Rotuma FlagA Rotuma flag
Icons of Power
BH: Why does the US flag fly over Mölmahao? It' not the US flag, it' s the flag of the United Nations. But the United Nations flag is different; it is dark red and yellow and has an outlines of the outside to it. This is really the flag of the United Nations; it just looks like the United States.
Soon after the second Fiji war in September 1987, a New Zealand part-Rotuman named Henry Gibson told the papers that he had pronounced the Rotuma Islands Fiji-free. Gibson said he was "king" of Rotuma and maintained a beloved following on the isle.
He argued that Rotuma had been surrendered to Britain apart from Fiji, and that when Fiji became a Republic and the Commonwealth abandoned, it had forfeited the right to rule Rotuma. It asked the Queens of England for acknowledgment of Rotuma's statute as an impartial state that would stay in the Commonwealth.
But his Rotuma supporters founded a new Rotuma Islands Board to supersede the Rotuma Board (consisting of chief and county representatives). This symbolises Gibson's supporters' dedication to the deed of assignment by which Rotuma's chieftains assigned the Isle to Britain in 1881.
They also embody the hopes that the King will recognise the hardship of Rotuma and help her move towards Fiji autonomy. This second flag was created by Henry Gibson. It' the Mölmahao flag. Gibson replied in a note to my question: "The significance of the flag waving at'MOLMAHAO' is the sacred'FA'APUI' of KING GAGAJ SAU LAGFATMARO, which is also listed in the KAVA CEREMONY" (pers. com., Sept. 26, 1988).
3 ] The third flag is Old Glory, which the Mölmahao group erroneously perceives as a United Nations icon. For them, this means the hopes that the United Nations will endorse their leader's statement of independent status (Gibson sent a note to the Secretary-General of the United Nations in which he set out his arguments for Rotuma's autonomy).
For me, this means that most of the icons Gibson has placed on his devotees have no cultural meaning. Mölmahao flag and rock basin. Banners are not the only kind of symbolic politics used by Gibson. Over and over again, he has emphasized the need to revitalize Rotuman civilization in the shape of artefactual and performance work.
To him, it seems that the keys to unlocking the intellectual power of Rotuma's predecessors and thus strengthening its power of politics are to be found in tradition. The majority of rotumans do not agree with this notion. Gibson can therefore be seen as an overestimation of the efficacy of craftsmanship as a symbol of politics.
He has also forced new shapes that mean power to him but have no root in the Rotuman world. In order to create a frame for the evaluation of Gibson's use of artistic form and to create the conditions for an analytical approach, I will first give a brief historic survey of the relation of the arts, status and policy on the Rotuma Isle.
In 1791, at the age of the first contacts with Europe, Rotuma had a number of well-developed artistic genres, among them tattoos, the production of shell jewellery, the production of delicate matting, oratorio, song, song and dance. In 1960, when I first came to Rotuma, none of the old folks were getting tattoos.
Today, some young men are getting a tattoo, especially those who have spend some quality seafaring but there are no practicians of the arts on Rotuma, and the tattooing has little symbolism. Lesson, who came to the Isle in 1824, described the Rotuman dress as "made of the most beautiful and fine fabrics".
Rotiuman ladies still produce delicate matting (apei), which is an important replacement for festive events. During weddings the newlyweds and grooms, honorary guest at a mummy ( "welcoming ceremony") or other persons who are granted a particular standing are seated on an Apee. Apies are also used to give presents of foods for a special occasion and as porches to holy particular individuals or objects (such as a marriage cake).
Out of all the tradional art productions, delicate blankets have the greatest symbolism on Rotuma. However, how long this will be the case is a problem, as the interest of the younger generations in their manufacturing has declined dramatically. In Rotuma there are four different types of performances: oratorio and song, dance and song, clownery and cava.
Ever since Henry Gibson in Rotuma launched a new type of dance show, a new kind of show, and suggested a new way for the ceremonial to take place in Karata, it is important for our analyses to take a brief look at the essence of these historical pieces. The Rotuman oratorio has been little known, perhaps in part because it is not the sophisticated arts that it is in many other Polish society.
However, the Rotumans appreciate their oratoric abilities, and there are some indications that they have always been. Nowadays, few individuals who say they have such expertise are willing to pass it on, but those who do can become a place for those who have an avid view. For Rotumans, quiet language means modesty that is appreciated by chieftains and citizens equally.
In most cases, the sermon is more of a Westerner's model than the Rotuman oratorio, which contains repeating oratorios. A few tend to make strong movements to emphasize their discourses, a kind of styles that stands in contrast to the Rotuman oratorios, where gesture and mimic are of little importance. However, regardless of the contexts, Rotuma admires powerful orators and the oratorio is an important part of modern music.
There are two other kinds of Rotuman chants: those chanted before struggles or wars to inspire one's own fighters and intimidate one's rivals or enemies; and those chanted at the reception of a chieftain or at the burial of a chieftain (Kaurasi 1977:144). From all Rotuman arts, the composition of song for specific events and the choreography of Tai Toga dance have outlived with the greatest strength.
For example, song and dance are among the most influential means of conveying the message and mobilising emotions in Rotuma today. Lastly, there is the ceremonial of Mount Kawa, which can be regarded as a kind of dramaturgy. Like in other Polish society, important Rotuma rites demand the introduction, preparing and service of cava for leaders and officials.
Gardiner (1898:424-425) and MacGregor (n. d.) well describe the foundations of the Rotuma tradition of ceremonially held cava. The following summary describes them. His mafu ( "spokesman") stands behind him and presides over the wedding. At the top of a parade of men with a meal, the root of caava is taken.
Place the cava so that the roots point to the chieftains, the foliage away. Confirmation of the speech by the morning mafia, who is calling "Kava". "The man who takes care of the cava then cuts off a small twig from the tree and pricks the cut!
12 ] If more than a bunch of cava is presented, this can be done again, whereby in addition the singer sings facpej. At the end of the facpej, the mafu invokes the name of the chieftains to whom a slice of caava is to be presented. For each chieftain, the man who takes care of the cave will cut off a slice of it.
After chewing, the masticated cava is put into a tano (kava bowl) with a vishnau (strip of fabric from the rind of the haw tree). When the brewer puts a strain on the brewing through the towel, he gives it to a companion who wrestles it out while a second companion is pouring hot or cold liquid over the mug.
Once the manufacturer has completed the preparations, it will call "Kavaite" (The cava is ready). In this case, the manufacturer puts down the Vehau and slaps twice with fleeced arms, then once aloud with the palm of his hand. A second companion then puts an ivu (coconut shell cup) into the shell, and the cava manufacturer raises the veena and empties it.
Then the servant says: "Kava taria" (The cava is ready). Then the mafu shouts "Taukavite se Maraf[or the name of the highest present person]" (Bring the mafu to Maraf.) The companion carries the mafu to the name of the individual whose name was summoned out and gives it, deeply bent, into his hand.
Then she goes back into the shell and, when the beaker is full again, shouts "Kava taria". This series of works of arts represents the spectrum of possibilities open to anyone who would mobilise red people' s feelings of politics with metaphor or symbol. With this in mind, I now turn to Henry Gibson in his attempts to take the lead on Rotuma's Fiji independency.
A Scotswoman residing on Rotuma in the mid-19th c., Henry Gibson is a high-ranking Rotuman from the Noatau area. Grown up in Rotuma, he immigrated to Fiji as a teen. Gibson came back to Rotuma in 1981 to celebrate the centenary of the island's handover to Britain.
At the Rotuma Council, Gibson was asked to give a display of fighting skills, and he committed himself. This must have been a remarkable occasion, because humans can still describe in detail how he smashed concrete and wood with his hand and how he tossed sham aggressors into the ocean.
He received much admiraction from the Rotumans during the rally, and many of them took part in the courses he provided. Gibson came back to New Zealand after some while on Rotuma and, according to a note he had written to me, "had an astronomical encounter with the ancients".
"REDU - MA-MA" is now called - ROTUMA. It brought me to ROTUMA and showed many very interesting things. A woman asked me to come into the building - when I came in, only three persons were present. 14 ] The woman presented herself as - "SAU HANI" and asked me to be seated in the middle and to present and minister to the - "KING" his "KAVA".
As I was serving the KAVA queens, the KAVA cup was kept for about 5 minutes by the KAVA queen and said: "It was a very long period, SINCE I KAVA DODK. I' d like you to have my KAVA LOWL and -UNTY MY FA'APUI and when it's done, I'm going to GAGAJ SAU LAGFATMAROIVE.
"Saw Hani " showed me how to blend the KAVA and its real significance, the symbolism of the offer of the - "FOUR" KAVA BOWLS in the "UMEF" KAVA, before the KAVA is serviced. KAVA NE ROTUMA" is the "AITU MAN-MAN TA", the remembrance of - "HANUA-MA-FUETA" and the existance of...
In ROTUMA the real significance of the CEREMONY of CAVA is........ "From this text it is clear that Gibson is intrigued by Rotuman words and goes in search of meanings through their interpretations. "But in this connection it can also mean either the word kinah (pronounced kinah if followed by a modifier), "strain first or seven" or "someone preparing kinah for the leader".
" Rotuma's cava, he wrote, is devoted to "AITU MAN-MAN TA" ('aitu man man man man ta), the "effective god", the remembrance of "the old land", and the presence of HANUA-HA-TA (probably handua ha' ta), "the Holy Land". "The forefathers who lived and found this part of the country held a ceremony - a "FAPUI" - a BONDING OF SACREDNESS".
That holy or "FAPUI" country was called by the "APEI-AITU" (High Prists) [15 as - "ROTU- (MA) -MA "....... (devotion and faith) -ROTUMA. Not one of the Gibson mentioned, and Lagfatmaro included, appears in any myth or legend that has been told by earlier generation of Europeans who have gathered orally. It may still be a real part of Rotuma's verbal story, but the fact that they are unfamiliar to everyone else I have spoken to implies that they are at best for a small group of people.
At this point I would like to point out that most Rotumans know little about the myth of tradition and are not familiar with the story of Rotuman. So there are few individuals willing to deny Gibson's allegations supported by an elderly relative who had assumed the name Kausakmua. Gibson rightly pointed out that most Rotumans can only track their lineage three or four generations back (Fiji Times, 7 January 1983:24), so Kausakmua's genetic makeup has remained largely incontestable.
Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro was given the nickname of Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro by members of his family group on Christmas Eve 1982. The Fiji Times reports that Gibson's "clan" honored him with a "timeless" body of scarce cauri clams, which they laid on his would. The paper also said Gibson would return to New Zealand and then travel to his Sydney atelier to leave Kausakmua to run things for him on Rotuma and keep him posted.
On the next morning another paper was published saying: "The Grand Master of Martial Arts, Professor Henry Gibson, reconstructed the Mulmahao in Rotuma to turn it into a museum" (Fiji Times, 8 January 1983:30). It cites Gibson as saying that the site is a tourist attraction that could be visited due to the new airfield.
"In order to maintain their identities, human beings must return to traditions and culture. "In fact, Gibson and his supporters erected buildings at two locations on Rotuma. Perhaps the memorial mentioned in the above message is a kilometre away, on a property owned by the Gibsonns.
It is a low entrance that is open to all sides and thatch-covered, which forces the visitors to bow deeply when they enter. Another Fiji Times report was published a few month later. The title was "Call for Rotuman Antiques" and was as follows: The Reds seek the restitution of their ancient artifacts from Fiji and other lands.
Rotuma Island Council, chaired by Mr T.M. Varea, has authorised Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro, popularly known as Professor Henry Gibson, to demand the restitution of the artifacts. Prof. Gibson said that despite the island' s inhabitants' condemnation, the humans had excavated old objects in Rotuma. Said a former Rotuma district officer, Mr. Aubry Parke, had said he had unearthed an old shell of Aaqona.
Mr. Parke, who now resides in Brisbane, said the dish was in the Fiji Museum. Prof. Gibson said that he had sent a letter to the director of the Fiji Museum, Mr. Fergus Clunie, asking for the artifacts to be restored and that he had also been there. Prof. Gibson said that the Rotuma bone should be brought back to the Isle, as everyone wants their forebears to be laid to rest in one place.
Said that with the artifacts, "Perhaps Rotuma could one of these days have a mine. "All the Rotuman artifacts in the Rotuman exhibit have been recorded," he said, except the yeqona shell. that the artifacts could be given back to Rotuma. Prof. Gibson said he would be sending the Council's newsletter with a cover text to other Rotuman artifacts related institutions around the fortress.
Said he was hoping that the artifacts would soon be given back and that the Rotuman population would work together to re-establish their civilization and worth. Said other folks wouldn't know the value of the objects unless they appreciated it. Prof. Gibson is a high ranking head of Rotuma (Fiji Times, 30 May:10).
It signalled a controversy between Gibson and the then director of the Fiji Museum, Fergus Clunie, over the disposal of Rotuman-Artefacts. Cleric Clunie declined to acknowledge Gibson's credentials as Rotuman spokesperson and turned against his untrained petrification in archeological places. It was threatening to take steps to confiscate and bring artefacts from unauthorised excavations to the Fiji Museum.
Responding to an November Times editorial that questioned his credentials, Gibson said the resurrection of his paper had sparked a new interest in Rotuman culture and relationships. He reiterated his plea in a note to the publisher to return the stony pot of cava taken from Rotuma by Aubry Parke (Fiji Times, 12 December 1983:6).
It is of spiritual and ritual importance for the "Clan Molmahao". We, the Rotuman peoples of Fiji, in our plea to recover our Umef Cava dish and our right to build a culture center on our home island of Rotuma. For this purpose I will hold out until we are dignified and our Tanoa[Kava Bowl] returns (Fiji Times 12/12/83, p. 6).
The new chieftain Gibson complained that the new chieftain came from another county  and called for the Lagfatmaro titel to be recognised as "parallel" to that of Maraf and established as a chieftain (Fiji Times 10 Jan. 1985:3). This was followed by an interesting discussion in which critics claimed that the Lagfatmaro name was not recognised in Rotuma, and the Mölmahao group claimed that Maraf was not a Rotuman name, that it was a variation of the Tongan name Ma'afu, the name of a Tongan who captured Rotuma, probably in the 17th and 17th centuries.
23 ] Gibson is quoted: "The resurrection of the Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro name is an effort on my part to revitalize the real Rotuma people's civilization, traditions and identity", and "the political presence in the Rotuman (sic) chieftain elections destroys our culture" (Fiji Times 16 Jan. 1985:8).
However, Gibson was not able to win the backing of the Rotuman Fellowship as a whole, and his aspirations were not realized. He was a showcase for the whole of society against para-health interests (see Howard 1985 for a detailed debate on Rotuman kingship). Gibson replied to furious protests that he claimed unreasonably to be "king of Rotuma" and that he only claimed to be King of the Mölmahao Clans, which, he claimed, covered the seven counties because of their original ancestry.
Towards the end of 1985, the conflict between Gibson and his supporters on the one side and Fergus Clunie of the Fiji Museum on the other side, over the protection of intellectual property interests arose. It was the chain of cayurian mussels that Gibson was given when he installed it in 1982.
It was supposedly excavated from a tomb at the Mölmahao-Stiftung and, according to Gibson, was part of the Lagfatmaro. On 30 November Clunie came to Rotuma with a detention order to bring the mussels to the Fiji Museum for "safekeeping", which had been duly authorized by the Fiji Supreme Court, claiming that it had answered the question by shifting if the response was "yes" and remained silent if the response was "no".
Thereupon, the senior attorney, the head of the prosecution, a district attorney and a number of officers went to Rotuma on a rented plane on 4 December. Under Fiji's archaeological and Paleolithic law of interest, Gibson was commissioned to dig out his ancestors' tombs in a systematic manner to extract and bring to his Noatau museums ancient relics.
Gibson's attorney came on the same plane (Fiji Times 4 Dec. 1985:1). Gibson is cited on the evening before the trial: Her inheritance is the center and spirit of the Clans and the emblem of their king" (Fiji Times Sunday Magazine 15 Dec. 1985:7). At the end of the case, Gibson was cleared of unlawful excavations but sentenced for storing artefacts of historic and archeological interest, the cowry snail.
Fiji Times journalist who took part in the process was relieved at the results and concluded that there would be no risk of a bloodletting as a consequence of the verdict (or rather a non-decision). Abstaining from his Christian education on the date his name was repented by Henry Gibson, he now reveres the "supreme being" through his lavish mornings and evenings rites "yaqona".
This ritual has led to negative commentary, and he has tacitly been subjected to the reproaches of "voodooism, sorcery, heathenism, the devil worshipper...." of his own nation - the Reds. Included in the ritual are two meetings with cava. "This does not mean that I do not regard other people's religions, but at the same moment I must also demand that they do.
" It' s this profound attachment to Rotuman civilization that is recognized by the Supreme Magistrate at the sentencing, and an unshakable sign of appreciation and esteem for which they are ready to struggle (Fiji Times Sunday Magazine 15 Dec. 1985:7). This item is complemented by a painting of Gibson carrying the chain at the Mölmahao basic cabinet, with a painting of Gibson carrying the chain in the foreground. This painting is the only decor in the cabinet.
In his verdict, the Supreme Judge ordered Gibson to do everything in his power to catalog all artefacts in his collection and provide information about them to the Fiji Museum. It has thus officially approved the Mölmahao Cultural Centre and Museum's work. Throughout the process, the statement by the Rotuma Board Chairperson that Gibson was authorized by the Board to gather and receive historic artefacts was also upheld.
Directly in front of the straw-covered edifice, which is used as a centre of art, there is a Rotuman and English inscription. Gibson and his supporters have apparently missed the seeming discrepancy between the museum as custodian of Rotuman civilization and its personal possession. "In answer to my question, Henry Gibson made the following statement in his letter:
It also speaks of - "WHAT TO THE CAVA OF - ROTU(MA) MA, WHAT TO HOUR, HOW and WHEN- TO offer THE CANOY. We' re informed that the Rotuman name of the Hual is Hofuena (Rise of the Moon). At the centre of the cabin is a stony artefact in the form of a tanoah, allegedly found headfirst in the ocean at a place Gibson specified after a sketch.
Supposedly the men who were accompanying Gibson in the raft could not raise it, but he immersed himself and had no difficulty in lifting it. It was described as a pot of cava belonging to Fonmanu, the Lagfatmaro family. It has a fabled name for insemination of Rotuman wives who came to him from different regions to have babies with "royal" sires.
Gibson told the story in his note to me in the following words: In ROTUMA ("es ne ITU'U") the most important clan of today's seven counties have received their KINGDOM OF "FAR SAU" (with the request for a license) from "MOLMAHAO" via "GAGAJ SAU FONMON". Insulated chieftains from all over ROTUMA came to him and introduced their girls, who asked through him for a connection to the kingdom.
On the one side the Rotuman term'ese' can mean'to have' or'to possess', on the other side it can mean'to have' (as noun),'to bear' or'to bear' (as verb). Usually the Rotuma county leaders are called the" itu' itu'u", which means "chief[who] has a district".
" Gibson, on the other hand, uses'ese in the second meaning and thus comes to "chief[who is] descendants of Sau" and "procreation of districts". We' ve been instructed that Gibson is sitting in the culture center on a delicate blanket (apei) above the center rock from the Kava servers which uses a wooden entanoa to service the cava.
It also comes "in spirit" to portions of cava and, the janitor said, at midnight, when it comes, its shade is seen when it leaves to take its place. The janitor served the cava by pouring it (into the bowl) for each of the eight sauces. It began with the janitor placing the crushed cava in a cheese cloth pouch without running cold and then he called out to Lagfatmaro.
Then he put eight bilos (coconut cups) of hot chocolate in the wood tanoah in front of him, while his assistent was blowing a shell eight time. Then the janitor would pour the cava into the shell once in each way. He and his assistants slapped rhythmic with every portion of cava.
The first seven claps were made with the palm of their hand crossing, the last one with their finger outstretched, their arms in line. So Lagfatmaro instructed them to conduct the wedding, they said. Lagfatmaro was said to have been writing to museum s-all over the globe and to have purchased a series of photos of Rotuman artefacts, but that they got all soggy in a windstorm and were destroyed.
"It is my pleasure to present to you the past work of Rotuman in the way that has given the Rotuman and you the VISITORto insight. Adequate proofs of past global histories have prompted the willingness, sacrifices, perseverance, and charity to accommodate the lacking members of Rotuma's past.
I would like you to join me in the joy of discovering the many[incomprehensible words] for.... ancestor-bone, artifact and adze spread all over the islands, to be protected after an old Rotuman ceremonial in accordance with the traditions and cultures.... for the suspending of the ancestors and the suspending of their family.
Ever since my first trip to Rotuma in 1962,[two incomprehensible words] to my dismay and frustration, I have had the....uncare old funeral that once was a beautiful work of art....dissolved into a pile of complete ruins. Rotuma means . In fact, the advent of Christianity, along with the whaler vessels that passed through our seas, was instrumental in changing attitudes and abducting many Rotuman artefacts to various areas.
Attempts were made to demand the restitution of Rotuman artefacts to Rotuma from various global art galleries by His Royal Highness King Gagaj Sau Lagfatmarª II of the Royal Mölmahao Family. The strongest clash with the Fijian government's law arose when the oldest members of the Royal Mölmahao Family attempted to revitalize Rotuman civilization and traditions....
" There are many tales about Gibson's behaviour and the way his supporters treated him when he visited Rotuma. We' ve been instructed that when he comes (by plane), his supporters sing a ki, a ceremonial convention conventionally appropriate when a high chieftain comes by ship or die and is taken to the tomb (see section above on handed-down art).
27 ] As soon as they are sitting on the blanket, they conduct a morning greeting and anoint it with almonds. I' m informed that his supporters are carrying around an Apee on which Gibson can seat wherever he goes. Apparently the head of the area where the airfield is situated has made an order prohibiting these rituals from taking place there, but the airfield director, a Gibson ambassador, said he was in charge of the airfield and had given the go-ahead to continue.
In 1986, when the Fairstar touristy boat first came to Rotuma, some informers claimed that Gibson was sitting on a blanket, except for the wardens. 29 ] He was cheered on by two New Zealand whites who came to accompany him on this trip to Rotuma  and by some of his sisters.
A number of folks were complaining that Gibson's supporters ignored the chieftains and performed their own cava ceremonies by sucking the shell and ministering to him first. Humans also tell tales of Gibson's efforts to commune with the pre-Christian ghosts believed to have dwelled in Rotuma and absorbed their clout.
The Reds call this re àtua (doing spirits) and compare it to "devil worship", a praxis that violates their religious sensitivity. Gibson reportedly took his supporters into the outback for several acres. I' m informed that one of the reason Gibson is so loved by his supporters is that he is a good story teller.
These reports of Gibson's behaviour concentrate on his seeming possession of the power that most Rotumans associate with his character as a karatemaster. It is able to move the cayurian mussel chain as desired and make a cava shell appear. After the first Fiji takeover in May 1987, an urgent meeting of the Rotuma Council was convened to consider Rotuma's post.
The members of the board decided to promise their assistance and to stay part of Fiji. At the beginning of June, Gibson sent a note to the fellowship and on 11 June he personally turned to the fellowship, stating his concerns that the situation of the Rotumans would worsen as a consequence of the military coup. a....
Said he would not comply with the Council's decision to stay with Fiji. A few workdays later he came back to New Zealand. Last July, in response to Gibson's requests, the Governing Board sent a representative to the Great Board of Chiefs to reflect Rotuma's wish to stay part of Fiji.
One of the committee's statements was that when the mission returned, a meeting was organized in each of the seven Rotary districts to hear the opinions of the Rotary population. It was the overpowering opinion of the vast majority of Rotumans who participated in these gatherings that Rotuma should stay a part of Fiji, even though Fiji should become a republic (Fiji Times, 10 June 1988:41).
" At the end of July, Governor Ganilau was informed of the wish of the Rotuma tribe and chieftains to stay part of Fiji. After the second attempted state and Fiji's statement as a non-British Commonwealth country in September 1987, the Rotuma Council held another meeting and decided that Rotuma would continue to be part of Fiji.
Gibson in October proclaimed independence from his native New Zealand Rotuma and sent a letter of appreciation to Queen Elizabeth. "In December 1987, the day of the Gibson installations as Lagfatmaro, his supporters hoisted the British flag over the Mölmahao Cultural Centre. Angry at this act of spite, the county lieutenant, a young Rotuman man, apparently went into the middle and shot several times at the flag.
Only a few and a half day later, a thirteen-man, all-Rotuman army was sent to Rotuma "to prevent a major explosion of major damages to feral pigs' crops," according to the Fiji Ministry of Information. He has been succeeded by a pensioned army official, also a Rotuman, who has been assigned to bring the helm.
A number of Gibson supporters gathered in April 1988 and, with his blessing, chose a new group of leadership, one per Rotuma neighborhood, to assert their leadership in Rotuma. 31 ] A short time later, a Fijian policing force was sent to Rotuma to examine accounts of "alleged insurrection" on the isle. Eight men were then accused of incitement to hatred and sent to Suva for brief detention before returning to Rotuma.
There was a rally of the Rotuma district courthouse in May to bring the charge. Tevita Fa, the defendant attorney, said that the case did not fall within the court's competence because it had not been finally determined that Rotuma was indeed part of the Republic of Fiji.
In 1881 the Rotuman chieftains had assigned the Isle to Great Britain, not Fiji, and when the Fiji constitution was repealed, all other legislation, except the deed of assignment, was repealed; therefore, the Magistrate's tribunal had no authority to heard the case (Fiji Times, 9 June 1988:8).
It was sent to the Supreme Court in Fiji, where the Supreme Court decided that "Rotuma became part of Fiji through the most ceremonial act of belief and confidence by the chiefs and people" (Fiji Times, 10 June 1988:41), and that the Magistrate's Court was indeed competent.
This case was tried in October 1988, but postponed for a year until October 1989, with the express expectation that things would calm down and come to an end. Gibson, from New Zealand, asked in the official press for a secure escort to come to Fiji to take part in the process, but was finally told that he had to be arrested on his return (Fiji Times, 28 November 1989: 2).
I would like to raise in this inference the issue of whether Henry Gibson may have had a reasonable chance to mobilise and fail the Rotuman spirit in supporting its causes. For example, is it possible that if he had acted differently and used art assets more efficiently, he could have won a large number of Rotarians for a step toward becoming independent?
Would he have been able to use the cultural center as a stepping stone for the development of a Rotuman identities that would become a powerful and politic? We must point out that after his 1981 carate march he received a lot of good will and adoration from the Rotuma population.
A lot of folks on the isle say that what he wants to do isn't evil - they at least are expressing passively agreeing with his aims - but they warn him that he's doing it upset. Other relieve Gibson, but accuse his more eager supporters of going too far. Indeed, there is much support among the Rotumans for the concept of a Rotuma that is not affiliated with Fiji.
The Fiji administration has been criticised by many for its neglect of the country and has not felt well taken care of since Fiji's 1970s independence. 32 ] Staying a part of the Commonwealth is important for a number of history-conscious islands who attribute their origins to the rulers who cededed Rotuma to Britain in the last millennium.
Most Rotumans were willing to consider the option of an autonomous Rotuma, or one that had much more independence than today. But Henry Gibson has not succeeded in using these friendly approaches and mobilising them for policy-making. A further element that Gibson should have leveraged is dissatisfaction with the chieftains and the inefficiency of the Rotuma Council.
The chieftains who are involved in the preservation of Rotary's legacy bemoan the fact that they are unaware of tradition and neglect their responsibility for upholding it. Almost everyone laments that the chieftains do not commune efficiently with the population. Many if not most Rotumans believe that there is a void in terms of efficient guidance.
However, Henry Gibson, even as Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro, has not persuaded her that he is the man for it, despite his promises that he would increase their standards of live. Had Gibson, instead of stressing the icons associated with his karat practice, which is mainly of Oriental philosophical origins, placed more importance on objects of Rotuman descent, would the tribe have reacted differently?
Perhaps, but it is difficult to imagine icons that are of particular importance to the vast majority of Rotarians. Only a few persons were struck by the cultural centre. Its artefacts - the mussels, skull, cava dishes, rock dishes and cages - have no particular symbolism. Even the Mölmahao flag, the hydrogen and sharks logos, and the yin-yang badge are insignificant to his closest pendants unless they are Gibson ID.
Maybe Gibson could have used the oratorio or the media of folk dance and song better to communicate his message. Many of Gibson's uses of culture artefacts and many of his acts can be interpreted as an effort to improve his own Mana or his own power. All of his trips to islands and graveyards, his reconciliation with pre-Christian ghosts, his excavation of heads and burial objects, his revisions of the cult of St. Cava, his building of the sanctuary in Mölmahao and last but not least his adoption of the name Lagfatmaro are aimed at strengthening his own intellectual power.
For most Rotumans, however, they are an abomination. Instead of mobilising a sense of Rotuman traditions, identities, and civic independence, he focused on himself and his state. In Rotuma and Polynesia there are two basic aspects: a royal and a populistic one ("Marcus 1989").
As I have already emphasized elsewhere, in Rotuma the populistic dimension of the chieftainty dominated the policy ideas (Howard 1985, 1986). However, Gibson has decided to disregard the populistic facets of chief rule in favour of a search for God's power. In this respect it was incompatible with the Rotuman civilization a parade of "NOBLES" with their - "UMEF KAVA"[Kava bowls].
The Mölmahao Fondation, where Gibson, as Lagfatmaro, drank Kana with his religious forefathers and received their valuable presents, is now flying the US flag. Nobody on Rotuma seems to know why.... or he's very interested. As a Fulbright fellow, my spouse, Jan Rensel, conducted ethnographical research on Rotuma and was involved in the collection of the information used in this work.
Also I thank Vilsoni Hereniko, who reviewed an early version of this document and made informative commentaries, and Mari Ralifo and Luisa Finiasi for making available pertinent Fiji Times press-reports. In 1940 Rotuman grammar and dictionary. Gardiner, J. Stanley 1898 "Natives of Rotuma. Hereniko[ Tausie], Vilsoni 1977 "Dance as a mirror of Rotuman culture.
" Rotuma: Split Island. Edited by Chris Plant, 120-142. Suva, Fiji: Howard, Alan 1963 "Conservatism and non-traditional leadership in Rotuma. Hallucinations of the Rotuman-King. In 1986 "Cannibal chiefs and the Charter of Rebellion in the Rotuman Myth. In 1990 "Dispute Management in Rotuma. Kaurasi, Mosese 1977 "Rotuman Gesänge, Sport und Freizeit.
" Rotuma: Split Island. Ed. Chris Plant, 143-152. Suva, Fiji: MacGregor, Gordon n.d. Field Notes on Rotuma. Rensel, Jan 1991 "Housing and social relations on Rotuma. "In Rotuma: Hanue Pumue (Precious Land), by Anselmo Fatiaki et al., 185-203. Histoire de Rotuma.