The oldest person on Dravuni is Alumita Molivou sitting here with daughter Lanieta. Alumita was born in 1917.
From Pandanus to Mat
Mat weaving is alive and well with the Dravuni women. Pandanus, whose leaves undergo a series of treatments and processing before they transform to mats, grows well on the sandy and volcanic soil of Dravuni.
Clumps of these strange-looking plants with their striking aerial roots can be seen on the flat strips of land on both sides of the island. Their long green leaves edged with prickly thorns to frustrate the uninitiated, are harvested and their thorny edges stripped away.
This marks the start of the transformation. Not only skills, competence and nimble fingers are needed for this traditional art. But large doses of patience as well.
The ways of the fishermen and fisherwomen have adapted and re-adapted over the years, but some things just don’t change.
The first catechist posted to Dravuni, Ilai Tuilawa, was way back in 1875 – a year after Fiji’s cession to Great Britain. My great grandfather Simione Ravana was the first kaidravuni catechist to be posted out of Dravuni in 1885. The Methodist Church has been the mainstay for the spiritual life on the island for generations. The following pictures tell their own stories.
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure,
save from wrath and make me pure.” (Church hymn)
“Here, I sit
your precious gift of life.
Living it is a delight.”
“Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace,
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying
that we are born to eternal life.” (Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi)
“Let earth and heaven combine,
Away in a manger:
Hark! What mean these holy voices?
O come, all ye faithful.”
with a ribbon as divider:
‘Dravuni Methodist Church’ is etched in gold.
May its words bring all and sundry to the fold.”
“It may be odourless,
it may be unrefined:
but colour is resplendent;
all glory is thine.”
“White for purity,
laced in red.
Your precious blood –
you freely shed.”
“A shield for your glorification,
in brass for all to see:
what is critical
is commitment for continuity.”
“Ema once wrote:
‘church can be thirsty work’.
But once replete with grace,
You’d be amazed!”
“Old and discarded,
but remain unmoved.
In twosome they’ll stay
if Christ is the way.”
“An occasional paint is the order of the day:
But carry your cross for life –
“Unportentous it may seem;
but a weekly dusting is guaranteed.
Where reasons end,
faith becomes the mainspring.”
“The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide,
a shelter in the time of storm;
secure whatever ill betide
a shelter in the time of storm.” (Church hymn)