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Cultural Traces Around the World

The iTaukei of Fiji: Islanders with Heart

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Today, we are going to travel to a quintessential tropical island paradise with balmy breezes to learn about an indigenous people whose ancestors came to this beautiful archipelago around 3,500 years ago. Fiji is truly spectacular and features white sand beaches, turquoise oceans, palm trees and fertile land. It’s no wonder the ocean-faring Melanesians, called the Lapita, who found their way to the islands decided to stay and make the archipelago their home. Today, most iTaukei continue to live in their villages with traditional governmental structures. One cultural experience that many tourists enjoy when in Fiji is visiting an indigenous community to observe their way of life. The ancient indigenous Fijians were an ocean-going people who, like many of the Melanesian and Polynesian cultures, built sea-worthy canoes whose capabilities show their civilization had achieved an impressive level of technological advancement. Architecture reveals to us the cultural values, traditions and beliefs of a society. The same can be said of the types of buildings found in Fijian villages, which reflect the influence of communal values that infuse life in Fiji. One of the most important structures is the valenivanua, which is the traditional meeting house or cultural space used by clan heads and the village chief. Meke is storytelling through song, dance and music. For generations, the indigenous Fijians have passed down their history, beliefs, traditions, morals and values through the meke. The Fijian people are as kind, warm and welcoming as their nation’s gentle breezes and tropical waters. May you have the unique opportunity to journey here one day to experience this paradise and the splendid native culture.
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