Volcanoes and Legends: Part 3

My previous post, Volcanoes and Legends: Part 2, linked volcanic activities on Vanuakula Island, west of Dravuni, to its own legend of Ravouvou and Raluve iVanuakula. My narration of the legend is contained under Legends.

The legend has it that when Naitotokowalu’s waqa titi (sailing craft) arrived back on Dravuni, after Naitotokowalu (the vu of Nakasaleka) and Ravouvou iVanuakula had recaptured Raluve iVanuakula from the clutches of the Tongans, their boat beached at a point, east of Dravuni, now called Ucuivadravakatobe. The point is so named to reflect the single screw palm (vadra) that grows there. The tree itself grew from the remains of Raluve iVanuakula’s tobe, (a lock of hair allowed to grow during a girl’s virginity). In her case, her tobe was cut and disposed there since she had lost her virginity in Tonga whilst held against her will.

The boat returned with a number of white-hot stones that the two warriors didn’t need to slay the Tongan ‘Togalelewai’, a legendary sea snake that had pursued the rescuing duo all the way from Tongatapu. These stones were then left at the point to cool off. Villagers, since then, have collected their relatively small and rounded stones for their lovo from there because they don’t splinter when fired since they had been pre-fired.

Now, that is the extent of part of the logic of the legend: to explain a specific enigma to enable our ancestors to understand the situation they experienced. Someone would have discovered that smooth round stones from the point did not splinter when fired. The ancestors, from their own experience with fire, would have concluded that such stones had been subjected to fire previously.

But how could those stones, at the bare rocky point, adjacent to the sea, be subjected to fire? That was the essence of the enigma. The legend of Ravouvou and Raluve iVanuakula was thus conceived or retold to explain the enigma.

Our early ancestors did not experience any volcanic eruption on Dravuni. All the eruptions there had taken place well before and deep into the mists of history/prehistory. Knowledge of pre-firing of rocks through volcanic eruptions was thus an unknown factor. Later ancestors however, during the period of the eruptions of Uluinabukelevu, were able to deduce some knowledge about the volcanoes and their fiery, destructive and transformative nature. But that was far removed from their own experiences and was rather late, in any case, to prevail over a wonderful story of the Vanuakula Island beauty who was kidnapped by the Tongan warriors to marry a Tongan prince.   

Science, especially volcanic geomorphology, has progressed. Today, the villagers can get an idea of how the pre-fired rocks got to Ucuivadravakatobe.

Scientific studies on Dravuni conclude that there were two volcanic centres on the island itself. That to the southern end of the island was the principal centre and that to the northern end of the island near Ucuivadravakatobe  was much smaller and more likely to be a parasitic centre, formed on the flanks of the main volcano.  A parasitic volcano is not auxiliary to the main volcano, but closely related to the magma plumbing systems of the main volcano.

I have not been able to confirm that rocks thrown up by a parasitic volcano are generally smaller in size than those thrown up by the principal volcano. My overactive mind, however, does conjure up the picture of the boiling magma, comprising the accumulation of volcanic material rushing through the central vent of the erupting volcano. Only the peripheral material unwanted by the central vent would be siphoned off through a side fracture to feed into a parasitic centre/cone. Methinks that the relative size of volcanic material would be a factor in this case. The smaller the material is in relative terms, the easier it is to be diverted through the side fracture of the central vent.

That was then. Today, the physical features of Ucuivadravakatobe stand exposed to the existential threat of climate change. The smooth rocks that border the ocean can be submerged with rising sea level. The sole vadra that has lasted generations can be toppled over by the next destructive tropical cyclone. What then will future storytellers be weaving into their tales come the 22nd Century?

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