The debate continues and here is a letter from today's Fiji Times.
Maikali Drauna's letter (FT 4/2) and his challenge to Stan Ritova to admit to the "truth" of his Rotuman heritage show a deep-seated prejudice based on a mythical notion of Fijian racial purity and homogeneity.
If we applied Mr Drauna's logic that the present Tui Labasa, Adi Salanieta, has no claim to the title of Tui Labasa because her great-great-grandfather was Rotuman, then Queen Elizabeth II has no right to claim the throne of England because her great great-grandfather, the Prince Consort, Alfred, was German.
For heaven's sake, Mr Drauna, give us a break.
My readings tell me that we Fijians are a mixture of Melanesian and Polynesian stock and we are genetically linked to the aboriginal people of Taiwan from whence we originated.
Some of us might not like this idea but hey, that's what the scientific evidence tells us.
Recent research into mitochondrial DNA confirms indigenous Fijians have the highest genetic diversity of all Pacific Island peoples and the ancestral mother of all indigenous Fijians living today, was wait for it Polynesian.
Linguistically, Fijians also have a closer affinity to Polynesians than they have with their cousins in Melanesia. Dr Paul Geraghty can expound more on this.
In light of these facts, my immediate reaction on reading Mr Drauna's letter was "... so what then, is so alien about Adi Salanieta's great, great-grandfather being Rotuman (if indeed he was) when the facts show extensive gene flows between Polynesians and Melanesians in the indigenous Fijian makeup"?
If we look around us today many of the chiefly families in Fiji as well as ordinary Fijians, have either Samoan, Tongan, English, Scottish, Irish, Chinese or even Indian blood in their veins (and I contend they are better persons for it).
So too does Adi Salanieta, if indeed she has the blood of a noble Rotuman chief in her veins.
She has conducted herself thus far in the good grace that I expect of a bona fide Fijian marama which confirms to me that she is indeed descended from a chiefly line.
But it seems Mr Drauna and his group won't allow these facts to stand in the way of their prejudice which must have a deeper motive.
Nonetheless, what this issue demonstrates is that indigenous Fijians do suffer from an identity crisis that is loaded with false perceptions of racial purity where we insist on homogeneity, scientific facts to suggest diversity.
We have been programmed by British colonialism to believe we are a special people, superior to other people in the Pacific, when in reality we are very much part of them, albeit a highly diversified version of the rest of our own kind which probably explains our present confusion and political travails.
For me, as a Fijian from Tailevu, I do think while our cultural values are basically patrilineal we should acknowledge and promote our matrilineal or vasu bloodlines because they have so much to offer in terms of enriching our own lives.
Culture is an evolving phenomenon and if we don't change with the times, we will be doomed.
And an item in the Fiji Times on the dispute that has not yet been resolved.
Tribunal hears chiefly argumentThursday, February 07, 2008
THE Native Lands Commission will decide by the end of the month who should be the Tui Labasa. This follows presentations by two factions to the Native Land Appeals Tribunal yesterday. The tribunal hearing, chaired by Ratu Inoke Seniloli and co-chaired by Ro Alipate Mataitini and Ratu Solomone Buaserau, was held at the Commissioner Northern's office.
The Drauna family, a faction of the chiefly clan of the Mataqali Wasavulu in Naseakula Village, of which the current Tui Labasa Adi Salainieta Tuilomaloma is a member, appealed against the decision made by the Native Lands Commission on July 28, 2006 which ruled in favour of Adi Salanieta.
Ratu Inoke allowed the 18 tribes of the vanua of Labasa to present their views on the chiefly title held by the Qomate family and challenged by the Drauna family.
Adi Salanieta and Ratu Epeli Drauna, who challenged the decision by the NLC were also given time to speak but both identified themselves and their links to the chiefly title through blood lines.
Most of the 18 tribes supported Adi Salanieta as their chief while a representative from the Drauna clan spoke of the Rotuman blood line the Ritova and Qomate families had. Ratu Inoke said they would look at the presentations before making a decision.