Tulia Delves into Family History
‘Strength of a Name’ is the title of a new book written by a young woman with a marked strength of character. Tulia Nacola carries a family name that is widely recognised in Fiji and has translated what lies behind it into a fascinating book about her antecedents. A work of creative non-fiction, it delves into her family history and the lives and times of her dad and mum, Ratu Jo and Anne Nacola. Nacola, 35, is a respected woodworker and furniture designer who grew up in Suva city. Her village is Soa, in Ra, and she lives in Waikalou, Navua, where she finds peace to write. She said her book tells the story of a little boy growing up in his village in Ra and how he encounters situations, especially about his identity. It follows his life into adulthood when he goes to the city and pursues an education abroad, ultimately becoming an academic, writer and later an elected politician. He falls deeply in love with a girl of different background and together they share and learn from their pasts. “I have always been fascinated with the stories my parents told about their childhood, how they met and travelled the world together. It was a different time and place that I will never see or experience but now appreciate. I wanted to keep their stories alive so others can appreciate them.” Tales told by Nacola’s bubu Sera in the village during school holidays and her strong association with the environment give reality to the characters and the often hard village life her book describes. One of the most moving chapters is in an early scene of how a woman about to give birth struggles to walk to the nearest midwife in a village miles away and finally has her baby alone by the side of the bush track. The fate of that child is the thread that holds the book together and weaves insights on customs, traditions and beliefs. Nacola said that the process of writing the book over a full year was deliberately isolating, making her selfish of the time she spent with others: “My social skills were deteriorating.” “My source of income is through my furniture business. When I knew that I wanted to write this book I also knew that I would have to make a lot of sacrifices. I could afford to write for a year while I put the furniture business on hold and I had someone very special who was also willing to help me. “If I wanted to finish this book, I had to commit to it otherwise I would start up my furniture business again and then I would never return to the book. If I failed I would have wasted a lot of time. “I got into a routine where I would meditate in the morning,
then listen to the audio of the Secret and other motivational speakers. Soon after I’d sit at my laptop and let the words flow. Every time I’d finish a chapter I would reward myself with a glass of wine, which was a great incentive to finishing four chapters in a day!” The feeling Nacola got from completing the book has left her wanting more…“I have been toying with a couple of ideas which I have shared with friends and the support has fuelled my excitement to begin my next novel.” The title of her first one, ‘Strength of a Name’, stems from the practice prior to the nineteenth century when the history of the Fijian people was not recorded in writing but passed down through names and stories, Nacola explained. Events and ceremonial occasions were recorded in the naming of a new-born child. The name was alive and evoked the thoughts, beliefs and history of the people. “When a child carries the name of an elder, it is believed the achievements of the previous owner are kept alive and assure a bright future for the new one being named.” That being the case, the child who carries Tulia Nacola’s name should be especially endowed.
Tulia Nacola shows off her first book.
Nacola’s mum and dad, Anne and Ratu Jo in their younger days.