Today's editorial is very funny, or is it, about Santa giving something to all the people of Fiji. Is it really funny though. Is it good news for every Tomu, Dike, Ari, Hari, Usha, Gangamma? And another thing, there's a suggestion that schools be renamed to take away any reference to ethnicity or religion. Hmmm.
A ‘Fijian’ Christmas
F: What is Santa bringing you for Christmas this year?
N-F: A new name
F: A new name - what kind of gift is that?
N-F: Good question
F: What name is it?
F: Why did you ask for that – that’s my name?
N-F: I didn’t ask for it – it was someone else’s idea, but I hope you don’t mind
F: No I don’t mind, but is having this new name just going to be a toy you play
with or is it a practical thing you can use?
N-F: It’s practical – it means I can belong and not feel like a stranger or alien in Fiji anymore
F: Is that how you felt before?
N-F: Sometimes – especially when that Butadroka fellow was around.
F: So your children will be registered at birth as ‘Fijian’ just like mine
N-F: I suppose
F: So your ethnicity or race won’t be recognised even if you want it?
N-F: I’m not sure
F: Maybe you and your children will just be ‘Fijian’ on your passports
N-F: Yeah, maybe I will be ‘Fijian’ on my passport and ‘Non-Fijian’ on my birth certificate
F: And Non-Fijian to your wife and family and neighbours and work friends as well
N-F: So they can still call me by what they know me to be culturally, and by my
ancestry, but everyone else will be required to know me as ‘Fijian’ – is that what you’re saying?
F: Sounds complicated – we may end up with be two kinds of ‘Fijians’ still: traditional Fijians and ‘Passport Fijians’
N-F: Yeah, I guess
F: What if someone who has always known you as Non-Fijian refuses to accept your new gifted name of ‘Fijian’ – will they be prosecuted?
N-F: I don’t know how the law will work. Perhaps the new name of ‘Fijian’ is going
to be optional.
F: But all of us having the same name will make you feel more at home with us
F: Well then everybody should share in your Christmas gift
N-F: So long as their rights are not subordinated to the state’s right to impose a
new name on them?
F: But it’s for their own good – and for the good of nation. After all, you say
you will feel better about it. Mark my words N-F, the social benefits of santa’s gift to you this year will be appreciated sooner or later by everyone who receives it
N-F: And what are those benefits again?
F: Like you said before: no one will feel highlighted or stigmatised any more. And
with everyone being ‘Fijian’ perhaps no one will know how many of the ‘old’ kind of
Fijians are in prison – if you know what I mean
N-F: National statistics will be racially invisible?
F: Could be - yes
N-F: We may be then one big happy indiscriminate family? All called by the same name to share and bear our various burdens and celebrate our various victories without regard
to what we are by history or ancestry?
F: Yes, maybe
N-F: Well, in that case, thank you Santa.
And then in the Fiji Times Dec 21st there's an article about names of schools in Fiji. I know that there is a sense of separation - which is not good - in the current naming, and I really like multi-cultural schools best, but it is an imposition to want to change e.g. Vunimoli Indian School and Vunimoli Fijian school - to First Vunimoli School, Second Vunimoli School. Okay, that's just made up.
FTA opposes name changeBy Verenaisi Raicola
Sunday, December 21, 2008
THE Fijian Teachers Association has condemned the President's approval of the People's Charter and the amendment to the Constitution to call everyone Fijian.
FTA president Tevita Koroi said eliminating racial profiling by the interim Government would remove the people's identity. "The FTA's position has not changed," he said.
"We did not endorse the document from the beginning and never will."
Mr Koroi said changing the names of schools to suit the charter ideals was disrespectful.
"It is the communities that have named these institutions and replacing names would take away the identity of the people," Mr Koroi said.
He said an institution's name reflected the make-up and values of a community in which it was located.
"Taking that away would remove the community spirit and that should not be allowed," he said.
Mr Koroi said he could not figure out why it was hurtful to call an institution Fijian school or Indian school.
"What's wrong with being Fijian?
"People should be proud of who they are and appreciate the differences that make us a community instead of tearing down identities because that will not unite the people," he said.
The People's Charter is based on 11 pillars that, among other things, aims to bring the people of this country together.