Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Historial Event at My School RKS

Historical Event to Happen Tomorrow at RKS
Mar 1, 2007

Ratu Kadavulevu School old scholars and students are looking forward to a historical event in their school tomorrow when they will present a traditional apology to the landowners of the site where the school is built.

Principal Joji Tabua has confirmed that the "matanigasau" will be presented to the landowners asking forgiveness for the way in which their land was taken from them to construct the school.

Tabua said that Interim Education Minister Netani Sukanaivalu will also be present to witness the event which they believe will bring good fortune to the school.

It has been highlighted that RKS students have been facing a lot of problems in the past years, academically and in sports, and they hope tomorrow's event will be able to solve their problem.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Cakaudrove Provincial Scholarship Fund

Making the most of the fine weather

By Sitiveni Rabuka
Fiji Times - Sunday, February 25, 2007
Ni sa Bula! It is Saturday and a great day here in Savusavu and the whole of Vanua Levu.
People are out making the best of the fine day out here.
Men looking over their plantations to see if the standing crop will survive the effects of the heavy rains and strong winds of the past fortnight, or whether they will have to be uprooted for the usable to be used and the damaged, cleared for new ones to be planted.
The Soqosoqo Vakamarama of Cakaudrove had a soli day at the Cakaudrove Provincial Compound at Yaroi yesterday to collect money as the women's contribution towards the Province's Scholarship fund.
A few tikina sent in their request to be excused as they tried to clear the debris of the flash floods (I don't know why we call them flash floods we knew they were going to come when we blocked the natural waterways by cutting trees, building roads and houses where water used to run etc.!) that damaged houses and villages in parts of Vaturova, Tawake and Saqani.
Undeterred by the decision of those in the villages, those women from Vaturova and Tawake on the good roads side of the damaged road came along, and the Turaga ni Vanua of Saqani also left behind those that needed to work and brought the rest of the women to the soli because his daughter in law is of the Ai Sokula household and he did not want to embarrass her when the ladies of the Ai Sokula called for the soli, that his daughter-in-law would be seen to be disrespectful to her Naus by not coming to the soli.
It was a beautiful day and the women came in their different coloured muumuus and jabas and the few Turaga ni Vanua that came sat and drank yaqona in support of their ladies at the Vakatunuloa.
The singing was beautiful and weather great perhaps made greater by the company and the fact that we had just come out of a bad rainy and windy spell here in Vanua Levu.
The passersby might have wondered why so many ladies and some men spent so much time most of the day, sitting, singing and some drinking yaqona.
I told those few men I was with that the Cakaudrove Provincial Scholarship fund is for the good of Fiji not just the recipients, their families or Cakaudrove.
When I was in Secondary School at Queen Victoria School, all boys from Cakaudrove received $27 which was the fees for one term at that school at that time. The fee for the whole year was $81 probably the highest of all the schools of that era.
Cakaudrove students at Queen Victoria School, Ratu Kadavulevu School, Adi Cakobau School and Navuso Agricultural School were the original beneficiaries of the provincial scholarship, and those that went to Ballantine Memorial School, and Lelean Memorial School later also qualified for the scholarship.
I said Fiji benefited because the sons and daughters of Cakaudrove that were helped through their secondary school education by the scholarship later became great servants of Fiji, some distinguishing themselves alongside the distinguished sons and daughters of the other provinces and Rotuma and the other races capable of holding their own among the elite of our nation.
Those a few years ahead of me and those of my age group whom I can remember include my generation of the Lalabalavu, Ganilau, Kubuabola, Lesuma children, Ratu Inoke Vakataraisulu Tabualevu a great rugby and cricketing son of Cakaudrove, the late Ratu Jone Filipe Radrodro, a long time permanent secretary in the civil service of our country, Sekonaia Tui Mailekai, a long time head of the former Inland Revenue Department and founding head of the new Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority and his wife Ulamila, Doctor Laisa Naivalulevu, a former national table tennis gold medalist, the late Deputy Commissioner of Police Aseri Tagicakiverata, the ever-so-humble late Savenaca Siwatibau, the Gonelevu brothers Vili and Tomasi of Vanuavou, Vaturova, former senator Ratu Seru Buliruarua, the recently dismissed CEO's Sakiusa Rabuka and Anasa Vocea of Drekeniwai, Navatu, our own Roko Tui Cakaudrove, Waisele Wainiqolo of Korocau, Cakaudrove, who also served as Roko Tui in Namosi and Ba before coming to serve in his own Province, and I will also mention my two sisters one recently retired as a long time Head Teacher at Namaka, Nadi and the other still at the Institute of Applied Sciences in the Laucala Campus of USP.
We all owe so much to those leaders of our vanua who introduced the scholarship.
So to those who might have wondered why we spent so much time at Yaroi on Friday, I can say we were sacrificing one day to raise money for our provincial scholarship that will fund the further education of our sons and daughters to better prepare them to be servants of our country.
My sincere thanks to the two ladies of the Ai Sokula household who came to our villages at the behest of our Paramount Chief, Na Turaga Bale na Tui Cakau, to inspire our women to take up this great challenge and help our province support our children to help Fiji.
Vinaka Di Mitimiti, vinaka Di Kavu.
And it was great to see my wife among so many ladies from all the other thirteen provinces and Rotuma the "marama vakawati mai" supporting their adopting province.
Perhaps the Cakaudrove Scholarship is just as much a national investment as a provincial one.
Vinaka Vakalevu.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The GCC and its Place

The GCCs lost aura

ROBERT MATAU - Friday, February 23, 2007

The ever assuring voice of the Great Council of Chiefs has helped shape Fiji into what it is today. Without this august body we would not have modernisation in its present form, nor would we have adopted the Western concepts of governance and democracy.

In the absence of their voice through their current stand-off with the military, we take a look at the GCCs history and the consequences that shaped this institution up until recent times, in this three-part series.

SINCE that first shot was fired on May 14, 1987 in Fijis unknowing parliament, the fluidity of Fijian politics has never recovered from the so called coup culture.

It has become the main catalyst to legitimise the overthrow of any tyranny of democracy in Fijian politics.

Caught in this vice-like grip is the Great Council of Chiefs, the last bastion of the Fijian race. For many years Fiji has looked up to the Great Council of Chiefs for answers to a wide range of its problems in its darkest hours.

And many times they have bailed out a nation on the brink of collapse with their wisdom and aura.

That is why it has been revered and tagged with the label, august institution. However, the 2006 coup and the leadership problems that continue to plague Fiji, have given fuel to the growing number of critics who are losing confidence in this institution.

The continuous silence on the part of the chiefs has also fuelled rumours that the GCC may have been too politicised, and, that what the public now hears is only the voice of the institution called the GCC making decisions but without the full mandate of all chiefs.

This school of thought is also bold enough to claim that the GCCs aura and manna have been lost.

Interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimaramas public swipe at the GCC, though considered harsh by many, has also given fuel to that same school of thought.

The erosion of chiefly rule, stemming from the 1987 coup, was sensed and opposed strongly by the late Josevata Kamikamica.

He said the chiefly body should be apoliticial, with reference to the Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei Party the first political party to receive the backing of the chiefly body.

Mr Bainimaramas slating the GCC was blasphemy in the eyes of any Fijian. But could it be that he knew certain truths within the roots of all things chiefly that gave him the ammunition to conduct the so called clean up campaign, starting with the GCC?

In the absence of the chiefly voice maybe it is an opportune time to review the roles of this institution, its origins and what its initial functions were.

To do this we have to go back into history to fully understand the initial establishment and purpose of the GCC. The Great Council of Chiefs was a brainchild of William Pritchard, the British Consulate who initiated the first ever general meeting of chiefs in Levuka on December 14, 1859 to pave the way for the cessation process of Fiji to the British Crown. Like the 1997 Constitution, the old Matanitu could understand what its true purpose and benefits were.

Their ignorance of understanding the issues was interpreted by the Colonialists as a major threat to their chosen leading chiefs led by Ratu Seru Cakobau the then Vunivalu of what was to be regarded by many, as the leading military and naval power in Fiji, supported by white historians.

He was under threat from the Americans to pay up the debts for the burning of the US Counsels residence in Nukulau on July 4, 1846, which plagued Cakobau for the next 20 years. Pressed from all corners to avoid the same fate that Veidovi of Rewa in 1840 faced for his crimes against visiting American ships when he was shipped out of Fiji in chains by Commodore Wilkes to America to answer for his crimes, Cakobau needed a way out.

At the same time, Cakobau, who became fascinated by the Hawaiian monarchial system through his secretary Samuel A St.John, assumed the title Tui Viti. He was sending out the message that he held absolute power throughout the divided yet pocket and strongly entrenched matanitu that made up Fiji.

Each matanitu operated under a sophisticated and civilised system of its own chiefdoms your chief did not recognise the other, hence the adage manu dui tagi (you only rule in your own land) common to the chiefs of Kadavu. Even more true to this debate were the Colo states that now come under Naitasiri.

Each small state had their own chief and there was no recognised paramount chief in their eyes.

The opportunity to consolidate his position through the first of many coups (with the overthrow of the principle chief of Bau the Roko Tui Bau) during his own lifetime and his continued skirmishes, armoured with muskets and fierce warriors was a war itself against the ancient Fijian chiefly hierarchy. A hierarchy that had stood the test of time over 15 generations before his time.

In the eyes of the old matanitu or old guard if you may, the uprising Bau matanitu was a junior state yet it had the gall to challenge the old ways.

To achieve his goals, Cakobau subjected the seniority of many other matanitu and gave prominence to the lesser matanitu that gave him their support forming the provinces to be their leader. Many of these old matanitu were at war with the emerging power for a long time including that of Rewa, Verata and Lau under the Tongan prince Enele Maafu.

(Next we look at the assessment of the British advance party to check Ratu Serus claims as Tui Viti)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Vanua is Not Alienable

Interim government is on the right path to the future -14-Feb-2007

THE return of 86 acres of ancestral lands to the Raviravi people of Vugalei, Tailevu, is a welcome sign of greater things to come from the Interim government, we would hope. There is much restitution to be done for Fijian landowning units who have suffered the alienation of traditional vanua as a result of past chiefly deals, dubious conquests, bureaucratic confusion, contested claims, and past government inaction.

The indigenous people of our islands deserve to have all of the books of dispossession thrown open for reassessment. The issue of how some of Fiji became ‘freehold property’ needs to be reconsidered in the light of global trends to revalue the worth of indigenous peoples and to re-assign their heritage to them. ‘Freehold’ is a Western and European conception of the relationship between humans and their physical environs; it has no root or principle in the indigenous Pacific. It has no history or legitimacy here beyond that of an introduced ideology that came with gunboat diplomacy and Christian mission cooperation.

The idea of the vanua as a permanently tradeable resource is simply and unalterably opposed to historic ancestral notions of what the Fijian is as a person, and what their heritage is, as a God-given resource. The Western and European idea of ‘land-use it or lose it’ is anathema to the indigenous mindset – not just in Fiji, but all over the world.

No Fijian saw their vanua as something to be traded – it may be won by conquest for a generation or so, but it could never be traded simply because it was never conceived of as something alienable. That idea had to be planted in the mind of a chief – as it was. And once planted, we know what happened: tracts were traded and thereby alienated in the interest of cementing alliances, paying debts, seeking advantages, or punishing enemies.

To make the trade in land stick, another idea had to be planted and take root too. That was the idea of ‘the state’. The state became the judge and jury of what was to be traded and what wasn’t. Deals between parties were no longer private affairs, but had to go through the examination and adjudication processes of ‘the state’. In colonial times, the state was the colonising power, the government or more specifically, the governor of the day. So a promised deal – a land trade - that no Fijian had any interest in honouring beyond meeting the satisfaction of their own purposes or their own lifetime, took on a permanence through the instrument of the state.

The state became the trans-generational source of creating, defining and sustaining ‘freehold’. by recourse to ‘law’ and specifically ‘property law’. By this invention, the Fijian relationship to their vanua was codified and rendered transcendent – the law no longer emanated from a shared oral tradition reinforced by the club, but now stood over and above them. The law took on a mystical power because it was unreadable and therefore not understandable by the predominantly illiterate Fijian people. It was no longer a collective consensus, but the domain of an elite of experts who held their authority at the behest of the state.

The meaning of ‘freehold’ became a new orthodoxy with its own sacred power, and ‘the law’, ‘the state’ and ‘freehold’ became a sacred ideological triangle that ensured Fiji would never be the same again. Ultimately this set of alien ideas and their corresponding institutions were reinforced by ‘it goes without saying’. In other words: don’t question what has been done to Fiji and its ancient culture for to do so is to upset too many apple-carts (as it were).

The fact is history is only as sacred as we suppose it to be. But whose history? The history of indigenous values or the history of introduced ones? There is no sure answer to this, but in relation to the vanua, the response of the interim government in honouring the claim of the Raviravi is a worthy signal that it values the history of the older (and prior) over the younger – especially where that priority can be honoured without cost to those who have gained through the subversion of that order. We applaud this move.