Sunday, July 08, 2007

Going Home and Pacific Identity

from w

Quite often we meet young people who say they are Fijian or Islander but they have never been to 'home'. They were born in other countries and maybe one parent is not from the South Pacific. These young people have sometimes said, 'I really want to know the identity of my father.' Or, mother.

Going Home and Identity

Yesterday I was watching a TV Message Stick program called 'The Coming of the Light' about a celebration in a Torres Strait island about the arrival of the first missionaries to them on 1 July 1871, who happened to include pastors from the South Pacific. When I heard their music, saw their dance, their dress, it seemed that the connection with places like Tonga and Samoa had made a lasting impact.

The early LMS teachers, led by British missionaries the Rev. Samuel McFarlane and the Rev. AW Murray, were from Lifu and Mare in the Loyalty Islands, and, later, from Aitutaki, Rarotonga and Manihiki in the Cook Islands, and from Samoa and Niue.

The Torres Strait Islands are part of Australia but the Islanders are different from Australian Aboriginal people and even Papua New Guinea people. They seem to be much more like South Pacific Islanders. Christine Anu, the singer of 'My Island Home' about the 'salt-water people' comes from this area. A TV series 'Remote Area Nurse' is about life on one of the islands there.

The main point of the TV program was the 'going back' of a young man, Marcus Smith, who was raised in the West Indies where he was associated with the Rastafarians. His father's mother was from the Torres Strait islands. This man is now living in Cairns, Australia and he made the trip to the Torres Strait for the 'Coming of the Light' celebration at Erub Island. He was very weepy when he approached a particular 'sacred ground' and felt at last he knew his identity. This 'going home' can be an emotional and even a spiritual experience for the person.

I am sure there are some interesting stories out there of young people in places like New Zealand, Australia, and USA who make the trip to Fiji or some other Pacific Island for the first time to make that connection with their heritage.


Pandabonium said...

Especially when the transition is still within memory and/or the family is still practicing some aspects of the home culture.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

It has been a very moving experience for some Aboriginal people who were from the 'stolen generation' - ie. removed from natural parents and adopted into the mainstream society - to go back and find their biological relatives.