Excerpt: Kava in the Blood

[K]ava is a drink which has as its essence the ritual of sharing fellowship with other humans. This is no brew for pouring into a martini glass and moping over in a lonely bar. It would be aberrant behaviour indeed for you to mix some kava and drink it by yourself, for the preparation and serving of kava is a process of social interaction, of story-telling, of shared laughter, of a communal solemnity, of inclusion and of understanding…

There is a Fijian expression ‘Maca na wai, ka boko na buka‘ which translates directly as ‘the water has gone and the fire is out’. It means ‘we’re out of kava and tobacco’. What makes this expression so full of pathos is that the dearth of kava implies no gathering together around the tanoa to listen to the stories which, through their humour, irony and ritual, serve the social values of sharing and togetherness which bring harmony to the community.

Peter Thomson, Kava in the Blood

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