History of the Cibi

Kiwis have the Haka, Tongans have the Sipi Tau and Samoan have the Manu Siva Tau but what about the Fijians?

Fiji is a true Pacific Island nation and they do too have their own traditional war dance that they perform before international sporting occasions. The Fijian war dance is called the Cibi. It’s an incredible tradition to watch and of course you’ll be able to observe the local guys and girls performing during the Fijian Cup. Perhaps you’ll even try it for yourself? They’re always keen to share culture with our guests.

So what is the Cibi, what does it signify and what is its history? Let’s break it down!
Cibi the Meke
Meke is the Fijian work for dance; first and foremost the Cibi is a dance. Traditionally men and women do not perform mekes together, rather sticking with their fellow sex and performing dances with different cultural significance.

Traditionally the Cibi was performed before and after battle. The Fijian Rugby Union team are the most famous group of players to still use this war dance in the modern day. The Cibi performed by the Fijian rugby team is also known as the Teivovo.

The tradition of the Cibi dates back to Fiji’s war torn past, when they battled their neighbouring Pacific nations in tribal warfare. When they returned from battle they would boast their victory by raising flags; one flag for every enemy killed in battle.

On their return to their tribes the warriors would be met by the women of the tribe who would sing victory songs along with dances.

The Cibi was used as a pre-battle scare tactic but it was most significantly used as a celebration of victory once the warriors returned home.

Cibi translates from Fijian to mean ‘a celebration of victory by warriors’.

Modern Cibi
Back in 1939 when the Fijian rugby team was preparing for their inaugural tour of New Zealand leader Ratu Sir George Cakobau thought that the team should have a warrior dance to match the All Blacks famous Haka.

Ratu Sir George contacted the high chief of the Navusaradave warrior clan in Bau to asked him to teach the team the Cibi. Since that day the Cibi has been the pre-match ritual for the Fijian rugby team.

The Cibi is said to be a lucky omen for the Fijian team went unbeaten by the All Blacks on their tour.

Cibi vs Bole
Both the Cibi and the Bole have been used as pre-match rituals by the Fijian rugby team.

In 2012 the decision was made to use the Bole rather than the Cibi as the Bole is ‘the acceptance of challenge’ and is a rousing war cry. Many believed that this was a more fitting precursor to the sporting battle that was about to commence.

Use of the Bole in international rugby was short lived however as after the 2012 Pacific Nations Rugby Cup the team decided to go back to its roots and stick with the Cibi.

Learning the Cibi
You’ll have plenty of opportunity to chat with the local guys and girls and try your hand at the Cibi, if you’re tough enough that is!

Here is the war cry for you to start learning now!

(Leader)Vaka rau! Cibi!
Ai tei vovo, tei vovo
E ya, e ya, e ya, e ya;
Tei vovo, tei vovo
E ya, e ya, e ya, e ya
Rai tu mai, rai tu mai
Oi au a virviri kemu bai
Rai tu mai, rai tu mai
Oi au a virviri kemu bai
Toa yalewa, toa yalewa
Veico, veico, veico
Au tabu moce koi au
Au moce ga ki domo ni biau
E luvu koto ki ra nomu waqa
O kaya beka au sa luvu sara
Nomu bai e wa mere
Au tokia ga ka tasere
Tuletule buka sa dredre
Tuletule buka sa dredre
Tou vaka tosoya
Vaka malua.
E ya, e ya, e ya, e ya

Get ready! Cibi! (War dance of celebration)
The war-fence, the war-fence,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, (spoken like warning in a cry before war)
The war-fence, the war-fence
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Look here, look here,
I attack your defences,
Look here, look here,
I attack your defences
A rooster and a hen,
They attack, attack, attack
It is forbidden for me to slumber
Except to the sound of breaking waves
Your ship lies sunken below,
You say I may have drowned.
Your fence is just made of creepers
I peck at it, and it comes undone.
I turn the tree to uproot it,
It is difficult but it is there.
The tree is out of the ground
Slowly, we are able to move it.
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!

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