A band name with an intriguing story

Surviving member of the ‘Cabebula’ group Timoci Naulusala. Picture: VILIAME ODROVAKAVULA

Itaukei sigidrigi groups often bear names that denote their village or origin. But once in a while a band comes along with a more than interesting name that often has an intriguing story behind it.

One of those bands was the legendary sigidrigi ensemble known as ‘Cabebula’ from the village of Naveicovatu in Wainibuka, Tailevu.

Sole surviving member Timoci Naulusala said the group was named after the late Dr Iliesa Naituku.

Dr Naituku survived the rough seas surrounding Totoya Island in Lau, and drifted to the village of Dravuwalu when the boat he was travelling in was swept away.

“Dr Naituku was with a group of boys from Tovu Village who were diving for fish and sea delicacies when the boat lost its captain during very rough seas,” Naulusala said.

“He swam after the boat because it belonged to another villager but couldn’t get near it.

“When he knew he couldn’t reach the boat, Doc decided to swim back but the strong winds and currents carried him to Dravuwalu Village.

He said Dr Naituku had a real passion for singing and joined the “Voqa ni Ua kei Davetatabu” group when he was transferred by the Ministry of Health to Cicia Island.

Naulusala said the group recorded its first album in the ’80s with some boys from Cicia and Dr Naituku performed with them until he was transferred to Nayavu Hospital in Wainibuka.

“When he came to Nayavu, he asked me and another musician called Waisake Saqanivalu if we could form a group. “We both agreed and Cabebula was born.

“Doc composed all our songs and we recorded our second album at South Pacific Recordings.”

Naulusala said they gained a lot of new fans and were invited to perform in villages around the Wainibuka district and across Viti Levu.

“We performed mostly at birthday parties, weddings and some functions in the villages we were invited to.

“During our time, another sigidrigi band that was popular in our area was called the ‘Miramira kei Nakoilava’ and both sigidrigi bands used to serenade at all the functions in the Wainibuka and Ra districts.”

After the 2000 coup, Dr Naituku and Saqanivalu passed away, leaving him as the sole survivor of Cabebula.

“When they passed away, I thought of hanging up my guitar because most of the time when I serenaded in the village the memories of us singing together always came back and made me think of them.”

Naulusala said he missed performing with his compatriots because they had a rapport that was sadly amiss in the crop of musicians presently on the scene.

“Playing music those days, compared with how things are done today is very much different.

“Before, the sigidrigi bands played lively music and everybody would join in and sing during grog sessions.

“People could not help it, they would play air guitar or use a sasa broom or stick and join in, especially when everybody was full doped with grog.”

He said the computer programs that many engineers and producers used today, sounded good in the studio or over the radio.

“But when it comes to live performance, it’s a different story altogether.”

His advice to young aspiring singers and musicians is “have a go, singing is a good thing because it can take you to places you haven’t been before and it can be a source of income for your family”.

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