Friday, May 16, 2008
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.