Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Giving birth after heavy rain in Fiji

In the nick of time

Felix Chaudhary
Thursday, February 09, 2017
A 33-year-old woman who bravely swam across a flooded creek and was rescued by police while having contractions, is just glad she was delivered to the Lautoka Hospital "in the nick of time".
Senibuli Tikoimoala was in labour for five hours but her family could not transport her to hospital because of a flooded Irish crossing at Paipai, Lautoka.
"I started having labour pains at 5am and although I had crossed a flooded road, the current at the crossing was too strong," she shared.
"As the pain increased, family members in desperation made an emergency call to 919 and asked police to help transport me to hospital. I was worried and scared.
"When the police arrived, they couldn't bring their vehicle across the flooded creek so there was nothing else to do but swim across.
"When I was in the police car, the officers kept me in high spirits by joking. They kept saying that I had to be strong and that if I gave birth in their car, they would take it upon themselves to name the baby."
The police officers ferried Mrs Tikoimoala to an ambulance that was waiting on the Queens Rd.
"Within minutes of our arrival at the hospital, I gave birth to my beautiful and healthy 4kg baby girl.
"She is my sixth child and our family has decided to name her Vasemaca Naqiri after one of our grandmothers."
Mrs Tikoimoala resides in Tabataba, Ba, but had decided to wait out the latter stages of her pregnancy at her brother's home in Paipai.
Mother and baby are recovering well and eagerly awaiting discharge from the hospital and a warm reunion with family.
"This is one pregnancy that I will never forget because of what I went through to deliver Vasemaca.
"But I thank God for keeping me safe and I also thank police for coming to my aid."

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

A good letter to the editor

Here's a good letter to the Fiji Times this week:


Arvind Mani,Martintar, Nadi | Monday, February 6, 2017
Let's face it. We are living in a digital age, and there is absolutely no going back. One of the biggest influences on society these days in both a positive and negative way is social media. Social media was originally designed to allow people to share interesting facets of their lives with their friends, but it has become so much more. It's how information gets passed around the globe now. In many cases, people first learn about current events through the Twitter or Facebook before hearing about it from conventional news sources. 

We also have come to rely on our technological devices for nearly everything we do. People these days seem as if they can't go anywhere or do anything without their smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc. They need to be in constant contact with others via electronic devices.
But, there is also a downside to being too connected to social media and devices that deliver them. We can become too dependent on them or we can become immune to what we are doing to ourselves in our lives. All of this can have a negative effect on our lives and on society as a whole, how we are being negatively impacted as a society.
Facebook is eating away at your time.
How much time do you spend each day on Facebook or other social media sites? Is it cutting into your productivity? Do you find yourself just wasting time to the point that you don't even know where it went? If the answers are yes, I bet you're not alone.
We've become "Likeaholics."
Speaking of Facebook when you post something, are you doing it just to see how many of your friends give it the proverbial thumbs up. This illustration shows that some people are treating "Likes" on Facebook as if it was a drug they needed to have injected into their bloodstream for them to feel good about themselves. Do you have such low self-esteem that you get depressed if you do not have enough "likes"?
Our devices are ruining intimacy.
Have you and a loved one ever spent time together where both of you are on your smart phones texting, tweeting, Facebooking or surfing other websites instead of communicating with each other? Is society getting to the point where we can't even be intimate with each other without being on our phones or iPads at the same time?
Families aren't spending quality time together.
If a mother is making holiday sweets with her family, what do the kids do?
They're not making sweets with mom. Instead, the children have their faces buried in their own electronic devices.
It used to be that parents used the television to babysit their kids. Now, it's a tablet, phone, laptop or video game that does the job.
We'd rather record someone than help them.
If a man is drowning or is involved in an accident, and is reaching out for help, it is more likely that someone has an iPhone pointed at him and is recording it rather than helping save this man.
In the end, with all of this, we are still killing the planet.
Despite all of our technological gains, we are still polluting Earth to the point that we have a virtual gun pointed at mother nature.
The clueless Trump seems too dumb to realise the disastrous impact of climate change.
It is my fervent hope that he can get some common sense and listen to our prime minister instead of childishly tweeting away with reckless abandon.
As we build bigger cities and pollute more, how much damage can we continue to do without it being fatal for all of us?

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Artist living in a car at Balyang Sanctuary

Balyang Sanctuary is a lovely part of Geelong, part of the Barwon River environment and a good place for drawing. But here's a surprising story of a woman who lived in her car there and did drawings. The story ran in the Age newspaper and I've only copied part of the story.
Open Canvas puts disadvantaged artists in the frame
Next to the swaying gums and green grass of Balyang Sanctuary on Geelong's Barwon River sits a 1973 HQ Kingswood.She's seen better years – orange paint peeling, in need of a good mechanic – but somehow, she has made it through.This is Jacqui's home. She moved into her car after years spent running from abuse. It's also her studio.
It takes Jacqui about a week to complete each of her intricate, breathtaking drawings, in fine ink pen, of street scenes and parkways. She used to sell these drawings by the side of the road for $10 – "just enough to keep my car going".
But on Tuesday her work will hang on the gallery walls of fortyfivedownstairs – a stone's throw away from where rough sleepers were recently moved on from Flinders Street Station – along with works from 18 other homeless and disadvantaged artists.The exhibition has been organised by Open Canvas, a new, Melbourne-based social enterprise that offers pathways for homeless and disadvantaged artists to sell their work.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Young refugee deported too quickly

A young refugee faked a passport and flew to Fiji frm PNG and ten days later was deported back. But the story of his terrible experiences throughout his life didn't have a chance to be told in order to ask for asylum.  The police were too quick.

Sawari’s deportation concerns Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission
By Semi Turaga
Saturday 04/02/2017

The Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Director Ashwin Raj.
The Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission has expressed its disappointment after the deportation of Iranian Loghman Sawari.
Director Ashwin Raj says they are concerned that the decision made by the Immigration Department has the possibility of exposing Loghman Sawari to inhuman and degrading treatment.
Raj says it is clear that from this incident that Immigration and Police officers would benefit from training on the Refugee Convention and international human rights laws.
He also says that it is a matter of national shame that political leaders, Biman Prasad of the NFP and Fiji Labour Party’s Mahendra Chaudhry cashed into this situation for political gain by invoking fears of national security and enormous burden on the Immigration Department.

He has also called on the government to review our immigration and border control laws through the Justice, Law and Human Rights Parliamentary Standing Committee.
Raj met with the Permanent Secretary for Immigration and was informed that discussions were held between the PNG and Fijian governments on Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Sebastian sings Fijian songs

Good on you Sebastian.
from the Fiji Times:

Sebastian's passion for iTaukei songs

Felix Chaudhary
Thursday, February 02, 2017
SEBASTIAN James still vividly remembers the day he received a telephone call from vude king Seru Serevi.
The year was 1997 and he was a maths teacher at St Thomas High School in Lautoka.
That year James had released an iTaukei album titled Isa Na Luvequ.
Serevi had called to inform the then 38-year-old that he should make his way to Suva and attend the 1997 Vakalutuivoce Music Awards (now FPRA Music Awards) and perform two songs.
At first, James baulked at the request. But he was persuaded when Serevi informed him that he had to travel because he had won the Best New Artist award."He also said I had to prepare two songs to sing at the awards," the now 57-year-old shared.
"So I decided to do two songs from my album that were really popular at the time — Isa Na Luvequ and Raviravi Mai Ba."
James was nervous when he stepped out on the stage.
Here he was, a novice performer who had a very limited command of the iTaukei language, about to sing in front of the country's top composers and artistes.
"On the way to Suva, I was so excited but when I got to the Raffles Tradewinds Hotel in Lami, where the awards were being held, I was really nervous.
"When it came to go and perform, I told Seru, I was too nervous and I couldn't do it.
"He just hugged me and reassured me that I would do OK.
"And I really owe it to Seru for encouraging me because once I started singing, everything was OK.
"The reception I got from the composers, artistes and crowd was so amazing."
Isa Na Luvequ was recorded at South Pacific Recordings with the help of engineer Maleli Tora and producer George Low.
It featured eight songs composed by legendary iTaukei songwriter Iliesa Baravilala, the title track by James and Nai Loloma Senirosi, a song made famous by a sigidrigi group from Vanua Levu.
It struck a chord with iTaukei music appreciators in the late 1990s and into the new millennium and was very popular on radio.
When this newspaper caught up with James, he was relaxing at his Kashmir home in Lautoka.
It was hard to imagine the soft-spoken bespectacled man sitting across the room had once graced the music stage to swooning fans.
After about to two decades away from the music scene, James said he was ready for a comeback.
But this time, the schoolteacher who is a staunch Catholic, has expanded his musical palette, so to speak.
"I've composed quite a few Hindi Catholic hymns," he said.
"And this is something new for Fiji because all the Hindi hymns we sing in the Catholic church are imported from India.
"So this is the first-time that Fijians of Indian descent will be able to sing Hindi hymns composed by a local."
The hymns have been theologically cleared by the church and given the green light by Archbishop Peter Loy Chong.
An interesting fact is that James' interest in learning, singing and composing iTaukei songs began while he was a student teacher at Corpus Christi College in Nasese, Suva, in the late 1970s.
"There were only a handful of Indian students at the time. Most of the students were iTaukei and when they used to gather for social events around the tanoa, the old iTaukei songs really touched me even though I did not understand or speak Fijian that well."
Under the tutelage of close friend and ally, Paulo Nawalu (former Flying Fijian), James began to learn to sing a few iTaukei songs.
"My favourite was a song composed and originally performed by a group from Vanua Levu called Nai Loloma Senirosi."
The popular sigidrigi tune would later prove to play a pivotal part in James quest to be an iTaukei recording artiste and performer.
This was the song that convinced renowned local composer, Iliesa Baravilala, that the teacher from Raviravi, Ba, could sing even though he could not hold a conversation in the iTaukei language.
During social gatherings at Corpus Christi, many of the more popular songs that were harmonised into the wee hours of the morning, were Baravilala's compositions for then local music superstar, Jimmy Subhaydas.
"Everybody singing around the grog bowl would try to imitate Jimmy's singing style, but what really struck me were the lyrics.
"I can vividly recall the day I went to Master Iliesa — who was a teacher at Lautoka Teachers College (now Fiji National University Natabua Campus) — and asked him if he could write a few songs for me because I wanted to record an iTaukei album."
It was 1992, James had graduated from Corpus Christi and had scored a teaching role at St Thomas High School in Natabua.
It was there that he met Paulo Nawalu's younger brother, Leone.
Leone informed James that Baravilala was teaching at LTC, a stone's throw away from STHS.
The duo bought some kava and proceeded to search for the renowned composer.
When they found him in the music room at LTC, Baravilala was with Master Epeli Lagiloa (famous rugby coach). The duo presented a sevusevu and Leone made a formal request on James' behalf.
"Master Baravilala asked me to sing a song and the only song I could think of was Nai Loloma Senirosi. I started a bit nervously, but as I gained confidence, Master Epeli began to cheer me on and that's when I knew I was on the right track."
Baravilala took James under his wing and taught him the basic nuances of the iTaukei language.
When asked about the experience, the 70-year-old said James had a passion and a voice that could not be denied.
"When he came to me and asked me to compose songs for him, I thought to myself 'who is this fellow?' But when I asked him to sing, there was something in the way he performed that really touched my heart," Baravilala shared.
"I composed eight songs and recorded it on a cassette and gave it to him and he really studied those songs night and day.
"Whenever we met, I could hear the confidence in the way he sang and was familiar with my compositions.
"Even until today I am so humbled that he approached me and so proud of his amazing achievement.
"The only thing that saddens me is that, apart from Sebastian James and Jimmy Subhaydas, I have not seen or heard other local Indian singers put out iTaukei songs or albums.
"And I hope that there is a young Indian boy or man out there who has the passion to do as Sebastian and Jimmy have done."
The album was scheduled to be recorded in 1992 or 1993 but tragedy struck.
James was on his way to a live performance at the MM Cinema (opposite Ba Motorparts) in Lautoka when the vehicle he was travelling in was involved in a horrific accident with another car at Karavi on the outskirts of Ba.
James, along with five other passengers and the female driver of the other vehicle were rushed to the Lautoka Hospital.
He spent about two weeks recovering from a broken nose, head trauma and broken bones throughout his body.
"People who saw the vehicle thought that everyone had died because it was a head-on collision and there was blood everywhere," the schoolteacher reflected.
"But God had plans for me and after a long rehabilitation process, I finally recorded in 1996 and released in 1997."
James was recently called out of retirement by the International School Nadi. You can find him there on the weekdays, teaching mathematics. But in the afternoons and on weekends, he spends his time composing songs on a harmonium that was given to him by Catholic priest Father Iosefo Rokomatu.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Two Dancers in Fiji

Two Dancers in Fiji

Two figures on stage wait for the cue.
One with limbs shining with coconut oil,
and  his feet firmly anchored.
Fibre bands wrap his muscled arms,
he is bare-chested but with an ochre fibre skirt,
 And the musical beat is from a small Fijian drum.
The slender girl is bejewelled, wrapped in silks
with a sun-gold skirt like a bell,
as she lightly imitates a peacock stance,
then pauses holding the Indian pose.
When the slit drum starts up a regular beat
he leaps forward in a warlike challenge
the wooden club raised in defiance.
The dholak shifts to triplet beats,
she moves delicately, handed curved,
bending. Lifting her arms to the air
as the silks flutter and silver anklets shimmer.
With a shift in sound he prances forward,
threatening, the club swinging aloft,
then pauses watching for a reaction.
Her response is still a metaphor
of being feminine, softly inviting,
but confident of her own grace.
Then shift now is different, the club drops,
as he moves to stand behind the girl,
both now stepping to the same beat,
the lali and dhola drum in sync.
No more circling and disquiet,
difference is now a celebration.
The tourist audience clap like thunder
but the message does not reach
the local people, only invited visitors
at a cultural expo, only sunburnt foreigners.
Fijian Tourism Expo 2015 - Opening ceremony Indian versus Fijian dance!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Fijian boys perform Indian dance

Vinaka boys.  Good to have a go at Indian dancing.  Go to