Mana mai Viti — Mana of the Fijians

fiji fantastic

The Need by Dr Mike Gosling

Our poor, disadvantaged, and needy people in Fiji need hope, love, and service more than ever. FijiLIFE Foundation is an Australian Registered DGR Charity founded in 2021 to bring better living better life to Fijians.

March 23, 2023

From Fiji Fantastic by Tony Snowsill — To Buy Now — [CLICK HERE]

“Mana is too subjective to have a place in the legal system where certainty is a priority outcome.” NZ inquiry.

“What is mana in the eyes of the law? How would a court define mana? A theological court may well define the soul, but such a definition would easily be defeated in a court of law.” NZ inquiry.

I define ‘mana’ as ‘yaco dina na kena inaki,’ – Paul Geraghty
‘vakamanamanataka,’ meaning ‘make mana’ or ‘make effective’ sau (spiritual power).
The winds are the children of the great gods – J Patterson discussing Mana.
Early missionaries to Fiji found to their astonishment that Fijians, for generations before Christianity, had a religion headed by one God; and later discovered to their amazement that the many gods worshiped by these cannibal savages were but manifestations of the one god they worshiped. The missionaries spent their time thereafter trying to secrete that which they had discovered because they were loathed to admit that such cannibals had the one God. Researched by T Snowsill.
For Mauss (1972), Mana was a socially generated force universally underlying senses of magical efficacy, in fact encompassing the ‘sacred’ generally.
Levi-Strauss, expanding upon Mauss, suggested that Mana is ‘a universal and permanent form of thought’ arising from an imbalance between symbolism and knowledge, what he awkwardly called ‘a non-equivalence or ‘inadequation’ … a non-fit and overspill’ between signifiers and signified (1987: 53, 60, 62).
In one academic article written in the mid 1800s I found this about old Fiji in the discussion of weapons – : “Human kills were indicated by the inlaying of human teeth or ivory around the head, or by the cutting of notches on the grip. A weapon with many kills to its credit was thought to have achieved its own ‘mana,’ with power and life of its own. Apparently, the most common type of weapon in Fiji is a type of spear known as the lau. With a tip most commonly made of sharpened ivory or rock, the lau may not seem that imposing in the hands of one man, but multiply that one man by 1,000 and you get a weapon of some magnitude”.
In researching numerous academic articles I have concluded the following some of which may appear contradictory:
“Does the belief in a Creator God ultimately take faith? Yes. But it takes a lot less faith than the belief in none”. Unknown.
The Maori have a slightly different perception of MANA than do the Fijians.
In Levi-Strauss’ structuralist universe, where humanity endlessly reshuffles categories of identification and opposition, ‘a surplus of signification’ is inevitable in cultural projects Mana is a ‘floating signifier,’ absorbing such surplus signification. That is, according to Levi-Strauss, it is ‘devoid of meaning and thus susceptible of receiving any meaning at all,’ and he goes on to characterize it as ‘a symbol in its pure state’ (55, 64).
Source Retheorizing mana: Bible translation and discourse of loss in Fiji. Matt Tomlinson. Oceania 76.2 (July 2006): p.173 (13).
“Those who do not understand Fijian and Pacific Island traditions are unable to give literal credibility to the metaphysical theories associated with Fijian traditions”. As researched by Tony Snowsill.
“We cannot expect the English language suggestion of “ Mana” will be exactly or near the same as the true Fijian meaning or indeed similar to the meanings of other pacific islanders who hold Mana” as sacrosanct”. Tony Snowsill.
Mana – the treasure of the ancients – not a substance –but a feature of a type of relationship or fellowship – J Patterson.
So it is that all these words are written so as to try to explain the Mana of the Kai Viti (Fijian) and that of many of those born in Fiji.
Mana – the magic
But it is more!
e’ dina
(it is true)
My Son
Yalo – the soul
Sau – spiritual power
Mana the word used by “savages.”
A supernatural force within
The divine spirit in man
Flowing inside
An essence of nature
Transcends imagination
Is beyond our conscious understanding
Can be;
the worst evil
or greatest good.
An ontogenetic process of kinship
Acquired by;
talented use
from old gods
co-operation or conquest;
By an intelligent, just and productive life
and Mana
Gives unique powers of communication
linking many Fiji born.
To some small extent natural
Ingrained, inherent, innate
Instinctive, later intrinsic
Developable from childhood
Gifted by society
Cannot be taught
One cannot take it for oneself
Neither can you receive it
Cannot be inherited
It’s either there or it isn’t
Is community wide
A sensory perception.
It is gained by;
close associations
love of similar interests, lifestyles, conduct.
Gained not given!
A presence from within
Worn like a cloak
Enshrouds the bearer without
Created out of nothing
Can vanish without trace
Does not involve charisma
Can be a product of life experiences
A sense of belonging
Astonishing affinity
A miracle that causes wonder
Being able to identify as kin
Being one another’s kinfolk
With a specific compassion for Kai Viti
Amongst Fiji’s children
Being a child of Fiji.
Provides a close relationship with;
the land (vanua)
the sea (wai tui)
flora and fauna
Including, but more than:
Being performed by thought
Miraculous power
Pervading through the air
Power from spirits
Standing well with God
Founded on wisdom
Being able to achieve one’s goals
with graciousness, authority and dignity
Capturing sublimely
Enraptured divinely
Conspicuous serenity, affinity, infinity
Fusing place and soul
to some
Must be avenged!
A manifold relationship with kin
Empathy between peers and nobles
Respect, power, prestige
Mutual compassion
Heartfelt laughter, love, pity
Embodied compassion for another
A libidinal structure which grounds self and other
Prized fellowship
Crosses all boundaries
Essentially relational
Fundamentally a reality
An animating life-force
Providing influence and authority
An affinity with like persons
Natural love for one another
A special humility
A quality of spirit that commands respect
Binds our existence
Bonds stronger than blood.
Tony Snowsill. June/July 2007

To Buy Now – [Click Here]

fiji fantastic
Description by Tony Snowsill

Full colour photos abound. Fiji born author reviews the opinions of others regarding the Fijian Gods & culture of pre-Christian Fiji and suggests a differing viewpoint. The book subtly advocates keeping an open mind on many aspects of our lives today and provides a local’s insight into the “real Fiji” soon after the missionaries arrived. Fijian traditions and culture are presented in prose and poetry. Lessons observed and learnt during the author’s childhood and early adulthood in Fiji are similarly expressed.

The book also recognises the importance of the ANZAC Traditions in Australia, New Zealand &Fiji & commemorates those who paid the supreme sacrifice & those who served.

This book will make an excellent gift to friends or relatives or keepsake to those who have visited Fiji or intend visiting.

This book is printed to the following specifications and this corrects any other descriptions. Sydney, Australia’s Printer’s language

“Fiji Fantastic Book Perfect Bound Booklets / 4pp Cover Printed on Incada 280gsm Silk with Gloss Celloglaze on Outside 96pp Text Section Printed Full Colour on 200gsm Matt Art :Trimmed and Perfect Bound to Finished Size 210*150mm”

ISBN: 978 0 646 49236 0 (hbk.)

Copyright in the written or bibliographic data is held by Tony Snowsill or by the photograph image owners or by their respective licensors: all rights reserved.

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