30 September 2007

Fiji - Tei vovo!

Fiji flag animated gif

Although I call myself NZM, (because most people know where New Zealand is nowadays - except for some Americans and an Emirati woman at the DXB immigration counter!), I was born and raised in Fiji until 15 year
s old. My family then uprooted to NZ as the political tensions in our home country grew hotter.

On my father's side, I was the 4th generation of my family born in Fiji. My mother's family was all born in India, but that's another story. Colonial blood runs thick through my veins, but thankfully both sides were not involved in the military/political presence in either countries: they arrived as missionaries or traders.

Digression aside, I'm a person torn between divided national loyalties. I travel on a NZ passport - surely one of the easiest on which to get around. I sing both National Anthems with pride. (After 3 months in Australia, I'm even starting to get teary about Advance Australia Fair!)

When I arrive in NZ, I feel at home because my family and most of my friends are still there.

When I arrive in Fiji, I am home.

As I write this, the TV is showing highlights of the Fijian rugby team singing after yesterday's match - a game that will be long remembered by all the people who witnessed it at the ground and on TV.

What a game!

Fiji 38 - Wales 34

At about 3am Melbourne time, I was screaming at the TV: heart pounding; up on my feet; the 3 minutes of injury time seemed like a lifetime; the last minute penalty with the Welsh threatening the Fijian defence looked as if the Fiji boys had thrown it away.

The whistle for full-time couldn't come quickly enough; even the patriotic and often one-eyed Australian commentary team were effusive in their praise - they are calling it the best game of this tournament and the best since the 1999 World Cup NZ-France clash.

Akapusi Qera on his way to scoring the opening try

Next up, Fiji meets South Africa.

That will be tough - the Boks are powerful. They don't make mistakes and they will pounce on the weak Fijian scrum and will intercept stray passes.

Kea Leawere scores a try to Fiji's delight

The Fijians have island flair, and their unpredictability is a huge asset when they playing well. They love to keep the ball in play, hate to kick for position, and will run from anywhere. They're also extraordinarily good at staying on their feet during opposition breakdowns, and snaffling the ball away.

I'll be up to watch this game too!

Like the famous NZ haka or wardance performed by the All Blacks before their matches, all the Pacific Island nations have their versions.

Fiji has the cibi (pronounced thimbi) - a warcry from the days when Fijians were at odds with their island neighbours. It was performed before battle, and even more vigourously when the victorious warriors would return home after war.

The Fiji team practising the cibi

The cibi first made its appearance on the rugby field around 1939.

Ai tei vovo, tei vovo
E ya, e ya, e ya, e ya;
Tei vovo, tei vovo
E ya e ya, e ya, e ya

Rai tu mai , rai tu mai
Oi au a viriviri kemu bai
Rai tu mai, rai ti mai
Oi au a viriviri kemu bai

Toa yalewa, toa yalewa,
Veico, veico, veico.
Au tabu moce koi au
Au moce ga ki domo ni biau.

E luvu koto ki ra nomu waqa
O kaya beka au sa luvu sara
Nomu bai e wawa mere
Au tokia ga ka tasere

English translation:
Make ready, make ready,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh;
Make ready, make ready
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh;

Look hither, look hither,
I build a breastwork for you,
Look hither, look hither,
I build a breastwork for you.

A cock and a hen,
They attack, attack, attack
It is tabu for me to slumber
Except to the sound of breakers.

Your ship is sunk below,
Don’t think I’m drowned too.
Your defence is just waiting
To crumble when I prick it.

It sounds better in Fijian!

Wendy over at Babasiga and Pandabonium at Pacific Islander have their accounts of the match too.

Go Fiji!


Pandabonium said...


david mcmahon said...

Thanks for visiting and telling me about our common India link.

Nothing wrong with being teary about Advance Australia Fair....

Enjoying the World Cup rugby?

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Having two countries to call home seems to be common amongst bloggers. We had visitors the other morning who live in a highrise in Flemington - about the 19th floor and she loves it (she is an Oz, her guy Fijian) and then they go occasionally to Fiji to stay in a village in Lakeba and she feels totally at home there and friends bring her fish or lobster each morning after the night catch. Yes, we can have two 'homes.'
The rugby chant - one line in your version I think is toa tagane, toa yalewa, but I haven't heard the verses after the first one.

A world of Symphony said...

NZM: Congratulations for the Fiji win!

Although, I'm crazy as hell about Rugby and the World Cup, I've only seen one game (featuring Jonny Wilkinson) as yet due to constant running around!

Here's hoping it's Fiji versus NZ or Fiji versus Australia or worse comes to worse NZ versus Australia in the finals.

Finals, I never miss!

Nevertheless, immense luck to Fiji in their forthcoming games!

May the best team take this World Cup!

Kishor Cariappa said...

India link is interesting....call it globalization and cultural melting pot.

nzm said...

Pandabonium: Yeah it was until the Quarterfinals! :-|

David: Welcome and thanks for visiting!

Wendy: two homes isn't bad is it? :-) I took the words for the cibi from Teivovo.com

Louis: the team that will win will be the one which develops the most over the course of the World Cup. So many peaked beforehand and have now crashed and burned.

Kishor: It is that!

Shaykhspeara Sha'ira said...

Fiji is soooo cool! I love the lingo. There's a really good group called Te Vaka, I believe. Great music.
Oh and Congrats to Fiji on the win :)

I know how you feel though about feeling "home" in many places, or having allegiances to many places...
one is 100% of everything all at once. I used to define myself, and sometimes still do, as half this half that quarter this quarter that, but, in reality, there is no being half something. Dividing ones identity up in a measurable quantity is absurd when you think about it.

nzm said...

Sha'ira: you really know your World music don't you? :-)

It's so true what you have written. You are what you are, all the time.

And - as Popeye says: I yam what I yam!