The launch of the IYIL in Suva, the capital of Fiji is a public event that will be held over two days. During the two days, indigenous approaches and values that promote social cohesion, food security, preservation and celebration of language diversity will be showcased.
Traditional elders and master crafts practitioners drawn from society based on results of the Cultural Mapping Program instituted by the Ministry iTaukei Affairs will share their thoughts and ideas on areas of their expertise using the indigenous language as the vehicle of transmission.
Deep symbolic truths and wisdom in language are embedded in the traditional and heritage arts and crafts. Words, motifs, symbols, encapsulate these old wisdom that if not shared publicly, can result in extinction and loss of transmission.
Key master practitioners include a traditional choreographer who is gifted to compose clan and tribal dances using the ICH and epistemologies of the respective clans that approach him in his province. Another is a master canoe builder from Vulaga Island in the Lau group, one of the last bastions in Fiji and perhaps the Pacific, who still can construct the traditional “drua”or double-hulled canoe made the traditional way. In addition is an elder from one of the clans in Nakawaga village, Vanualevu, who will share his story publicly on how his clan was able to put in traditional measures based on indigenous values and ethics that have enabled them to thrive economically, to the point that the village pays its senior members a pension from these measures, without having any government or other handout assistance. Then there is another elder from another clan in mainland Vitilevu who will share how his clan’s identity and pride has been revitalized and challenged through the publication of the Bible in the clan’s dialect. There is also a master weaver from another clan who will be demonstrating the weaving of a traditional basket called voco (voh-tho), a basket that is the remnant of an ancient tribute route that goes way back to the 1600s.
Finally, is the traditional performing arts featuring traditional state dances from tribes drawn from provinces within bus travelling distance to Suva. Four such dance groups have been approached the traditional way. Dance is also a retelling of traditional history and events. There will be a traditional fan dance from the Rokotui Yasa clan from Kumi Village in Verata, Tailevu province. Their dance uses metaphors of doves to refer to traditional war battalions. Then there is the a spear and club dance from the dancers in Nawaidina village, Naitaisiri province – a 4 hour drive up into the hinterlands. There is also a women’s fan dance from the Navutulevu clan in the Serua province, and a women’s sitting dance performed by the clan of Komo, Kabara island in the Lau group who are living in Suva.
Each dance will have a designated person to explain to the public the significance of certain words and phrases in the dance lyrics and the choreography.
The main feature is the public sharing of indigenous knowledge from the selected practitioners from the community which will be punctuated with the traditional dances and a few speeches and songs.
The setup of the public sharing of traditional knowledge and epistemology will be the customary way where the speakers will be seated on a prepared mat with experienced field interviewers from the Cultural Mapping Program engaging them in the customarily conversational dialogue style with kava being prepared and served in between.