Rexford Orotaloa: Two Times Resurrection
This novel is probably autobiographical. It is set on an artificial island, like Orotaloa’s home island of Suraina. The main character is called Toga but his father tells him that his real name is Orotaloa, which means power which overcomes other powers. And, at the very end, Toga tells us that he is going to write a book about his life to date called Two Times Resurrection. Toga lives on the fictitious island of Sāno, an artificial island. He is descended from a fierce warrior chief. As a child he has yaws but his grandmother is able to cure him. One of the things we note early on is the importance of food in his life and the life of the island. The boys always seem to be on the lookout for food and are generally able to get it for free.
Toga does well at school and is eventually able to get a place at a missionary school on another island. Unfortunately, he is short-sighted and it is not easy to get hold of spectacles, so he is unable to see the blackboard and does not do so well at school. He is determined to get some spectacles, which cost money, so he sets out for Honiara, where his cousin lives, in order to work to earn some money. His first cultural shock is realising that you actually have to pay for food. He is unfamiliar with the idea of a cash economy, at least a far as food is concerned, and his cousin has to educate him. Eventually he goes off to a plantation to get work. Initially he stays with Heli, another relative but when he starts work, he is hit by a falling coconut tree. When he recovers he attends a school near his cousin but wants to go back to his previous school. With the bit of money he got for his work, he goes to a hospital in order to buy spectacles. He is tested and the spectacles are ordered from Australia.
While waiting for the spectacles to arrive, he returns home. The spectacles finally arrive but it is now late in the school year and the teachers feel that he is far behind. However by dint of hard work and continually bothering the other pupils to assist him, he catches up and does very well. He manages to progress first to the Avai school but it is too expensive for him so he then goes to a government school. However, a girl teases him and he kicks her, so he is thrown out. He manages to find another school but is thrown out of that school, as he had stayed out to long, primarily to see the film Tarzan. So it is back to the Avai school and then on to the Aro secondary school, where he does well. Finally, he goes home and finds that his island has changed. It is no longer the free and easy place it once was but has, too, become a cash economy. But he will write his book – Two Times Resurrection.
This is a charming story of a young Solomon Islander, determined to get an education. He has little help from his parents – his father, in particular does not see the point – and, as we have seen, he himself has character flaws, namely a certain irresponsibility and a fierce pride inherited from his famous ancestor. But he is clearly intelligent as he generally does well in class and exams and, presumably also inherited from his ancestor, has a determination to succeed, despite the odds against him.
First published 1985 by the University of the South Pacific Solomon Islands Centre