Mara: Who’s Calling Who Mad?
|"I see him there on his tall white horse"|
The latest press release from Ratu Tevita Mara must be seen as more embarrassing than usual by his more educated supporters. It certainly outdoes his previous releases for wild adjectives, hyperbole and the misrepresentation of events.
There is almost a Shakespearean quality about the release. I think of Banjuo’s soliloquy “Out, out damned spot” after he murdered Macbeth***, and Churchill’s “We will fight them on the beachheads … we will never surrender” speech. I picture Ratu Mara practising in front of his mirror.The release focuses on the collapse of the Gaddafi’s regime in Libya, drawing supposedly obvious parallels with Fiji and the kerfuffle over the Methodist Church. It concludes with a call to join the “Viti Revolutionary Forces (VRF).” Here are some extracts:
“Together, like the brave and valiant people of Libya, we will remove, in the very near future, the tyrant Bainimarama and his evil, corrupt and brutal regime. And together, we will rebuild Fiji … They will no longer ‘turn the other cheek!’”
I see him there on his tall white horse leading the virtuous into battle, and, victorious, receiving the accolades of the hoi polloi as he picks up his father’s mantle.
He goes on to praise the Rev Koroi who “defied the military goons that were sent to take him to the RFMF Headquarters for a beating by the tyrant Bainimarama."
In fact, a car had been sent for him to join the other Methodist leaders who were meeting with Government at the Barracks. And none of those who attended were beaten.
“This venerable soldier of God prevailed over the tyrant Bainimarama. It was also a victory for democracy. The Dictator Bainimarama and his conman Khaiyum, cancelled the Methodist Conference because the three top Church officials refused to bow down to the military junta. The officials won a victory for democracy.”
At least two of the officials supported the 2000 Speight coup that deposed the democratically-elected government of Mahendra Chaudhry, and went on to support the racist legislation of the Qarase government.
He says the Methodist leaders
“were seized by the RFMF and taken to military HQ. I do not know what transpired but I do believe that their dedication to God and to his Ministry was stronger than Bainimarama, his hooligans and their guns. This was another victory for democracy.”
They were not seized and it was no victory for democracy to have such an influential religious body used for political ends, ends that entrench the power and influence of chiefly elites like Ratu Mara. It would have been a victory for democracy had the church leadership changed its stance and supported the far more democratic and multi-racial aims of the People’s Charter, that it opposed from the beginning, not on moral but on political grounds.
Ratu Mara then spoke directly to people living in Fiji:
“People of Fiji, the Viti Revolutionary Forces (VRF) have also started their campaign to remove the illegal military junta and to return freedom, democracy and the rule of law to Fiji. Lend your support.
Stand up and denounce the oppressive and illegal military junta led by the murdering power mad Bainimarama and Khaiyum. Support the Methodist church. Start civil resistance now. Go on leave, distribute confidential documents and ignore orders or lend your support however you can. Satyagraha!
The mad Bainimarama and villainous Khaiyum are “old hat ” but the Viti Revolutionary Forces is new one. Does it really exist? Where is it based? What is its support? And who it its Commander-in-Chief? When is he going to call on NATO forces to oust the dictator?
If only Ratu Mara made less dramatic releases. Calmly worded accounts, with fewer condemnatory adjectives and less hyperbole, would have far more impact, at least among educated Fijians, especially if they were supported by facts — or at least a more balanced interpretation of events.
*** A reader corrects me, correctly. It's a long time since I read Macbeth and acted Banquo's ghost in a school play. The words quoted were Lady Macbeth's and Macbeth killed Banquo.