Soul living: The essence of Fijian life
19 March, 2023, 8:00 pm
BEING away from home can make one crave what they took so lightly such as the comfort of family, conversations and food.
Similarly, an article in The Fiji Times on Monday, March 19, 1962, shared a story of four Fijian men who were recruited the previous year in Suva to work onboard Cable and Wireless Ltd’s cable repair ship Retriever (4000 tons).
They were Mr H. E. Johansen, Aminiasi Vulavou, Filipe Wainibuli and Susitino Lasagavibau. The ship had arrived in Suva from the UK and was expected to sail for Auckland on March 20, 1962.
A ship’s spokesman said that the Retriever was employed in preparation for the laying of the compact British Commonwealth round the world telephone link.
The Fijian men were happy to be back at Suva and one of their first meal orders was a meal of dalo. Aminiasi had told The Fiji Times of how they all missed their dalo and were on a Spanish diet as most of the crew were Spanish, consuming mostly potatoes and oily food.
Being onboard the ship gave them the opportunity to expand their linguistic knowledge as they had learnt to speak Spanish fluently.
“We just had to learn how to speak the language because most of the men can’t speak English,” Aminiasi said. While the work had proven to be hard they enjoyed every minute of it and during that time they learned the finer points of cable-layering work.
A ships officer told The Fiji Times that the boys were ‘good working units as they were conscientious and hardworking’.
While in Suva, the men got to spend all their time meeting friends and relatives and on one Saturday evening the Naval Association gave them a cocktail party at the Masonic Hall.
Aminiasi’s family also arranged luncheon and he took a number of friends from the ship with him to experience the essence of Fijian life.