Massage is a common traditional healing practice in Fiji and the Pacific. Young people massage the feet, legs or bodies of their elders. Some masseurs work gently and softly, but the firm grip of others shocks every muscle, sinew and bone in the body. Some massage with their heel but most use their hands. Some healers shake their arms vigorously after giving a massage to expel the illness they fear may have passed from the sick person to the masseur.
Words too in Fiji are believed to cause what is stated. Words have power. We find this in the term vosavakadua (speak only once) which indicates an autocrat who must be obeyed immediately. A leader who enunciates a general principle but neglects the strategy may still expect a perfect result.
My friend had a migraine headache. I sympathized with her and asked her when it began. She said that her father must have invoked a curse on her years before, because of her failure to obey some command of his. I was shocked that she would believe that her loving father had inflicted a painful and recurring headache on her. Vosaavakadua indeed!
Columban Fr. Frank Hoare lives and works in Fiji.