This blog is written by WCS’s Community Engagement Officer, Sirilo Dulunaqio in memory of Bu Jo.
“You see me now as a conservation champion but you should have seen me back in days when I was the go-to man for resource use,”Josaia Moceinasavu told me once as he laughed heartily.
A man of great humour, he also shared about the time he sold sand secretly to a developer but then his elders surprised him by choosing him to join the resource conservation team in the village.
Whenever we sat down to chat after our formal meetings on the Vatu-i-Ra Conservation Park, we would reminisce on his stories, and as candid anecdotes were recounted, he would throw in messages of conservation.
Known fondly as Bu Jo, the former spokesperson of the Ra Provincial Office (Mata ni Vanua ni Yasana), will always be remembered for his powerful will and determination to make positive changes, and especially when it came to safeguard the environment.
In his versatile roles as a father, grandfather, great grandfather, loving family man, farmer, village warrior, lay preacher, storyteller, boat master, talented fisherman, spokesperson, a true warrior of the Vanua Nakorotubu, conservation advocate and a mentor, Bu Jo is best described as a humble gentle giant.
As a fisherman and a boat master, Bu Jo strongly displayed his passion for conservation and had even named his boat “Qio Ni Toba” meaning “shark of the bay”.
His love for the ocean went far beyond fishing. Whenever he was out in the sea, he would call out to other fishers and remind them to not to overfish.
Hailing from the village of Navuniivi, in the District of Nakorotubu in the Province Ra, Bu Jo spent a lot of his time working with the team from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) on resource protection and management within his vicinity.
I had my closest encounters with Bu Jo when he was a member of the Vatu-i-Ra Conservation Park management committee.
In negotiating and helping set up the conservation efforts of the Park, I learnt that Bu Jo was a man of his words and he only spoke what was right and could work best for both, his people of Nakorotubu District and his Vanua, the Province of Ra.
Normally, around this time of the year, I would be working with Bu Jo and his colleagues on the Vatu-i-Ra students’ education grant.
However, due to the global coronavirus disease pandemic we were instead locked in our homes for days and could not meet. It was at this time when we received the sad news of Bu Jo’s passing on Friday, 3rd of April 2020.
While we are deeply saddened to bid farewell to Bu Jo, we are grateful to have worked with him and will always cherish his contributions in helping protect Fiji’s natural resource.