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.

Navakasobu Village chief.

Navakasobu Village chief.

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.

Navakasobu weaver shows us her work of art.

Navakasobu weaver shows us her work of art.

Fijian smile shines while the hands are busy weaving a kuta mat.

Fijian smile shines while the hands are busy weaving a kuta mat.

Valuable Fijian mats are made in Navakasobu village.

Valuable Fijian mats are made in Navakasobu village.

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.

Young Fijian lass modelling a Kuta reed wedding dress in the Labasa market.

Young Fijian lass modelling a Kuta reed wedding dress in the Labasa market.

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.

Kava about to be pounded.

Kava about to be pounded.

Strong Koli gets his turn pounding the kava roots.

Strong Koli gets his turn pounding the kava roots.

Pounded Kava

Pounded Kava

Mixing pounded kava with water.

Mixing pounded kava with water.

Mixing and sieving water and pounded kava through a cotton cloth.

Mixing and sieving water and pounded kava through a cotton cloth.

Drinking kava with the elders who were served first as there is a hierarchy to be observed.

Drinking kava with the elders who were served first as there is a hierarchy to be observed.

Yogi gets his share of kava which gives him numb tongue.

Yogi gets his share of kava which he says gives him numb tongue.

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.

Idyllic life catching your own fresh fish for dinner.

Idyllic life catching your own fresh fish for dinner.

Village women cast their lines out for some fresh water fish.

Village women cast their lines out for some fresh water fish.

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.