Rotuman topics - video part 2

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See part 1.

5. Harvest Festival
A harvest season goes hand in hand with harvest festivals. The villages organize these harvest festivals, called shows by Rotumans. The main goal of these festivals is to present the harvest and the mats. Prizes are handed out for the best harvest. The prize money is put together by the invited guests. The men who don't win a prize have to give away their presented harvest and go home empty-handed. The mats are sold or taken back home.

The harvest festival takes place underneath a iron roof. Around the poles, palm branches are plaited and the floor is covered with mats. There's a lot of dancing going on during the harvest festivals, always in a man-woman combination. When someone feels like dancing, he or she gets up and asks a partner.

What can't be missing on such an occasion is the extensive meal. The food is displayed on a long table. Women and girls waver with their fans constantly to keep the flies at distance, while people walk by to fill their plates. Part of the food is prepared in an earth oven.

The women sit on the sides and the children play around. An electronically amplified band takes care of the music. The island has two electronic bands that play at all kinds of festivals in change of money. Men are gathered in a corner around a bowl of grog. Grog, also called kava, is a drink that works like a drug, which is usually drunk by men, but also by women.

Now and then, a woman starts clowning. The woman that goes clowning usually makes insinuating, sexual movements towards her partner. She makes funny faces and uses other ways to get the attention of the crowd.

6. Koua - earth oven
A koua is usually made for special occasions, in this case, the departure of family members to Fiji. A koua is an earth oven, but also refers to the food that is cooked in the earth oven and the meals that are prepared in this manner.

The koua can be made in the ground as well as above the ground. The basic principle is that the food can be cooked in the ground (in a hole) as well as above the ground by means of using hot stones. A fire heats the stones. When the stones are hot enough and the fire is put out, the food can be laid down on the hot stones. Men and women have different chores during the preparation of the koua.


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The men heat the koua, plait the baskets for transporting the food and clean the pork. In the meantime the women prepare the vegetable packs, called 'al 'ikoe. To do this they first shred the pulp of the coconut and wring this out until a kind of oil remains. This oil is called lolo. They form piles of leafs of the a'ana, a root crop. These leafs, called ikoe, are the most important vegetables on Rotuma. They are folded into a bowl, to which lolo and thinly sliced onions are added. The whole is folded up in banana leafs and fastened up with a palm leaf.

All this, together with breadfruits and a'ana's is put on hot stones. Beef and fekei, a native pudding can also be prepared in the koua. The total package is covered with big green leafs, that keep the heat in and protect the food against the sand. Often an old mat is put on top of it and finally the whole is covered with canvas and sometimes sand.

A big koua is sometimes left covered throughout the night, while a small koua such as this can be opened after about three hours. The whole process of making a koua can take up many hours.

7. Boatday - departure
At the end of the Christmas holiday, many people go back to Fiji or other destinations where they live and work. Some of them are leaving the island for the first time, because they are attending college in Fiji. Others make the crossing almost every year. When the water is turbulent, the boat has to stay in deep water and passengers and goods are transported with smaller speedboats to and from the boat. A lot of luggage comes along, especially goods that are expensive or unavailable in Fiji or anywhere else in the world.

8. Airplane
Since 1981, Rotuma has a runway in the Malhaha district. Once a week a plane lands on Rotuma. At Christmas time, many planes are overbooked. This means that people, despite of the fact that they have a ticket, can't get on the plane and sometimes have to wait two weeks or even longer to get a seat. Many people gather at the airport to send off family and friends who go to Fiji.