Baravilala’s ode to Cessna victims

Mosese Baledrokadroka (centre) with Iliesa Baravilala (left), Jimmy Subhaydas and Makare members in Nadi. Picture: SUPPLIED/BIGWILZ

Mosese Baledrokadroka (centre) with Iliesa Baravilala (left), Jimmy Subhaydas and Makare members in Nadi. Picture: SUPPLIED/BIGWILZ

MORE than 20 years after they first became musical acquaintances as members of renowned iTaukei music group Kalokalocavu Mai Koromakawa in Levuka, Master Iliesa Baravilala and Mosese Baledrokadroka ran into each other again.

And while their first meeting in 1997 was a happy affair, their reunion early last week was rather an emotional one.

Baravilala had just penned the lyrics to his latest song — Voca Ni Cessna Dua Vitu Rua — an ode to the two airmen who died in the Cessna 172 training aircraft that crashed into the side of a cliff in Delaikoro, Labasa on February 26.

The two people who lost their lives in the tragedy were Pacific Flying School instructor Iliesa Tawalo and trainee Merelesita Lutu.

Mr Tawalo was Baledrokadroka’s stepson.

“When I heard about the aircraft that went missing, it just reminded me of the PC121 incident in July 1999 where 17 people died,” Baravilala shared.

“It’s such a sad time for all of Fiji and the deaths of two young people just reminds each one of us just how fragile life is.

“And what made the Cessna 172 story more sad was the fact that one of my closest friends and musical compatriots had lost a very dear family member in his stepson, Iliesa Tawalo.

“It was all these emotions that were running through me and my thoughts were with Moji (Baledrokadroka) that I decided to put pen to paper on Thursday, March 1 and composed this song.

“Losing a loved one is never easy and losing a beloved family member this way is even harder still.

“I just hope that this song will help Moji and his family cope with the tragedy and I also hope that in years to come, future generations will be able to listen to this song and remember the events of February 26 and the efforts of those involved in search and the brave men who went beyond the call of duty to find the wreckage and bring some closure to both families.”

For Mosese Baledrokadroka, being called up by a Fijian music legend of Baravilala’s stature was an honour that he has never forgotten.

“I used to sing with the Four Seasons Group and that band had a lot of well-known musicians like Naba (renowned iTaukei guitarist),” said Baledrokadroka.

“So when Master Iliesa asked me to join Kalokalocavu Mai Koromakawa, I was very surprised and very happy.”

The duo met at Simi Rova’s Whispering Groove Studio in Martintar, Nadi, in June 2016 where they had an impromptu reunion with Jimmy Subhaydas and re-recorded Nodaru Veitalatala.

More recently, they discussed the passing of his stepson Mr Tawalo in the Cessna 172 tragedy.

Baravilala informed Baledrokadroka that he had composed a song to commemorate the tragic event and also to honour the late Mr Tawalo and trainee pilot Ms Lutu.

“He told me that Jale Mareau was going to record the song and I am humbled that Master Iliesa is honouring my stepson’s memory this way,” Baledrokadroka shared.

Baravilala met Baledrokadroka in Levuka, Ovalau, in 1997.

He said from the moment he first heard Baledrokadroka sing and play the ukulele, the renowned composer and artist knew he would be a perfect fit for his group — Kalokalocavu Mai Koromakawa.

“Our original ukulele player and third harmony singer, Apete, passed away in 1997 and I was looking around for someone to replace him,” said Baravilala.

“And it had been quite difficult because Apete had such a unique voice. He was one of the reasons Kalokalocavu was so popular.

“With Jimmy Subhaydas singing lead, me singing second and Apete providing the third harmony, we really had a very different sound and it was hard to find someone who could provide that same combination until I heard Moji.

“I first heard him singing at the Evergreen Grog Shop — where the old MH used to be.

“I used to stop there after teaching and have a bowl of kava there.

“When I heard him singing, I was really surprised because after the loss of Apete, I didn’t think I would hear another voice that would be able to match his.

“But Moji had the voice that I was looking for.

“I approached him and we began to rehearse with Jimmy Subhaydas and it’s Moji’s melodic and colourful voice together with Jimmy’s that you hear on one of our biggest hits — Nodaru Veitalatala.”

Baledrokadroka spent three years with Kalokalocavu Mai Koromakawa from 1997 to 1999 before moving to other parts of the country and settling in the Western Division.

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