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The Dreaded Degei -- The tour guides like to point out that Viseisei village between Nadi and Lautoka is where the great canoe Kaunitoni came out of the west and deposited the first Fijians some 3,000 years ago. From there, the legend goes, they dispersed all over the islands. The yarn is helped by the local district name Vuda, which means "our origin" in Fijian, and Viseisei, which means "to scatter."

Although it's clear today that the Fijians did indeed migrate from the west, no one knows for sure whether they landed first at Viseisei, for like all Pacific islanders, the Fijians had no written language until the missionaries arrived in the mid-19th century.

The most common oral legend has the great chiefs Lutunasobasoba and Degei arriving in the Kaunitoni on the northwest coast of Viti Levu. From there they moved inland along the Nakauvadra Range in Northern Viti Levu. Lutunasobasoba died on this trip, but Degei lived on to become a combination man, ancestor, and spirit -- and an angry spirit at that, for he is blamed for causing wars and a great flood that washed the Fijians to all parts of the islands.

The dreaded Degei supposedly still inhabits a mysterious cave in the mountains above Rakiraki, but no one is about to go in there to find out.

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