On Fijians and Chiefs: Some Thoughts to Ponder

Former Vice-President, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi
Fijians have a strong sense of identity. They pride themselves on knowing who they are and where they come from. Urbanization has eroded these sentiments only slightly. In recent times it has become tinged with some sense of bewilderment and confusion. The emergence of disparate interests and discordant voices appears very troubling. There is no shortage of speculation about the possible causes. It is attributed to indiscipline, disloyalty, defiance of authority, arrogance and opportunism.  It is very easy to forget that these islands were a collection of warring and contending vanua, or chiefdoms, prior to 1874.

Much has been said about the Fijian traditional system and the regard Fijians have for their chiefs. There is a lot said and written about the authority exercised by those leaders. When one peers beneath the surface, however, there have been profound changes and more are in store.
Among themselves, Fijians tend to adopt a more ambivalent view, which they will not necessarily share openly. It generates a sense of disloyalty to be looking askance at their own. However, there is increasing recognition that any leader, be they chief or commoner, needs to have some education and means. Because that is the measure by which success and standing are reckoned in contemporary society. It is no longer sufficient just to have the right blood lines.  It is an issue of credibility.  The focus on interethnic relations has often disguised the erosion of chiefly authority and the more questioning attitude of Fijians. These developments are being played out, even as national issues are debated and considered.

From "Goverance in Fiji: The Interplay Between Indigenous Tradition, Culture and Politics" pages 39-40 in A Personal Perspective, the speeches of Joni Madraiwiwi, 2008. Compiled and edited by Wendy Tubman, IPS Publications, USP, Suva.

[I thought this passage relevant to an understanding of Ro Teimumu's letter and my comments. Its publication does not mean Ratu Joni agrees with either of us  though I suspect his views will be closer to Ro Teimumu's, while courteously respecting mine.  Croz]


Deceit and Innuendo said…
it would appear that like Davis, deceit and innuendo are becoming your MO? Signs of desperation?
Enough to drive one to drink! said…
@ Deceit and innuendo.....

Worse than this, we are become a Bunch of Suckers! It is no surprise at all that a 49% increase in complaints against the Police has been recorded. The real surprise is that any complaints have been recorded at all! The Police who are paid solely out of taxation to serve the public (they have absolutely no other raison d'etre)are still running renegade and offering the same old lame excuses as those proferred under the Qarase Governments: "No transport" - with the elaboration now on offer that "Transport grounded".

Oh yes? Since when did the Fiji Police have access to airborne transportation? Helicopters with searchlights mounted beneath? So useful in inundations and there is more bad weather forecast for the weekend. Rain to be precise.

The lame old excuses will no longer wash. The absence of proper and full reporting, owning the complaint and the investigation, adhering to your Code of Conduct: "SALUS POPULI" (Suprema est lex - oh really?). Marcus Tullius Cicero must be turning in his grave along with all those wishful thinkers who imposed such a ridiculous motto.

It is enough to drive one to drink! Single Malt.....None of that Blue Label rubbish purchased or donated by The Questionable.
Paula said…
I do not want to speculate where Ratu Joni stands in relation to Ro Teimumu's letter as he is most certainly eloquent enough to express his views if and when he feels that this is appropriate. My own view on the matter is that we are in a major transition indeed, a transition that has the potential to result in two outcomes. Either we will be able to integrate Fijian culture and tradition with the requirements of a modern and equitable society or we will cement military rule and see the sun setting on our identity. I lean towards attempting the former, however difficult it may be. The latter prospect fills me a deep sadness as I will and cannot return to such a system that has taken root in a place I still call home. As an exile, I have at least the right to an identity, the right of expression and the right to live up to my potential.

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