Sailasa’s cherished memory

Sailasa Raivakadua Tuivuna at his home in Valelevu. Picture: LOSALINI VUKI

FIJI’S independence from the British colonial rule back in 1970 is a treasured memory, says Sailasa Raivakadua Tuivuna, 73.

It was an auspicious time for a small island to be independent said Mr Tuivuna in an interview at his home in Valelevu this week.

During that time, Mr Tuivuna recalled carrying the mace before and after independence in 1970. He was 25 years old at the time.

“It was a very emotional moment for me,” he said.

“I often asked myself, why I was chosen out of the other thousands of police officers during that time. I was touched and moved and it was a happy moment not just for me but for my family as well.”

He added the old parliament at government buildings had a grog place for the members during recess hour at 10am.

“One day, during recess I was called to serve grog and Ratu George Kadavulevu called me and said “cauravou, ivei na nomu koro?” He asked me where I was from. I saluted and replied from the Yasawa in Naviti, from the Village of Soso, Sir.” Then he told me “sa donu sara tu ga na nomu tu qo; o colata sara tu ga qori na nomudou kau.” He said I was the logical person to carry the mace because it belonged to my family.

At that time, Mr Tuivuna said the chiefs in parliament were Ratu George Cakobau, Ratu Mara, Ratu Tui, Ratu Penaia for the Alliance Party and the opposition was AD Patel and SM Koya.

“They had great debates in the house,” said Mr Tuivuna.

“I would be sitting below in front of Ratu Mara and the mace in front of me. It was so interesting and always exciting to listen to their intelligent debates — I never wanted to sleep just hearing these debates in the house. Those were the days.”

Mr Tuivuna entered the police force in 1964.

Four years in the force, he said he was assigned to be the bearer of the mace when the legislative council met and later when the house of representatives met in parliament. “A lot has changed over the years,” he said.

“But I think celebrating Fiji Day plays a vital role. It’s a time where we not only come together to remember what happened 48 years ago but also a time where we could reflect on our ourselves, families and communities. As a multicultural nation, all we need is a lot of love and kindness. A very happy Fiji Day to people celebrating here and abroad.”

More Stories