Monday, May 7, 2007

Eseta Robo Mateiviti-Tulavu

Our first community profile is ESETA ROBO MATEIVITI TULAVU. She is of a mixed ancestry of Fijian and Solomon Islands. Eseta is married to Moape Tulavu, from Nakorosule Naitasiri and they have three beautiful children. She is currently pursuing her Master of Arts at the University of Auckland. We sent her the following questions and below are her stories.


What are your links to Fiji and the Solomon Islands?
My links are through the blood ties that existed historically; my grandfather came to Fiji searching for his two older brothers at the age of 16 and since then, all the male members of the family came. All women folk, however were left behind in the Solomon Islands to look after the land and to look after the rest of the family members.

What privileges have you received as someone of mixed heritage?
Firstly, we are grateful to the Fiji Government for providing us with land to live on. These are the lands that our forefathers have lived until our current generation. The second most privilege is the opportunity to get academic scholarships so I can pursue the career of my dreams.

Explain what is like growing up as someone of mixed ancestry of Fijian and Solomon Islands?
It is not easy. The reasons being that you feel you don't belong to one particular group. I remember my mum who is from Lomanikoro in Rewa, telling us to work hard because education is to us, just as land is to the indigenous population. I remember applying for the FAB scholarship and got through because of my maternal links (vasu). There was only a few of us who worked really hard to get the FAB scholarship, one of whom was Ropate Cabealawa who got a Fijian Affairs Board scholarship to study law and is at the moment practicing at Guam. Being a part Fijian is something that I will always treasure because knowing my mothers roots, the customs and traditions, the language is very important part of my identity. Now, I am trying to trace my roots to the Solomon Islands. My aim is to try and relive that story that links the Fijians to the Solomon Islanders. I would like to do this through my research on Indigenous Epistemology, which is part of my Masters research.

What are some achievements in life you would like to share?
I have a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a Secondary Teacher Training Certificate, and tutor at the University of the South Pacific for the Commonwealth Youth Program (Labasa Center) and right now pursuing a Masters degree at Auckland University.

What are your plans for your children in appreciating their ancestry from the Solomon Islands?. . . . . . . . .
I talk to them about their family history, from their father's side from Nakorosule in Naitasiri to my koro ni vasu in Rewa. I emphasize to them the importance of knowing their Fijian and Solomon Islands roots. I share to them stories and songs that was taught me when I was young, so they remember the relationship between the indigenous Fijians and the Solomon Islanders. I want them to appreciate their maternal identity. I am now planning to take them to the Solomon Islands to meet their cousins and relatives who are back there. As they get older, I will tell them about the many things that the Solomon Islanders have done to develop Fiji, one of which was that my great grandfather was part of the people who had developed those Fiji roads. I want them to be proud of that.

Are there any other comments you would like share to those of mixed Solomon Islands ancestry reading this online?
For those who are of Solomon Islands ancestry, we need to realize that we cannot hide our identity. We need to hold our head up high and be proud of what our forefathers have done for Fiji. I believe this was part of God's plan that one day we will be living side by side with our fellow indigenous Fijians who are our brothers and sisters.

We need to encourage our children to hold on to education and keep on persevering so our visions and dreams will be fulfilled. It is important that our future generations know where they are from, their identity and how they got to be in Fiji, so we need to tell our stories and sing our songs like our forefathers used to do.