Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Timeless Legends Of The Mamanucas...

While conventional history and anthropology tell us that Fiji was first settled in the second millennium BC by Austronesians. Later came in the Melanesians and Polynesian influences.
But Fijian myths and legends, there is a different story to tell, something that modern history may never be able to rationalize and decipher.
According to Fijian myths, the first inhabitants came in giant war canoes from Taganika (a mythical place north of Egypt). The leader of the sailors was a warrior chief named Lutunasobasoba and his general Degei. They sailed on the double hulled canoe Kaunitoni. According to legend, the armada was carrying a sacred relic called the Katonimana, which in Fijian means “Box of Blessings”.
The chief Lutunasobasoba and his people set sail in search of a mythological island with bountiful seas and rich land created by the Gods where the Chief ’s people could rest after years of wandering.  Half of the ships got separated during the journey, but the rest made it to what is known as Fiji today.
While trying to find safe passage into the waters of Fiji, the sailors found the Momi Passage that is still used today by large, ocean going vessels. Around the islands of Matamanoa, Mana and Likuliku, that form a part of the archipelago known as the Mamanuca Islands, the armada met with a storm. The waves of high seas knocked their precious relic, the Katonimana, overboard.
Believing that this accident was the will of the gods, Lutunasobasoba told his people to leave the Katonimana there. It is believed that the box is still there, and is protected by two giant clams.
Later, one of the clansmen, Degei, returned to the Mamanuca islands to try to retrieve the Katonimana. It is said he found the box, and a large diamond just outside of it. He took the diamond, and was immediately turned into a serpent with a diamond pattern on his head.

It is believed by Fijian mythology, that he is cursed to live as a serpent forever, trapped in the Sawa-i-lau caves in the Yasawa island group, which is off the north-western coast of Viti Levu. What a coincidence that on way the way to Samoa, I travelled on a Fiji Airways Airbus A330, which bore the name Yasawa-i-Rara!

Every place has some interesting legends, some interesting myths. More often than not these are hard to understand, difficult to rationalise. I did once come across a story of Egyptian hieroglyphic carvings being found in a place called Kariong, New South Wales in Australia. And there is another story of an Egyptian settlement in the Grand Canyon in the United States. So the legends of people  from the north of Egypt coming to Fiji may not be that far-fetched.
It is easy to debunk these "findings" as conspiracy theories and hoaxes, but an alternate view could be that there are so many missing links in history perhaps due to cataclysms, natural disasters that these communities got separated and went their own ways, and their stories became legends that we hear today.
Who know, who can tell? Perhaps no one...
But for now, we'll enjoy the charms of the Beachcomber Island...

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