FIJI’S HISTORIC NAVALA IS A STEP BACK IN TIME

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FIJI’S HISTORIC NAVALA IS A STEP BACK IN TIME

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Mar. 1) - They say when you visit Navala village in Fiji you feel like you are going back in time.

The village, in the interior of Ba Province [on the northwest coast of Fiji’s Viti Levu island], has a rich history, which the people are proud of.

Navala is a national heritage site. It is full of history and legends. One of them is about the caves overlooking the village.

Village elder Josefa Tubi, 69, said the caves, halfway up a steep mountain, were a refuge during tribal wars in the dark ages of Fiji's history. The caves are near the old village (koro makawa).

It was where the women and children hid while their men guarded outside.

Tubi said the caves were in a strategic location and anyone approaching could be seen.

When villagers moved to the present location, the caves became empty.

The caves became taboo ground. The only time people would go up the mountains was to take tourists to a big waterfall.

Navala is full of ancient artifacts, which were kept by the villagers down the line from their ancestors.

Suliano Saunivalu, 70, said they were proud of the relics and would display them to visitors.

Among the artifacts is an old musket, two spears, a fly swish and a small club.

There is one Rotuman in Navala.

Fine Namai, 56, is married to Pio Namai and has been in Navala for six years after her husband was asked to help the villagers with their welfare.

Namai has a beautiful bure (thatched hut) with a fenced compound and rows of flowers acting as a hedge.

They live with their grandson, Pio Namai, who turned 14 last Saturday, the day we visited Navala.

March 2, 2006

Fiji Times Online: .

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