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Sloggs' Travel Blog A journal of my travels in 2008 & beyond...

Tribewanted Meke to ~1000 people!!!

FIJI | Thursday, 14 August 2008 | Views [1786]

On the Malau bus!!! Aaaaaaargh!

On the Malau bus!!! Aaaaaaargh!

On the 14th of August 2008 Vorovoro was left empty* as the entire tribe made the trip to the All Saints Secondary School after being invited to meke for the crowd at the Cadets passing out parade.

The day began with an early breakfast at 6:30 and after loading up on porridge and banana's (good Meke fuel!) everyone put on their colourful outfits ready to represent the tribe at a big district event.

After the first two boats arrived in Malau we entertained ourselves whilst waiting for the next two loads by practising some meke and eating poisonous packaged foods(!) from the little blue shop at the port**. As usual there were some people waiting for the Malau bus at this stop, but I think by now they are used the mad-house that is Tribewanted arriving and behaving in a strange manner! The bus arrived just as the last two boats were racing into the port and we were soon crammed into a near full Malau bus and on our way. [What a dangerous thing the Malau Bus can be in another context! ;)]. Once underway there was a shout of "Meke practise", which was met with some embarrased laughter and a few random hand waves. Tui Mali (the chief of the whole Mali district, including Vorovoro) joined us from the next stop and after twenty minutes or so we were alighting at All Saints which was busy with students entering under the glare (and chastising) of the teachers on duty on the gate.

The enormity of the day dawned on me at this point as there were hundreds of school kids, cadets, parents and staff members swarming the school and in a front-row position in front of the playing fields sat a VIP guest seating area, shaded from the hot sun. This months tribewanted chief, Tui Taniela (known as Daniel Mason to his friends & family) had one such seat next to Tui Mali and a MAHUUUUSIVE big-wig from the army, who made everyone at the event look small. The rest of us were provided with old-skool style wooden benches to sit along side the VIP section as the announcer blared out over the tannoy that we were here and would provide entertainment... yikes!

The parade began and the hundreds of cadets put on a superb marching display with accompanied drums under an intense sun. Some of the tribewanted team Fiji staff had family in the parade, one of Leavi's daughters was out there and also Tale & Kassa's younger brother was leading one of the units through the parade. I took some photos of him to print for them as they don't possess a camera. Some of the marching was impressive as they held a rather awkward looking body angle through some of it! Once the parade was finished and some awards for the top students were given, we were ushered off to change into our costumes for the performance. Some of the tribe members had made the leaf wrist bands and necklaces the previous evening and the men had the obligatory black paint adornment on the face, arms and chest and we were off onto the field after a small group of school kids had finished their national anthem combined with flag dance. Team Fiji positioned themselves behind us with the Lali drum and the men lined up ready with our backs to the crowd to perform the Viki Malua Meke. I wasn't aware that the boys were going to be amplified until they started singing with Tevita hogging the mic as he was the only one I could hear to begin with! (That man belts out the songs with so much heart!!) The Meke started well, and with Jim sat in front of me, at the head of the line, I was confident that the timing of the turn would be spot on... that was until we did the second turn, the one where we end up facing the crowd, to find that we were three or four seconds ahead of the rest (and the majority) of the line!! Oops! We held it together and waited for the rest to turn before joining in for the finale... lol!

The crowd received us well and then the girls joined the line ready for the run through of the six meke's which we'd been practising like mad all week in preparation. Jale, Jim and Save sat out front, for the line to follow, but also to take the brunt of the inevitable challenge from the onlooking crowd, which was now looming large in front of us! I was thrilled to be there for such a big crowd, but partly as I've become pretty confident with the meke now after 5 weeks of practising! After the last meke we did for a tourist student group visiting us on Vorovoro where my 'challenge' during meke number 5 was accepted by a group of them who came and sat on/next to me, putting me off the rest of the meke succesfully, I was only nervous about who to point at in the crowd! As it happened the whole line were targeted anyway, especially Jale in front with his wonderfully over exaggerated meke style ("it's all in the shoulders!"). The boys got given HUGE pieces of cake covered in icing (gutted!) and the girls got sweets that tasted like hospital floor cleaner (heheh!). They gave Rich a piece of cake bigger than his head, superb! The meke went well, and everyone involved enjoyed the experience. As we left the field we were thanked by many of the crowd, which was estimated by all there to have been in the region of a thousand people!

We were provided with delicious ice cold orange squash, tea and lots of food before we were invited to sit with some of the top army men under their make-shift sun shade, for a quick grog session. We said hello to them and sat and watched as the school staff presented them with lots of different coloured sulu's complete with the school name on them during a sevusevu, had some grog and then bid the school farewell to go and catch the bus back to Malau.

At the bus-stop chief (Dan) bought us all ice creams and we chatted about the great day we'd had whilst watching two full buses go past. [Save and I played a game of hitting the face of the opposite kerb with stones, and of course he was brilliant at it... grrr! ;)]. We had to take the third bus that came through, which was nearly full, and half of us ended up stood in the aisle, much to the amusement of those already seated. When the first bell rang to stop and let someone off, we (the tribe) let out a big "ooooh noooo", which was met with much laughter (maybe you had to be there!) and this then followed for the myriad of stops until we all had seats. When we got the final stop (the wood yard at the Malau port) Dan asked the driver if we could have a photo of everyone hanging out of the bus, which he was happy to facilitate and we did exactly that (picture to follow soon hopefully!).

The boats back to Vorovoro were subdued as everyone was day dreaming about the day and we were soon rounding the island and going home...

That evening we had a grog session with team Fiji down at their old grog site along the beach between the two villages, and after many bowls and hours a well earned sleep was reward at the end of yet another fantastic day-in-the-life of Tribewanted!

Vinaka Vaka Levu for reading...
Sloggs :)

*Vorovoro is never left completely empty of course... but today saw one of the biggest leaving parties, leaving literally only a few of team Fiji behind to enjoy the tranquility that an empty Vorovoro offers.

**The little blue shop had a shiny new, bright-red facade when we left later that day... a fact which was missed by all apart from myself I think! (Told you porridge was good fuel! ;))

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