How Bananas Came to Fiji

Have you ever wondered how bananas came to Fiji? Then you are in the right place today. The legend comes to us from the book, Myths and Legends of Fiji and Rotuma,  by A.W. Reed and Inez Hames. Enjoy the story!

How Bananas Came to Fiji

There was once a little girl who lived with her mother in a lonely house on top of a hill, far away from any village. The hilltop was in Tailevu, on the eastern side of Viti Levu.

The mother was a selfish woman. She did not want her daughter to see other people, but preferred to keep her to herself. So the years passed by and the girl grew into a beautiful young woman. The mother was now more than ever determined to keep her away from the sight of others, and especially from young men who might desire her for themselves.

The girl reached an age when she longed to see other places and people. She wondered what the rest of the world was like, but all that she could see were a few hills and trees, and the empty sky above them.

One day her mother went off to get fish. As she picked up her net and basket the girl said, “Please, mother, may I go for a little walk outside while you’re away?”

“Oh, very well,” the mother replied, “but mind you are back before sunset.”

The mother went down the hill to the seashore. Her daughter wandered about, looking at the trees and flowers, and lost all sense of time. She climbed a hill and, feeling rather tired, sat down to rest. She had forgotten that she must be back by sunset, and was overtaken by darkness.

Suddenly a young man appeared before her.

“Who are you?” he asked. “Where do you live?”

“Sit down,” the girl said laughingly, “and I’ll tell you.”

How Bananas Came to Fiji(Fiji)

“How Bananas Came to Fiji,” illustration by Tara Bonvillain, copyright 2023.

They sat together on the hilltop and talked about many things. The time passed so quickly for them both that before they knew where they were, they heard a cock crowing in the distance. The girl jumped to her feet, and the young man stood up. He held out his hand in farewell. As she took it in hers, he vanished, leaving his hand and forearm in her grasp.

She stood for a while, lost in thought, and then walked back to her home and her mother. She related what had happened to her, and later in the day she planted the hand and arm in a patch of earth outside the house.

A few days later a shoot appeared above the ground. It grew quickly, and some months later a large reddish brown bud appeared; it was followed by small fruit, which grew into a great bunch, shaped like fingers of a hand. They were bananas.

And that is how bananas came to Fiji.

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