Ratu Sukuna Day
Ratu Sukuna Day

Ratu Sukuna was a true nation-builder and visionary leader – Roko Tui Bau

Ratu Sukuna was a true nation-builder and visionary leader – Roko Tui Bau

By Iliana Biutu , Navitalai Naivalurua
Tuesday 21/05/2024
Source : Fiji Government

Ratu Sir Josefa Lalabalavu Vanayaliyali Sukuna was a true nation builder and visionary leader for our beloved Fiji, he prioritised education, and he also foresaw that the arrival and settlement of the Girmitiyas from India would transform Fiji into a multi-ethnic and multicultural country.

This is how his nephew and Turaga Na Roko Tui Bau, Ratu Timoci Tavanavanua remembers his uncle as we head into another year of celebrating Fiji’s iconic statesmen, Ratu Sukuna Day.

According to the Roko Tui Bau, Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna was born a chief of Bau, his father was Ratu Jone Madraiwiwi, and his mother was Adi Litiana Maopa, the daughter of the late Tuinayau.

He also had links to the Tui Cakau through his great-grandmother, Adi Talatoka, and he was also named after a Turaga na Tui Cakau Ratu Josefa Lalabalavu.

The last two names, Vanayaliyali and Sukuna, were from his grandfather, Ratu Mara Kapaiwai.

He says Ratu Sukuna’s passion was education and from his formative years, he displayed a thirst for knowledge attending Wairuku School in Rakiraki and later Waqanui School in New Zealand laying the foundation of his remarkable journey.

Ratu Timoci says Ratu Sukuna firmly believed that empowering everyone with life-changing tools of learning and knowledge was the key to Fiji’s progress using wise teachings instilled in the principle that we must utilize talents to uplift the entire community around us.

Ratu Timoci also highlighted a few memories, which his father told him about Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, where once his father asked him not to travel abroad after examining him following his retirement. He says this fell on deaf ears, and on that trip en route to England, he passed away.

Ratu Timoci also said that Ratu Sukuna was not considered, as part of their family as he belonged to the Kawa iTaukei, the Fijian people or the people of Fiji.

The Roko Tui Bau also remembered that his uncle played a pivotal role in World War 1 when he answered the call of duty, joining the French Foreign Legion and also the World War 2, where he built Fiji's defences and mobilizing able-bodied men to join the fight in the Solomon Islands, further exemplifying his commitment to our nation.

Ratu Timoci says this year’s Ratu Sukuna Day, we celebrate a towering figure who shaped modern Fiji into a unified resilient and progressive nation.

Ratu Sukuna Day celebrations will be held from next Wednesday to Friday.

The Ratu Sukuna Day public holiday is next Friday.

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