On Fijians and Chiefs: Some Thoughts to Ponder
|Former Vice-President, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi|
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]