‘My Origin Story’ narrates the first settlement of Dravuni Island by Ravuravu and his clan members. Ravuravu and his entourage started their long journey of land/island settlement from the foothills of the Medrausucu Range in what is part of Naitasiri Province today. My Origin Story does not proceed beyond that point. It ends there. As far as the descendants of Ravuravu today are concerned, that is the extent of the information that is available and which was passed down from our ancestors.
But alas, where did our ancestors hail from before Naitasiri? Here, I admit, one has to enter the deeper recesses of our collective mythology to get some answers. Inevitably, one is necessarily getting into areas where memories had been hazy for generations and where there has been speculation.
To get some insight about possible explanations of migration into Naitasiri, for example, one can make the connection to the out-migration of early Fijians from Nakauvadra, as told under the Kaunitoni Migration story. I have heard, for example, one thread of the story about this cross-country migration by the people from whom Ravuravu originated. Part of that story is an explanation of the origin of ‘Dravuni’ – the name given to two villages settled by the Ravuravu clan, including my own, in subsequent post-Naitasiri migration.
The Kaunitoni Migration story goes beyond Nakauvadra and relates how the first Fijians arrived in Fiji first at Viseisei on the coast and traveled inland to Nakauvadra.
So far so good! However, some early historians have cast doubt on the authenticity of the Kaunitoni migration story; and this is where we are entering into areas of speculation. Before the Kaunitoni Migration story was ever conceived, the state of the Fijians’ collective memory was best articulated by Thomas Williams in “Fiji and Fijians”. He said: “In considering the origin of the present inhabitants of Fiji, we seek in vain for a single ray of tradition or historical record to guide us through the darkness of a remote antiquity. The native songs are silent in the matter, and no hint of a former immigration is to be heard.” Williams was ready to conclude “that the absence of native traditions on the first peopling of the islands was strong evidence of the great antiquity of the early migrations, in contrast with other islands of the Pacific.”
So, even if we discount the Kaunitoni Migration story, we can still be rest assured that the early Fijians did sail into Fiji, landed somewhere on the coast and could have made their way up to Nakauvadra. Any of the prevailing theories of how early Fijians got to Fiji in the first place, including the Lapita theory of migration, could comfortably be a substitute for the Kaunitoni Migration story.
Image credit: Dravuni night skies, May 2016, by Leilani Kake