Legend of The Nanai

Legend of The Nanai

Long ago, two warring chiefs from different clans of Navosa, (Cabeta of the Burenitu clan, and Lewatunibovitu of the Noimalu clan) met beside a stream in the hills of Viti Levu, to make peace and decide exactly where the boundary between their lands should be.

After much arguing, they agreed that the Nadoi creek, a tributary of the Sigatoka River would be the perfect boundary between the Burenitu (Serua) and Noimalu (Navosa) communities. To strengthen the agreement, they exchanged traditional gifts. Lewatu ni Bovitu of Noimalu went first, presenting Cabeta with prawns, fresh from the river, saying, “Tavale, this is the Ura Dina, and from now on these prawns will be your food. There will always be plenty in your streams and they will never run out!” To this day, the Ura Dina (Freshwater shrimp, Macrobrachium lar) is the totem fish for the Burenitu Clan in the Serua Province.

Then it was Cabeta’s turn. He produced a small cicada which he presented to Lewatu ni Bovitu, saying, ” Tavale, this is the Nanai. From now on, these cicada will be your food, but they will only appear on your land every eight years.” To this day the Nanai (Raiateana knowlesi) is the totem for the Noimalu Clan in Navosa. Lewatu ni Bovitu thanked Cabeta, took the Nanai home and released it under a shady tree beside his favourite bathing pool which he named ‘Nubu ni Nanai.’

Just as Cabeta promised, the Nanai only appear every 8 years but in HUGE numbers. After just a month, they go to the ancient shady tree at Nubu ni Nanai where they sing loudly all day. When night begins to fall, they all die, fall into the pool and disappear…

Adapted from ‘Mai Veikau‘ by Dick Watling, available for $15.00.

nanai count 2017