- Submitted by Peter James on behalf of Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro
November 15, 1997
I write to bring to your attention some of the missing pages of
Rotuma's history. Over 30 years of detailed research and study are
currently being compiled into a book by Gagaj James Rafoi and Gagaj
Sau Lagfatmaro II. This book is expected to be released next year.
Below is a summary of the history taken from a letter to the editor
of the Fiji Times dated Saturday 8 November in response to an article
on the history of Rotuma. I have taken the liberty of correcting
some spelling mistakes and historical omissions.
"Sir - This is in response to Sagale Buadromo's weekend article
in the Fiji Times, Saturday October 25, 1997 which require clarification.
Moreover, there are a lot of anomalies which stand corrected.
Rotuma was never founded by Raho, the first Polynesian invader from
Samoa. He was and remains one of the many settlers who sought to
make Rotuma their home. Others entail Tongans, Chinese, Spanish,
Portuguese, Maoris, Scots, English and a host of others.
Rotuma's central location made it a convenient port of call. The
current Minister of Home Affairs, Paul Manueli is of Portuguese descent
as are Rotuman names like Augustino. The Melanesian influence dates
back to the arrival of the first Fijian migration from Africa which
includes seven brothers. The elder brother was Lutunasobasoba, the
founding father of Fiji and sister known as Adi Volau ni Wasa. The
Rotuman know her as Hanitemousu which Churchwood correctly identifies.
Their arrival occurred during the reign of the first King of Rotuma,
Gagaj Sau Lagfatmoro I.
Adi Volau ni Wasa was designated as Sauhan ne Soloagasta (Queen
of the Sunset) by Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro I (author note - of Molmahao
Dynasty) as she was of royal blood (or blue blood) too. She was made
pregnant by her younger brother, Ratu Degei during the voyage and
instead of killing her, the brothers decided to leave her at Rotuma
(author note - to hide their shame) which accounts for why ancient
Royal blood families forbid their children to marry a Fijian to honour
Adi Volau ni Wasa. Rotumans who do not believe or take heed of this
curse, never have children.
According to the Malmahao legend, Rotuma was part of a large mass
known as Hanua Mafua which sunk beneath the sea due to volcanic eruptions
and earthquakes. This land mass is known as Hanuaha'a - the sacred/ancient
land. There are many replicas to Atlantis the supposingly mythical
kingdom which Pluto, and later Aristotle used as an analogue to describe
a perfect system of government.
I recommend that people refrain from commenting about issues for
which they are not familiar with. It reflects a new type of colonialism
and tradition of exploitation, in which people abuse the offices
they are in, to comment on issues on which they know next to nothing
If foreign-aid was directed to Rotuma, through the appropriate channels
then we as Rotumans will be able to unearth our ancient history/ancestors
with the appropriate ceremonies as well as etiquette and then record
our history from our perspective and not from hearsay and versions
from thieves and scoundrels like Eason. A comprehensive history of
Rotuma is already being prepared and perhaps people should await
I further ask the Fiji Museum to return the vase sent for carbon
dating back to the Noa--ia-e-tau Museum, Rotuma and to ask the Fiji
Museum to respect Justice Gordon Ward's ruling in 1985 which explicitly
states that no artifacts are to be removed from Rotuma at all.
Signed: GAGAJ JAMIE RAFOI (SUVA)"
I submit this article to encourage a more complete understanding
of Rotuman history and culture in the hope of re-establishing pride
in the Rotuman people. Comments on this message are invited and can
be forwarded to me electronically via firstname.lastname@example.org
"Ua'ua'okiof se Temamfua 'e Rotuma ma Hanua Ha'a. Alalumuaf se Rotuam
Ofrau 'e ut Häk 'e Rän te." Se Rotuma - Ma Rotuma - La
Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro II
- Peter James
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