The first Tui Cakau

THE first Tui Cakau, Ro Kevu, who was installed at Vunisavisavi Village, was the eldest son of a Cakaudrove chief, Ravouvou, also of Vunisavisavi.

According to Epi Raikivi, a descendant of Tui Sinu who also researched about the history of Sinu for his University of the South Pacific assignment, Ro Kevu had a twin sister and their mother, Bulou Drose, was the daughter of a Nakasaleka chief in Kadavu.

“In those days, some of our iTaukei ancestors and chiefs were demigods so Bulou Drose used to turn herself into a jellyfish when she wanted to or to protect herself,” he said.

“For Tui Sinu, he could turn himself into a sting ray which is why the Salt Lake, if you look at the aerial view, it’s in a shape of the stingray with the lake as the body and the river leading down towards the sea as the spine.

“Bulou Drose was a very beautiful woman and Ravouvou travelled to Kadavu with his men to ask for her hand in marriage in which she agreed to. They used a two-pointed tabua (tabua basoga) when they betrothed her in Kadavu.”

But the trip by Ravouvou and his men included a pot to put Bulou Drose in, while travelling back to Cakaudrove.

History says that chiefs from other parts of Fiji had travelled to Kadavu to ask for Bulou Drose’s hand in marriage but she would always turn into a jelly fish and slip into the sea during the sea voyage back to Viti Levu.

“So these Cakaudrove men and Ravouvou were smart and they took a pot to put Bulou in so she would not escape while they travelled back to Cakaudrove,” Mr Raikivi said.

“When they arrived at Vunisavisavi, she asked Ravouvou to take her to a pond where she would be kept because the condition of her body needed to be in water.

“Ravouvou and his men then took her to Cakaudrove-i-Wai, an island near Vunisavisavi Village and put her inside the pond. She also gave birth to the twins on this island and had 100 women as her servants to look after her and the twins.”

Mr Raikivi also clarified that the war, Ro Kevu and his brothers won by using kaikoso (reef clams) shells and breadfruit peeling, was against the Kubuna army which travelled from Ra.

“The vanua of Sinu was known as a victorious and powerful place that produced strong leaders like Ro Kevu and his brothers,” he said.

“Sinu is known to have given and produced chiefs for Nasinu, Viani and Cakaudrove through Ro Kevu which is why today, the people of Sinu will call the Tui Cakau, ‘ralalai’ (younger) and the Tui Cakau will call the people of Sinu ‘tu’aqu’ (elder).

“This is simply because the people of Sinu brought up Ro Kevu as a child and prepared him for the title of the first Tui Cakau.”

The evidence, the people of Sinu have that they produced the first Tui Cakau turns into reality when a Tui Cakau dies.

The villagers would also hear a squelching sound from the sea, where a reef sits, near Nasinu Village.

Tui Navadra Ratu Jope Tuitoga said a pond in Nasinu Village bursts, splashing water into the air and the river, that flows from the pond turns red in colour, signifying blood.

The river is known as the “waidra”.

“I have witnessed it and that was in the 1980s when the Tui Cakau of that time died,” he said.

“I can’t really remember who the Tui Cakau was but I think it was Ratu Ratavo Lalabalavu who died in that period.

“I was at Nasinu Village drinking grog with the elders and we heard an explosion from the forest, where the pond sits. We just looked at each other and got out of the house knowing exactly what the meaning was.”

Ratu Jope said the men then walked towards the river to see if the explosion really happened in the pond.

“When we arrived, we saw the river had turned red in colour and we knew that the explosion we heard was really from the pond,” he said.

“We knew right away that our paramount chief, the Turaga na Tui Cakau had passed away so we called for a meeting right away and discussed our preparation.

“Two days later, the talai or servant of the chiefs visited us in Viani to inform us about the death of Tui Cakau. But we already knew about his passing after hearing the explosion from the pond in the forest.”

Viani villager Waisale Veikoso said after the “waidra river” turns red in colour or bloody, for the people of Sinu, a reef out at sea emerges from beneath.

“This happens after the pond explodes, the ‘waidra river’ turns bloody and then we hear a loud bang from the sea meaning the reef has surfaced,” he said.

“When we hear this, we know that the Tui Cakau, who has passed away is sitting on the reef and is being taken down to Naicobocobo in Bua.

“Naicobocobo is the place known in Fiji for those who leave this world. Our elders always tell us that this is the place where all the people, who have died jump off the cliff from Naicobocobo and into the sea.”

Villagers of Naicobocobo or Navuniyevu in the same area have also shared this same story with The Fiji Times team.

They say that when a chief dies, they would hear a very loud splash in the sea, meaning the chief had taken a deep fall.

But if a commoner dies, the splash would not be so loud because he or she has taken a shallow jump.

* Next Week: Buy your The Fiji Times as we take you to Naicobocobo in Bua.

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