A tribute to Adi Litia Samanunu Cakobau-Talakuli – Our sweet Princess

My family and friends who knew my connection with an amazing woman who I was privileged to have as my boss in KL have been calling to offer condolences as she sadly passed away last week. It was naturally a shock to hear the news as I always felt she was always going to be around and I will see her again during my trips to Fiji.

Like my gorgeous friend Bernadette, also a parliamentarian, I loved the positive energy of Adi who was an amazing leader for all of us working at the Fiji High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.

Adi was a highly respected Fijian chief, politician, and diplomat. She was the eldest child of Ratu Sir George Cakobau, the late Vunivalu of Bau and Governor General of Fiji. She was Minister for Fijian Affairs and was considered as a candidate for the Vice-Presidency in 1997 but she became Fiji’s High Commissioner to Malaysia where I was one of her staff and Ambassador to Thailand and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific thereafter.

Adi was appointed to the Fijian Senate as one of nine nominees of the Fijian government and to the Cabinet as a Minister without portfolio. As the eldest child of the last Vunivalu of Bau, she was considered the senior-most chief of the Kubuna Confederacy.

Despite her Chiefly position, Adi was a kind, caring, gentle down to earth Princess who acted as a guide to young Fijians like us. She was an understanding boss and encouraged me to focus on my Masters Thesis after work every day without fail as we left the office.

As a young student in Kuala Lumpur, Adi was like a mother to me and to 3 other Fijian students in Kuala Lumpur. I enjoyed spending time with her both at the office and in the evenings when we had social engagements for the High Commission.

We never felt homesick as she, like all the other Fijian Ambassadors and High Commissioners before, made sure we always had a room in her house to stay over when we had official functions and personally cooked meals for me if I ever dropped in to visit her. She loved singing with us when the rugby players came to KL for the Cobra 7s, when we celebrated Fiji Day and generally anytime we had guests from Fiji.

Adi was a beautiful Princess, in her looks and in her heart. Most people who met her always mentioned to me afterwards how wonderful and regal she was without knowing that she was indeed a royalty in Fiji.

She was my first role model and if I am calm and collected today during the most difficult situations, it is because she taught me to be a lady. She brought people together and I remember how supportive she was when I was coming to Dubai and had to leave my siblings in KL to complete their degrees. She was my pillar of strength as I felt there was someone my siblings could turn to in my absence.

I wish I was in Fiji the last few days to pay my last respects to a woman who was my first female boss, my guardian during my student days, my role model and a caring mother figure when I needed to speak to someone during my time in Kuala Lumpur. We will forever remember Adi’s kindness and her guidance to all of us.

May her beautiful soul rest in peace.

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