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Iosefo's gift of his-storytelling

Friday, January 05, 2018

Update: 9:04PM WITH the gift of story-telling, 56-year-old Iosefo Rapuga has attracted people from around the country who seek the stories and legends about the island of Taveuni.

The Turaga ni Mataqali of Naitu in Bouma, Taveuni, said after his father passed away in 1998, the island's stories his father often told was directly passed on to him.

Being the youngest and the only boy of seven siblings, Mr Rapuga said his older sisters could not fathom as to how the knowledge was passed onto him.

"All the stories and legends got passed onto me and my older sisters thought I would not know or remember any of the stories because I hardly listened to my father when he spoke of them," he said.

"We then came to sit down as a family, they then asked me how come they didn't have the gift of knowledge about the island's history.

"I hardly listened to the stories but I know of them becauase it is a gift and it must be told as these are the stories of our land and of our people."

He said by the year 1999, he had started telling the stories of Taveuni's histories.

One, in particular, was his explanation of the Tagimoucia flower and how it had lost its fragrance.

Mr Rapuga said the Tagimoucia flower had a strong and beautiful fragrance that used to cloud the island of Taveuni.

However, years ago, the flower's fragrance was taken away after the tragic death of the Ravouvou (prince) of Laucala Island.

"The Tagimoucia flower originated when the daughter of the Tui Lekutu (then) fell in love with the Ravouvou (Prince) of Laucala.

"They were very much in love, however, some people of Lekutu did not approve of the Ravouvou so they killed him without the knowledge of the Vunivalu na Tui Lekutu.

"The Ravouvou was very handsome, however, when he was killed by the villagers, the Raluve (princess) of Lekutu was completely hurt and shattered."

He said this was how the flower originated out of the prince's death, blossomed the beautiful Tagimoucia flower.

"The Tagimoucia flower has three layers; the first is red, the second is white while the core of the flower is shaped like a queen's crown and has a golden outing. When this part of the flower bursts, it gives out rainbow colours which after five minutes turns purple.

"After the death of the Ravouvou of Laucala, his 'vu' (demigods) attempted to steal the Tagimoucia flower from Lekutu. But he was not successful so he instead stole its fragrance and dropped it near the shores of Qamea Island."

He also said until this day, if someone picked a Tagimoucia flower, the fragrance could be smelled on the beaches of Qamea Island.

Mr Rapuga who is also the current Matanivanua i Vunisa (spokesperson) said with the gift of storytelling, academics, researchers, tourists and people from around Fiji would gather at his home, curious to listen to the tales of the forefathers of Taveuni.

"By 1999, I was able to tell of these stories. They asked me how come they didn't know. I told them this is the people's story. It cannot be given to you because you would one day leave our home to be married off while as for me, I would stay here."

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