Ratu Sukuna’s legacy lives on

Ratu Sukuna Memorial School student showcase traditional attires during the Ratu Sukuna Day celebration at their school last week. Picture: ITAUKEI AFFAIRS

For 16 years, knowledge about Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna wasn’t widely shared. During that time, many younger people lost touch on the late chief’s legacy.

So the week-long Ratu Sukuna celebration organised by the iTaukei Affairs offered an opportunity for all Fijians to learn about the late statesman’s accolades and his instrumental role in shaping the country into what it is today.

The official celebration which opened during the Great Council of Chiefs’ meeting on Bau Island was accompanied by a variety of events that unfolded from Wednesday last week to Monday this week.

The event drew students together at the Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna Memorial School (RSMS) grounds and the Fiji Museum in Suva.

The event was well attended by many students from different schools.

The event aimed to educate more about Ratu Sukuna, whose iconic momentum stands at the front of the Government Buildings in Suva.

Known for being the first Fijian to graduate from university level abroad, he was also the first Fijian to introduce the sulu vakataga, the first to fight for the French legion, the first speaker for the Legislative Council and the first secretary for Fijian Affairs.

He was widely recognised for his exemplary leadership.

More than 20 schools were part of this year’s Ratu Sukuna Day celebrations. Villagers and communities were invited to showcase their traditional iTaukei meke, cultural attire and food during the week.

Traditional iTaukei games were also introduced such as tuki tavola, vei ceu, lalafo, veitiqa and kari niu. Universities and schools from around the country also celebrated the event separately.

Toga District School deputy head girl, Seruwaia Grace Sadilo, who attended the celebration last week, said she didn’t know much about the late statesman until the event.

“I got a chance to learn more about Ratu Sukuna. “I came to know that he was the first Fijian to attend Wadham College at Oxford University in the UK and the first Fijian to sign up for the French Legion during World War I. Not forgetting he was a chief of Bau,” Sadilo said.

The 13-year-old from Gunu Village in Naviti, Yasawa said she would share her new found knowledge with family members and promote Ratu Sukuna’s aspiring legacy.

Also capturing the moment were students of Wairuku Indian School which Ratu Sukuna attended during his primary school days.

Students of Wairuku stood proud during the celebrations at Albert Park knowing the great statesmans humble beginnings were spent at their school in Rakiraki.

The school’s headgirl, Aavni Avita Sharma said the celebration meant a lot to her and her school because Ratu Sukuna, a former student went on to become a great leader of Fiji.

Aavni said she was proud to be part of this historical event.

“My simple message to other students is to be a student like Ratu Sukuna — he worked hard in school to become a great man,” she said.

The celebrations included a wide range of traditional iTaukei meke such as seasea, vakamalolo, meke wesi, and meke i wau.

It ended with an official closing at the State House on Monday evening.

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