Friday, May 16, 2008

Know history

from w
Dr. Brij Lal was one of the editors of a book launched this week, looking back 21 years to that momentous first coup in Fiji. He spoke of knowing your history, and that children in Fiji these days do not have extensive studies in local history. The title of the article is a bit misleading though.

Current situation saddening says Academic
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Academic Dr Brij Lal says it’s saddening to see that people nowadays have very little knowledge about the history and at the same time care less to know about it. He says history is only taught from form five so a whole generation grows up not knowing where they have come from. Dr Lal supported his statement highlighting the coverage by media of the coup and Girmit anniversary. “I picked up two dailies, newspapers not a single word, not a single word in either of them, either about Girmit or about the 21st anniversary of coup, what does that tell us about the kind of people; we are when momentous historic occasions like this we don’t remember except for doddering Historians like myself for digging up the past- the business of my life so that is saddening.

“I deeply believe that unless we know where we come from, we wont know where we going as the expression in Hindi is “bina pendhi ka lota” – a rolling stone”.
Yes, I am sure that Brij Lal is right. Even in Australia the study of history is almost defunct in schools these days, but it is important to know what happened before as it's the way to understand the reasons for the situation today. The 'why' behind the coups of recent years. The 'why' that some people are agitated about race, the 'why' some people hold onto customs that seem irrelevant in the modern world. I once taught history (and other subjects) in Fiji schools. Though I was extremely naive about local history I had a go at it and in those days the emphasis was colonial so I had to filter out the bias. Too much history is of course written by the strong, the top people, the winners, and mainly by men. I don't think that learning dates by rote and the order of kings and queens of England is that important. I mean social history, how all kinds of people lived so that we can appreciate the ease of living today - well for some people.

Early this year Peceli went to Cuvu for a church celebration which involved telling stories about the coming of the lotu to Sila and Nareba and other places in Nadroga. Peceli and others with interest in this place researched the early days of the Methodist missions there and the stories of the heroic men and women who were the lay preachers, teachers, and ministers there. The knowledge of the earlier times by the Cuvu people has stirred their hearts into a renewal in their Christian faith. Knowing your family stories, knowing the history of your clans and peoples and country is really important.

Gerda Lerner writes:
We can learn from history how past generations thought and acted, how they responded to the demands of their time and how they solved their problems. We can learn by analogy, not by example, for our circumstances will always be different than theirs were. The main thing history can teach us is that human actions have consequences and that certain choices, once made, cannot be undone. They foreclose the possibility of making other choices and thus they determine future events.


Anonymous said...

First of all, I would like to say a big vinaka vakalevu for the variety of subjects you post and we enjoy reading about them. History is important because there are lessons to be learnt from the past, both positive and negative. There are many facets of history and collectively, families should encourange the recording of their stories, compiling of family records.Teachers should teach the subject in a manner that will interest the students. Leaders at all levels should show by example good leadership and governance so that we leave a sound legacy to the future leaders of our country. Personally, I think families need to take pride first and foremost in their family histories.If you look at our records in the Pacific, it's only the chiefs and other political leaders who have their records documented. Many ordinary people don't even recite their family geneaology to their children and grandchildren, as a result many people only know up to their grandparents.We need to take pride in our families and pass down those good things we learnt from the our elders, like traditional medicines, how to preserve food in the tropics, conservation, etc. Vinaka vakalevu, Pikaki

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Pikaki,
Your name is unusual. Is it a Hawaiian flower?
Your comments are spot-on.
Fiji Post and other papers ran stories about International Museum Day in Fiji.
Museum wants more interest
19-May-2008 10:55 AM
The Fiji Museum has called on the public to take more interest in heritage issues as it commemorated International Museum Day yesterday. The museum’s education officer Tevita Seru said they have observed in the recent years, there was little interest shown by the locals in the artifacts and history contained in the museum.

“The locals don’t usually see the museum as a good place to visit,” he said.

“If you want to know about your heritage, the culture attached to the land and simply find out about the history of the communities in Fiji, the museum is the place to do so,” said Seru.

He added that the museum did not only feature Fijian artifacts and history, but also that of the Indians, the Chinese and the other communities who now call Fiji home.

“The school visits though are still the same and we are still getting a lot of students every year and visitors to Fiji also show keen interest,” said Seru.
My comment:
The Fiji Museum is an interesting place but perhaps needs to be modernised to attract people. I used to take students there from Suva schools anyway. Some of the items are a bit spooky though. I took a photo of two house posts from Macuata and the photos didn't come out!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Pikaki is a Hawaiian name for a flower.History is of great interest to me and have been researching my own family history and geneaology and have found some very interesting information about my roots in Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and England.Was surprised to find that the branch I thought was Tongan, were actually Fijian who went to Tonga and assimilated there for many years but they took with them a lot of the traditions which are now seen to be lost in Fiji.Was able to trace another branch all the way back to Lutunasobasoba. Now working on the English and Samoan roots to gain more insight into origins. Vinaka vakalevu Wendy and Peceli. Pikaki in Sydney

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Pikaki in Sydney, so you are not far away at all! Yes, Fijians even now live in parts of Tonga. When our youngest son went to Tonga with the Fiji Aths team the Fijians there hosted the team but gave the athletes pork for breakfast each day! They still do a meke wesi in Tonga too. There's a lot of movement between Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.
I'm rewriting a Fijian chant on how some Tongans came to Fiji. I'll post bits of it in a couple of days I hope. Based on a story told to Rev Fison in about 1890 from the then Tui Nayau.

Vanita Nair said...

Hello, firstly, thank you for discussing matters that are very important to all of us who have attachments to Fiji. I refer to "Know history" topic and would like to add that, I, like many of you share the passion, the desire, to know and understand more about the Girmit Era. To learn more about the "Girmitiyas", their life, their dreams and aspirations, and amongst that, their hardships. Over the past 2 years I have been working on compiling information on this particular subject and have established a website to that effect - this website shares a lot of historical information on the Girmit era and is focussed on the 60954 Indians who travelled to Fiji between 1869 - 1921. This website is available at - and right now the priority is the massive task of digitalising the 60,000 immigations passes so that its available on a searchable database for people who wish to trace their roots back to India or for sentimental reasons. You can contact me via my website. Thanks

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Vanita,
Thank you for the link to your website. It is important for people to know their family history and also for others to acknowledge the gross errors in the treatment of people by goverments, institutions and businesses. When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?