Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Chief of Labasa

I'm posting this without knowing all the details so it is just as a reporter from the Fiji Times wrote it. The choice of a chief is often a difficult one as several clans claim it as their right. It is not father to son at all, and often moves to a different family. There have been female chiefs in Labasa such as Adi Losalidi in the early part of the 20th century and again many years later.

One consideration in many places in Fiji is financial as where there are numerous parcels of land out to rent, the income can be very lucrative.
W.
Fiji Times today. Chief vows to unite vanua
Sunday, July 30, 2006

THE new Tui Labasa says the vanua of Wasavulu, in Labasa, is still divided despite the Native Lands Commission announcing her as its paramount chief. But Adi Salaseini Tuilomaloma Ritova Qomate said she would make it her business to ensure the vanua is united during her reign.

"The differences are still there," she said. "But I won't rest here, I will go to them and make sure that we reconcile," she said yesterday "It's up to them, whether they receive me. As a chief I have to go down to my people and try to bring everyone together."

Adi Salaseini, 76, said she was grateful to the tikina for rallying behind her despite the differences in her village of Naseakula.

The post was left vacant after her youngest brother, Ratu Joeli Qomate, died in 2002. The post had been contested by the Drauna and Dimuri families.

Adi Salaseini said the post was hers but she gave it to her two younger brothers, Ratu Tevita and Ratu Joeli. "It's mine, but I gave it to them because they are men," she said.

Adi Salaseini said she would look after the interests of her people for as long as she was their chief. "I'm their chief and I will make sure their welfare is looked after," she said.

The former Fiji Sugar Corporation employee said despite the years of discrimination she had to go through, she was thankful to God."I had never been discriminated like this before in my life. It started after my two brothers died," she said.

Adi Salaseini said the difficulties she had to go through before the announcement moulded her into a stronger person. She said she needed the experience to shape her for leadership.

Adi Salaseini chaired her first bose vanua right after the announcement.

NLC chairman Ratu Viliame Tagivetaua declared that Adi Salaseini was the rightful holder of the title after the dispute in the vanua.

He said the Tui Labasa title only belonged to the Qomate family and not the mataqali.

3 comments:

Pandabonium said...

What exactly do chiefs do these days? I've always been a bit mystified by the political system in Fiji. It seems to be a blend of elements.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Ceremonial duties, being there at special events, providing inspiration in times of trouble, being a 'father' or 'mother' figure to the extended family - or- taking the status very seriously and collecting priority at feasts, and collecting first cut of lease money! Hmmm. Some chiefs are inspirational - such as the Tui Macuata who has a passion for conservation of the reef resources along the Macuata coastline.
I have been brought up as an Australian to regard status as something to be earned so it is still strange to me about a tiered society.
Joe has just arrived from Fiji with a bundle of newspapers so I'll sign off now! Peceli still has four weeks to go!
Wendy

Pandabonium said...

Ah, rent money. It becomes more clear.