Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Faikava Faka'osi (Final Kava Ceremony)

Another part of goodbyes in Tonga is holding a final faikava (kava ceremony) for the man who is leaving. It's funny to think about the mystery of kava culture to me a year ago, and how much a part of my life it has become. On the island, it is essentially the equivalent of hitting the town and having a good time with your buddies. I have grown to love it so much, and I will always fondly remember my times at kava as some of the times that I felt most connected to these people, this island, and this culture. In many ways, to me and all the men that I am close with, the goodbye feasts and gifts were only a precursor to this, the real party.

I wanted to celebrate right, so I bought a bunch of canned sodas, candy, bags of kava, and tobacco to bring. This might sound like a funny combination, but to a group of Tongan guys, these are all the necessary ingredients for a truly good party. Most of the guys had already shown up to the hall, so I entered, put down my box of goodies at the appropriate spot, did the kava handshake circle, and was asked for the first time to sit in the seat of the "matapule", the seat of highest honor that is directly opposite of the "kumete" (wooden kava bowl). Then, I gave a little speech of appreciation and respect to them and kava culture, and the party got underway.

Eventually, most every male on the island came to join in. Some men from Matamaka even made the trip across the island for it. After a while, because I couldn't resist on my last kava, I got my ukulele and moved to join the band. The music was played, the kava was drunk, and the good times rolled late into the night. I stayed as long as I could, knowing that I would need the energy the next day to move. It was another wonderful way to end things, to say goodbye, and to bring closure for our time on our wonderful island.


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