Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lotu, vanua, matanitu

from w
I have been thinking of the three-pillar view of the integrated lotu(Christian church), vanua (Fijian culture) and matanitu (government) which seems to put a traditionally accepted view at odds with a different view of society. The author wrote an article in a Fiji Times newspaper some time ago that provides some background on the topic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Charter will dismantle the Wesleyan missionary inspired Trinitarian "Matanitu, Lotu, Vanua" design of the indigenous Fijian polity. This model of governance is attributed to the smooth transition of the socio-political landscape from warfare and cannibalism to peaceful co-existence within the unitary state of Fiji.

The 1880's saw the first steps in the re-imagined social restructure with the forced resettlement of communities from ancient sites to the present day legally confined space called a 'village'. This enabled a paradigm shift to the introduced communal lifestyle with the culture of the ancient community condemned to the prohibited 'daku ni kuila'.

That is, Fijians are not allowed to revisit or attempt to resurrect the traditions and culture of the pre-colonial era. Then began a mass indoctrination program of Wesleyan Christian catechism and education to create the Trinitarian 'Matanitu, Lotu, Vanua' design of the re-imagined Fijian polity. Each village was modeled into a miniaturised "Kingdom of God" with a dual segregation of occupants into Christians (lotu) and non-Christians (tawalotu). The lotu were villagers who had readily accepted Wesleyan Methodism and their families were deemed inside the 'Kingdom of God'.

They received specialised education in institutions like the Navuloa Methodist College and armed with reading and writing skills, carpentry and plumbing were absorbed into the Church and colonial administration. Also these families became the new middleclass and first locals to reside in urban centers. On the other hand, the tawa lotu denied of education became the "forced labour" crews of the crop tax economy, to be paid by villagers to the colonial government. Being tawa lotu the fiery wrath of God was on them for all eternity. And to substantiate the inferior status, their ancestors (vu) were vilified as re-imagined biblical villains. The ancestral cogent vu, Rokobatidua is an example of this castigation process and all progenitors have endured untold misery from this missionary curse.

All due to their ancestors' refusal to convert to Wesleyan Methodist Christianity. After the two segregated major divisions, each depending on the number of sub units called tokatoka was further compartmentalised into mataqali, a grouping of tokatoka. The mataqali became the state sanctioned landowning entity with the head or turaga ni mataqali appointed with the colonial backed title of Ratu. And due to their special status, the Ratu was the link to the state apparatus with membership in various committees and quasi-councils that led to the Great Council of Chiefs. The role of Ratu elevated to divine status by the missionary translated Bible verse, Na Turaga sa mai vua na Kalou ("the powers that be are ordained of God"). All these Navuloa missionary imaginations were codified and conveniently made legal through state sanctioned instruments like the Tukutuku Raraba and Vola ni Kawa Bula. There is no doubt that collusion between the colonial officials and Wesleyan missionaries of Navuloa resulted in the pacifying and restructure of the vanua. This Trinitarian model is the cornerstone of the communal lifestyle with families interconnected by an intricate system of traditional ties and obligations. Turbulently, the rebellious elements against this Leviathanian monolith like Navosavakadua and Apolosi Ranawai were categorised as demonic cultists suffering banishment and incarceration for their treasonous actions. Eventually, the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Labour Organisation Conventions caught up with the inhumanity perpetrated by the Wesleyan backed colonials in 1965 and resulted in the end of 'forced labour' work groups and eventual freedom of movement and association of Fijians in all the colony.

The original trinitarian design still exists today, but has undergone changes in the Ratu Sukuna mode of "slow evolution from within". All Fijian political parties from the Alliance, SVT to the SDL have taken advantage of the model to control government through the vanua and Wesleyan Methodist Church. Today, a direct threat to the continued existence of the trinitarian model is the Charter 'Pillar':

Enhance a separation between religion and state.

The 'Pillar' is one of the 13 principles to end the coup culture. This statement is contextually relevant only to western models of a dualistic society whose citizens have been socialized into the habits of individualism and the economic benefits of private property.

Meanwhile, rural Fijians operate in the opposite spectrum of a communal family oriented traditional lifestyle. Herein is the beginning of a crisis of insurmountable proportions as the two contrasting ideologies collide. Furthermore, as Christianity without the Trinity is not mainline Christianity, any attempt to "separate" any part of the model will result in the collapse of the whole structure. And that is exactly what the Charter proposes to do by separating lotu (religion) and matanitu (state). Since the trinitarian model operates in the communal values of veiwekani (strong family ties), veirokorokovi (honour) and veirogorogoci (listening), any separation will eventuate in the vanua spiral into anomic decadence. The lotu or Wesleyan Methodism is important to the vanua for moral guidance and her absentia opens the door to witchcraft and the occult as alternative sources of spiritual guidance.

In fact, the idea of daku ni kuila is a protective mechanism for the vanua to be shielded from the debauchery and wickedness associated with the dark arts of the past cannibalistic religion. And the Wesleyan Methodist missionaries envisioned that the only avenue to protect the Fijian from that inhumane lifestyle was for nurturing within the trinitarian model to ensure proper guidance for the body, soul and spirit. Moreover, the state sanctioned role of Ratu or head of the mataqali was by convention expected to seat at the apex of all Fijian institutions be it Matanitu, Lotu or Vanua.

Hence, for Fijian based political parties like the Alliance, SVT and SDL, it is traditional protocol for a Ratu to be at the helm. Whilst the Charter proponents may have specifically targeted the stronghold of religious fundamentalists and ethno-nationalists in the SDL/Methodist camp in the Charter 'Pillar' statement, other side effects may have not been foreseen.

What might happen next is exemplified in the effects of New Church Groups (NCG) in Fijian villages. Most villages ban American based charismatic and Pentecostal churches for their non-observance of traditional protocols. These NCG teach an American brand of Christianity incorporating ideas of separation of church and state; separation of church and community; belief in private property and preach a purely American "Prosperity Gospel" which is irrelevant in Fiji due to the underdeveloped nature of the share market economy. That is, Americans can readily access the stock exchange market from their homes for capital gains, a system not accessible to ordinary Fijians. In fact, the number of pyramid schemes that NCG members have succumbed to over the years is a testimony to the irreverent preaching of the "Prosperity Gospel". As evidenced in Fijian villages, these church followers create a 'private property' mentality for their homes and distance themselves from the traditional communal living.

These are the hallmarks of a foreign ideology being implanted into native soil. In fact, these NCG will inadvertently become pro-Charter apologists due to their similarity in ideology.

If that scenario is used, once the Charter is implemented the vanua is dislodged from the trinitarian model and villagers are no longer bound to the communal lifestyle. Like the NCG they may opt to reside on customary land, albeit private property, away from the village for security purposes.

The situation deteriorated due to the severance from the Methodist Church, as villagers are free to experience the occult or anarchy as alternative sources of morality. With the demise of the village social setting and communal lifestyle, the "de-reserving" of all native land will be hastened to enable individual families access to financial assistance via mortgages.

Alarmingly, traditional symbols like the lali and tanoa will lose their role to engage the communal spirit as the village polity has succumbed to self-ishness of individualism. Alas, Fijians are now at the mercy of the 'root of all evil'. And once all indigenous Fijians reside on private property, a culture becomes extinct.

Mesmerisingly, this is not new as the colonial government embarked on a similar path in the 1880s with the resettlement of Fijians from ancient sites to present day villages. Aided by the Wesleyan Methodist Christians that ancient culture was mortified with the term daku ni kuila. Today, the scenario is the same with different actors taking the lead role. The interim Government has replaced the colonial government and the Catholic Church has replaced Wesleyan Methodism. And the religious fundamentalist, ethno-nationalist and past colonial government policies have replaced daku ni kuila as the culture of mortification. The fourth estate is the replica Navosavakadua and Apolosi Ranawai neo-tribal cultists destined to enjoy the comforts of Nukulau.

As such, any state sanctioned enforced transition from communalism to individualism will undoubtedly continue the "cycle of dehumanization" of the Fijian personhood.

The only question left is, will this Charter 'Pillar' achieve its goal of ending the coup culture. Coups are like a flu endemic, it only disappears when the host dies.

Therefore, the only solution to the coup culture is either the dismantling of the 'host' state of Fiji or the military. Then what of the Fijian people? Their culture and traditions are about to undergo a metamorphosis; their last sojourn was the state sanctioned christo-centric trinitarian model of communalism.

Their future is a spectrum of antiquarian alternatives, definitively an imposed decentralized anti-Christian, pluralist model of society with polytheism the state encouraged religion of choice. In conclusion, since ending the coup culture is obviously an illusion, the Charter is simply yet again another depraved narcissistic attempt at neo-colonial imagination for cultural ethnocide.

No comments: