As part of his first official State visit, the Prime Minister Honourable Sitiveni Ligamamada Rabuka and his delegation presented the traditional ceremony of the “boka” (January 20th, 2023) to the people of Kiribati to reaffirm our commitment to kinship and solidarity.
The “boka” is a Fijian ritual practice which is usually performed to acknowledge the deep sense of grief, usually reserved for the passing away of a loved one.
In introducing the traditional practice to the President of Kiribati His Excellency, Mr Taneti Maamau, Fiji’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director Oceania Mr Jonetani Tagivetaua said “the boka is especially observed and practiced by close relatives to acknowledge deep and sincere regret for not being present in the ritual ceremony and period of mourning during a funeral rite of passage”.
“It is also an affirmation of one’s commitment to kinship and solidarity.”
Mr Tagivetaua said that the word boka, for the people of Lau translates to “I see you”.
“In this ceremony, Fiji is saying: “Kiribati, I see you, and we therefore recommit our obligation to you as an integral part of the Fijian family and our Pacific community,” he added.
Prime Minister Rabuka said in Kiribati that the traditional ceremonies of the “boka”, “isevusevu” and apology accorded to the people of the small island nation were significant in our efforts to promote regionalism within our Pacific vuvale.
His Excellency Mr Maamau acknowledged the traditional ritual and reaffirmed his island nation’s commitment towards regional cooperation and exploring areas of common interests.
He said he was deeply honoured to have been presented with the ‘boka’- a traditional expression that certainly reinforced our friendship and Pacific vuvale spirit.
At the same time, Prime Minister Rabuka sought the forgiveness of the people of Kiribati for Fiji’s ‘mistakes of the past in failing to unite the Pacific Islands Forum family’.
Prime Minister Rabuka told the islanders during his ‘isevusevu’ that “we are with you as your brothers and sisters, we are with you as one people of the Pacific”.
“We give you our commitment that we will continue to play our part to preserve the Pacific, and its people, culture, and its land and its rich fishing grounds for the generations to come,” he added.
“I give you our word, our assurance and I bring with me the blessings of the God of heaven and earth that we worship and I pray that you will all continue to be blessed. I pray that you will all continue to live where your ancestors lie.”
In response, His Excellency Maamau highlighted that Kiribati looks forward to further strenthening its bilateral relations and historical links with Fiji.