30 March 2013
Navakasobu Village, Vanua Levu, Fiji
Our wonderful guide and companion Koli Musudroka, WWF Field Officer for Labasa invited us to his village on Black Saturday. He had been telling us about the women in his village weaving a special kind of mat and traditional Fijian wedding costumes made of a reed locally called kuta. So we made a trip to Navakasobu and did a traditional sevusevu with the village elders.
Upon our arrival, we were treated to a community hall with women weaving beautifully fine mats that were all around us. Our intentions were made clear by Koli to his village chief who was his uncle and to the other elders, and we offered our kava and of course, some pictures of our Fotocards. We were given blessings and free reign to start photography.
We found out early on our trip that kuta mats are the most valuable mats in Fiji and kuta wedding outfits are more expensive than the masi (tapa cloth) type wedding dresses as kuta weaves are more difficult to make. We had our first look at kuta from the market and our vendor friend Lupe made her daughter model a dress for us.
Then our offering of kava was immediately prepared by Koli and his strong village relatives, each taking his turn pounding the dried kava roots with a very heavy steel pole until it turned into powder, ready to be used in the sevusevu.
Koli brought us to a nearby pond where he heard some of the villagers were fishing for fresh water fish similar to tilapia. We walked through tall grass in the rain and waded through knee deep waters to get into the pond. Men & women were busy catching fish with a bamboo pole and line.
All too soon, it was time for us to say our goodbyes after a wonderful lunch of traditional split peas soup prepared by Koli’s wife Koti. Upon driving off, Koli called back our driver saying we forgot something! We returned and were given a beautiful circular mat one of the ladies freshly finished. We have been treated to Fijian hospitality and generosity at its highest form.