‘Tavola’, as you have noted, just happens to be my surname. But that is neither here nor there! Tavola is the local almond. Its biological name is terminalia catappa: a tropical tree found in many tropical and semi-tropical countries of the world. It grows well on Dravuni. Its bark makes effective herbal medicine for ‘macake’: a disease of the tongue (aphthae, trush). The page on ‘Contemporary Dravuni’ will explore the pulses and thrusts of everyday life on Dravuni and how people have managed to sustain their livelihood under the circumstances they confront.
Natavasara is the family ‘yavu’: house foundation/site. The name is intricately intertwined in the history of Dravuni. In fact, it goes right back to the first settlers on Dravuni. The History page will reveal all.
This is a picture imported from another blog. Alex Penev is the photographer and his name is acknowledged if you float the cursor on the picture. This only underlines the features of the Internet, whose connectivity to the many sources of information drives its power, energy and utility. No wonder the Internet is claimed to be one of the most powerful tools available to human beings today!
Alex Penev was obviously a passenger on one of the cruise ships that visit Dravuni frequently – there can be 10-14 cruises a year. The tourist project that this engenders is a major economic activity for Dravuni. The Dravuni Development Committee (DDC) is overall responsible for development on Dravuni, including the tourism project. The ‘DDC’ page will discuss and make commentaries on development in general on the island.
The present village site is indicated in the picture. The ‘History’ page will tell the story of how and when the site finally moved there after two other sites, one of which was settled on two occasions.
Growing up on Dravuni invariably means spending endless hours on the beach, which becomes the focal point of the play group, the sand pit, where you dig holes to play with sand crabs and all the crawly things you can find, or where you can just sit around and dream of what is out there beyond the horizons. The socialization and acculturation processes offered by the ubiquitous beach during the formative years of growing up contribute immensely to the psyche of a ‘kaidravuni’. This aspect of life is cross-cutting and can be reflected in various ‘windows of life’ represented by the pages of this blog.
I have always felt a sense of imposed helplessness whenever I had to buy sand either for some concreting work or to fill up a sand pit, knowing that there is sand galore from where I come from. The last time I had to carry out the latter was in Canberra in 1977 when the family lived there for two years. I had to buy sand from a sand contractor to fill up the sand pit I had made for son George who had just turned one when we went there.
Developments bring changes, and globalization accelerates the speed with which changes are transforming the lives of Dravuni villagers. Villagers have to manage these changes that are taking place otherwise they will be swamped by them. The DDC is helping the villagers to bring in desirable changes and the know-how to best manage them. The ‘DDC’ page will discuss and make commentaries on developments; and you can make you own assessment on where the ‘kaidravuni’ and their developmental status are in the national scheme of things, or in comparison with like communities in other developing regions of the world. The ‘Contemporary Dravuni’ page will also provide directional commentaries on a whole gamut of development issues on Dravuni.
Visiting Dravuni, especially the annual ones at the end of the year over Christmas and the New Year break, are always anticipated with a sense of celebrations, family reunion and camaraderie. The 1-2 week break is always full of fellowship, songs and dancing, village meetings, collective initiatives and hours of drinking of the ubiquitous ‘yaqona’: kava. But it all comes to an end when the visitors return to their various homes over the seas.
For the villagers staying back on Dravuni, the time of farewell is just the beginning of having to face the reality of village life once again. The emotions can be mixed. There would be some who would just throw their hands up in the air with gay abundance and reaffirm: “That was nice, but life must go on. The plantation beckons!” There would be some of course who would need much persuasion and convincing, chilling out first before reverting to the rhythm of village life.
There are commentators in Fiji’s media today that tend to romanticize village life. I beg to differ. It is hard graft in the village. The traditional chores have now been supplemented by the requirements of modernity – economic, social and political. All these are testing traditional leadership to the core. Traditional chiefs today really have to be leaders, managers, strategists and visionaries – all in one!
‘Contemporary Dravuni’ page will commentate on these aspects as time unfolds.
Methodism is already covered on Contemporary Dravuni page. It will also feature on the ‘History’ page as well. The church on Dravuni is certainly a principal driver of changes since the 1870s. The extension of the church is a statement in itself in that the increasing congregation over the years has necessitated such extension. It all seems that the match of Christianity has continued over generations notwithstanding the obstacles that present themselves.
‘Getting to know Dravuni’ is an exercise in self-fulfilment by a ‘kaidravuni’ whose only motivation is to record information for posterity. This ‘kaidravuni’ had benefited from story-telling and anecdotal reflections, some of which, admittedly, needed to be dated and substantiated. That, however, is part of the challenge of this exercise. My aim therefore, through this blog, is to go up a notch and improve and transform how information is passed on to future generations. And what better way of doing it than the opportunity presented by the Internet!
But more importantly, it is an exercise in enhancing knowledge about an island, a village and a traditional home for which very little had been written in the past. Having said that, I must admit that a sizable body of information about Dravuni currently exists in the Internet. This, however, exists principally in the form of travel postcards, a lot of which is pictorial. Some of which is fabricated as well. For instance, how could an island that is doubly protected by legislation from leasing be promoted on the Internet as a piece of subdivided real estate in paradise without the villagers knowing about it?
This blog will help to correct any misconceptions that may exist, and certainly any misguided and falsification of information that is so readily posted on the Internet nowadays.
The raison d’être of course is ‘getting to know Dravuni’. And all efforts will be directed at achieving that. However, the project is being driven by a ‘kaidravuni’: an indigene of Dravuni – through his eyes, lens and orientations. He may slip up on occasions and get to discussing what may be termed as the experiences of a ‘kaidravuni’ and not directly ‘getting to know Dravuni’. I seek your forbearance should that be the case. But any slip up on my part in this direction would be strategically aimed at furthering the understanding of what Dravuni is able to produce and contribute to the global body of knowledge and expertise. This can ably demonstrate the process of globalization in our lives today.
Be that as it may, I do not propose to test your patience unnecessarily. Out of the ten pages on the blog, including ‘Home’, seven would serve to enhancing ‘getting to know Dravuni’. Three (CV, Kingfisher Consultancy and Poetry) are more aligned to the experiences of a ‘kaidravuni’. The latter group will only be pursued with circumspection. It will only become a focal attention when all is said and done about ‘getting to know Dravuni’.