Who Can Really See?

Fr. Frank Hoare

An excerpt from Columan Fr. Frank Hoare’s diary dated April 14, 1978               

Archbishop Petero Mataca confirmed about 50 young people at Nabala (Fiji) today. As part of the preparation we priests had invited Beniamino, a blind dau ni vucu (composer) from Bua Vou Village to teach a meke (group dance). He stayed with us for about six weeks. I noticed that each time he entered the church he would tama (announce himself respectfully). After receiving communion he would sit immediately and cobo (clap respectfully) before being led back to his place in church. Inculturation of his faith was natural for him.

Beniamino sat every evening on the verandah with his three assistant ladies to compose the meke. He would hum to himself for a while and then tell one of the ladies what words to write in her notebook. When a verse was complete he would get his small choir to sing it for him as he worked out the body movements and gestures. I was fascinated and asked to participate in the meke wesi (spear dance). Once the meke was composed, the dance group practiced every afternoon for a fortnight.

Today, before the performance the pale skin of my upper body was rubbed with oil. Then black circles were inscribed on my cheeks and forehead. I tied a grass skirt and ringlets of green leaves on my arms. Our group of twenty marched onto the ground to gleeful shouts from the onlookers.  With the shouting and yelling I couldn’t hear the beat of the lali (drum) and mistimed some gestures. However I was right there for the final charge, the leap and the group shout in front of the Archbishop at the end.

This evening I presented Beniamo with a dozen packets of cigarettes in thanksgiving. He immediately shared out the cigarettes among a group of youths who were sitting around him. Beniamino was a man who knew and lived his culture.

Fr. Frank Hoare

About us

Columban logoThe Columbans are a society of missionaries, including priests and lay people, who minister to people of various cultures as a way of witnessing to the universal love of God.

We go in the name of the Church to announce, by deed and word, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

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Missionary Society of St. Columban
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