I am sure that seen from the stars at night, Fiji is very noisy and full of chatter. Which is very good. Many of us need enlightening about the true situation in Fiji. There are so many factors to consider and so many causes of many many things and it is easy to get so bogged down in the whys and what fors.
Sometimes it is easier to just concentrate on one thing at a time. Sometimes it is easier to see our way through the quagmire with snippets of clarity. Thats what we will endeavor to do in this forum.
There are many theories of why Bai and cronies carried out the coup. And we can talk about this until the cows come home, and of the principles that this has violated.
However it is important to also consider that as we are propelled into the modern-era, the pressures of this era coming up against the older stresses and expectations of all that is inherent in our heritage of cultural values and tradition are clashing and splintering and are threatening the very basis of our identity and direction as a people. Perhaps as an identity, the i-Taukei are on the path to implosion ?
This coup did not help, in fact it probably showed up one of the most major consequences of the fracturing of the intrinsic in the Fijian cultural and traditional value system, and exposed what was volatile and vulnerable about it (ie. the opposing forces that have led to the disrespect and abuse of authority and the vanua in general),
Cruising the cyber highway the other day, I came across the following exchange of thoughts in response to a Fiji Times forum question from a blogger called 'Freedom for Other" - this correspondent was able to very expertly, and very succinctly place this aspect of Fijian life into perspective for a lot of people and I would like to reproduce it here. This a very complicated subject and one that has happened is a direct result of our travel down the modern highway via the corridors of cultural and traditional expectations. I believe this piece of writing is very important to understanding what makes up a Fijian and also understanding what has happened to this same Fijian in this very complicated time in our history.
SOLILOQUY BY FREEDOM OF OTHER "
.............. Truly the values of an i-taukei today must be recognised - he is traditional and culturally patriotic to a belief system that perpetuates his lifestyle and this set of practices is being challenged by many factors . Some of these are modern lifestyle, freedom, independence, right to question, money, education, employment, opportunities, the lack of good chiefly leadership and many more.
These are matters that frustrate the development of the i-taukei. Compounded by this is the autonomous lifestyle of other races and here lies the concern of many i-taukei - will the autonomy of other lifestyles reduce my tradition and culture and make me a group that quantifies my lifestyle to attain the development that I seek? This is perhaps a fear that bears on my shoulder and it cannot be reversed once I go down this track , for everything that my culture keeps collectively will be equated and quantified , leaving nothing to patronise for reasons of cultural heritage.
On the other hand to accept others into the context of Fijianship it cannot absorb itself without the "others" respecting and appreciating what it is they want and that is absorption into my values.
They have to know my values, it is not asking that they relieve their values, or include mine in theirs, but to appreciate my cultural practice.
I subscribe to a chiefly system which navigates my culture and tradition and has authority that I am submissive to and I would expect appreciation and respect of "others" in this belief and would expect a certain outreach in respecting them for what we subscribe to.
I subscribe to the Great Council Of Chiefs and my greater authority over Fiji is entrusted to them, they are a true representation of all that we hold as our sovereignty. It would necessitate the respect and appreciation of this i-taukei representation, placement and authority.
It would be seen as lacking in respect that this body of chiefs be submissive to other cultural claims on my sovereignty of Fiji.
I would at the least expect understanding of my culture and learning my language is paramount in understanding me for in my language is my lifestyle, culture, tradition and norms.
Today I face encroachment in every facet of development and modernization ; a front that we have faced for centuries and more so in the last century and through these rapid lifestyle evolutions those entrusted chiefs have kept our beliefs and lifestyle systems protected from exploitation. Our political protection was consensually held by leaders who shared our belief system and we felt comfortable with this.
We have through the years bred many self serving and greedy chiefs who represent me culturally and politically and have created divisions amongst us which has and is creating fractures in my belief system that we are in a state of confusion . The options of autonomy that are being practised by "others" are attractive but with this it may mean that many of my beliefs will be sacrificed not because it doesn't serve the system well but because the cultural gestures, allegiance and practice is becoming irrelevant to my chiefs power base - it has been replaced by power through wealth.
My many "other" brothers who are leaders of my political Fiji cannot understand my placement in the vanua and all address to it is one that fails to realign my cultural leadership, thus it places me in a vanua that has no direction and unable to harmonise with other belief systems.
There are many more factors that I can address that would make this post a bit too long.
The present status of Fijian sovereignty perhaps at this stage cannot be compounded by inclusion till our matters is sorted.
By all means take the road to understanding and learning my language and perhaps share my culture I wish you to be Fijian but first I must realign my Fijianship.
The national identity given the national crisis we have had since 1987 and that is to say this is not the end , encompasses the fraying of our tradition and culture when merged with leadership outside the ambits of traditional leaders
We have our problems of recent years land that is part of our identity, and having entrusted ourselves to an institution to manage for the betterment of all has placed us all under traditional and cultural stress which reflects and bears so much pain on our collective lifestyle ."
VINAKA to FREEDOM OF OTHER for your insight.
The army has compounded our confusion and trampled all over many facets of it's own culture and what holds us together. What happens to these guys when they eventually leave the gates of the army camp ? They will have to face the vanua and nestle back into the cultural facets that govern their lives.
Without their culture, they are nothing and nobodies.
By disrespecting the vanua and the rule of law, they have set an ugly precedent for our children.
It is also now a question of what is acceptable control and who has the right to take the controls. What gave them the right to think they could manage our betterment as a nation ?
It is safe to say that from what we have seen of their 'governance' so far is complete intolerance and impatience with due process , absolute arrogance about their superiority over others, and an unbelievable misplacement of reason and logic about the law and our constitution.
Is it right that we sit back and "accept" that representative control (what we voted for as a nation) has been forcibly taken out of our hands ?
Over to your talanoa sessions people. Good luck in your deliberations - oh and keep with the draunimoli - it is better for your head and your health than yaqona. Vinaka