of the Tui Naceva.

"Sa oti na vei lakovi e Soso o raotu na mataqali Vukavu ratou qai soli tutu vua na Takala-i-Naceva. Na i yaya taucoko dau qaravi kina o Tui Vukavu sa toki taki mai me qaravi kina o Takala-i-Naceva.(The Tui Vukavu had given the leadership title and agreed that everyone else serve the Takala-i-Naceva.)

"Ia keitou na Takala-i-Naceva keitou dau vamenamenea na Tui Vukavu baleta koya soli tutu." (For us the Takala-i-naceva clan we will respect the Tui Vukavu because he gave us this leadership title.)

According to the Takala-i-Naceva, when the vanua of Naisogoceva was finally united, it was a force to reckon with. The village was never defeated nor did it surrender in battle.

He added the great warlord Koroi Ratu waged war and was never defeated, such was his fame and prowess that neighbouring villages requested his assistance. His battle axe is today still kept in the village.

Interestingly the blade is made of metal, probably acquired through trade.

"Ia dua ga na leqa ni ra solia mai na qele me i sau ni nona ivalu koya bese, koya vinakata ga na yalewa; sau yalewa ga." (When he was given land as spoils of war for guiding villages to victory he declined, he only wanted women.)

"Nona lako mai o Ravuravu, lako tu ga mai me mai sevusevu baleta ni rogoca ni tiko talega e ke na Nauluvatu, nanuma tiko me lako talega e Soso me lai sevusevu talega kina e na i sema vata kece ga o Nauluvatu. Na i sema vinaka duadua oya nona nanuma me lai tukuna vei Tui Naceva me tucake tiko vaka vinaka ena nona i tutu vaka Tui Naceva, e sega ni turaga lailai.

"Na Uluinaceva tiko mai Bau na Tui Naceva tiko e Soso, na Takala-i-Naceva e tiko e Vukavu, tukuna me keimami qai semata ga. (Ravuravu had presented his isevusevu to the Tui Naceva, because he knew his traditional ties. He advised the Tui Naceva to never be ashamed and always remember that he is a supreme chief on the island.)

* Next week we travel to Dravuwalu Village.

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