copied from Chief's blog, tribewanted website:
Thursday 15th June
Bengazi talks to Tui Mali’s nephew and tribewanted community representative, Ulai Baya, about life growing up on the island and the exciting prospect of his community working in partnership with tribewanted.
Bengazi: “Bula sia Ulai! First of all, what does this partnership between Tui Mali and tribewanted mean to you and the community?”
Ulai: “Bula sia Bengazi! The partnership between tribewanted and the Tui Mali’s yavusa is an unprecedented one. One founded on the implicit understanding between the founders of tribewanted and the landowning unit towards a common goal to ensure the sustainable development of the island community. There is no better opportunity to offer a small community the chance to develop in a collaborative way than tribewanted’s choice of Vorovoro as the Adventure Island. So much so given the varying ideas, the different cultural and technical backgrounds, who will visit and call the island home for the next three years. Some of these ideas will undoubtedly remain and become an integral part of the island in years to come. To this end, this partnership is of immense value given the sum total of its socio economic perspective on the island’s future. Through tribewanted, the island itself becomes a phenomenon of intellectual pieces coming together.
Ulai (right) with Joreti Dakuwaqa, Manager for the Native Land Trust Board in Northern Fiji, on their way ‘home’.
Bengazi: “How does the Mali community feel about this project?”
Ulai: “To the community of Mali, this is a proud moment. People all over the world through this partnership will come to know of Vorovoro, the needs of its people and possible ways of addressing them with solutions from all corners of the globe. To the people of Mali, Vorovoro is very dear and close to their hearts. Reference to it, imbues a sense of pride and a feeling of infinite connection to everything regarding it. It is about who you are and where you come from. It is therefore an immense honor to have the world’s attention drawn towards you whilst at the same time showing concerns about it in facilitating discussions towards its sustainable development. The opportunities that results from it would be priceless.”
Bengazi: “What are you looking forward to?”
Ulai: “I am excited about the arrival of the first tribe members given the different cultures, views and their reaction to everything on the island. The sheer interest and focus on the island with continuous arrival of members would take sometime to sink in. I guess it must be seen to be believed given that the island is sometimes home to two people.”
Bengazi: “You haven’t lived on the island for quite a few years now, but what do you remember from your childhood there?”
Ulai: “I remember one particular story well. Once, whilst on “tutelage attachment” with my grandfather, the batteries of our little transistor radio lived its full life. That radio was our only connection to the outside world. During that week we went about our daily chores; cutting copra and digging and preparing yam gardens. On Sunday we waded across, during low tide to the nearest village to attend church. To our surprise, kids from that village were nosily making their way towards Vorovoro with fishing spears equipped for a whole days expedition. After some concerning thoughts regarding Christian values and reverence shown towards the day of rest, we were abruptly informed that “Sunday was yesterday” Indeed, we had lost a day.
Bengazi: “Do you have a favourite part of the island?”
Ulai: “Yes, my favourite part of Vorovoro is turtle beach (the southern tip) because it used to have a small concrete contraption where we would collect water from a small cliff face for afternoon bath. Usually the approach is along the beach during sunset after a hard days work. There is no view so magnificent as such. To a young mind it has a lasting and indelible effect of having survived a day without a bother from the outside world.”
Bengazi: “What do you think is the most important aspect of this project for Tui Mali?”
Ulai: “For Tui Mali, it is the welfare of his people. It is about the involvement of the whole community on a eco-sustainable project with little or minimal affectation to the environment. That Vorovoro is fronted by the third largest continuous reef formation in the world (now with fishing moratorium) tribewantred is a perfect compliment in many ways. The commencement of this partnership will undoubtedly showcase northern Vanua Levu to the rest of Fiji and the world. It is about the world (through tribal members) concerning itself in the development of the community of Mali and its people that has for Tui Mali the most exciting potential.”
Tui Mali requests ‘country music’ on Bengazi’s i-pod. What were the chances?
Bengazi: “What do you think lies at the core of the tribewanted idea?”
Ulai: “Tribewanted is about a social exchange of invaluable proportion. There’s a sense of travel and the experience of a new social environment. There is also that sense of satisfaction from the intercultural co-existence. The sum total is interactive community development with utmost respect to community values and its people. It will be an amazing experience for all involved!”
Bengazi: “Ulai, vinaka vakelevu and see you in your back garden soon.”
Ulai: “Vinaka Chief and bula vinaka tribe – bring on September!”
Ulai has a professional background in Law with special interests in Natural Resource law and related policy issues. Having practiced in Australian native title jurisdiction looking after Aboriginal native title rights and interests in land and waters for indigenous Australians in the Central Queensland region, Ulai is well placed as the community representative in Fiji. For Ulai getting involved with tribewanted was “a chance to realize a dream in attracting world attention to the North and to appreciate the beauty and tranquility of what we can offer along the Macuata coast.”
MJ & Ben