Thursday, May 28, 2009
Reflections on the legacy of Ratu Sukuna
It is with pleasure to read some of Ratu Sukuna s historical notes as a part of our meditation this morning. Firstly think about yourself and the work you do today and compare this with the stories told about this great man. He is regarded as a father of our nation Fiji, even though he and his wife did not have children of their own. He was a scholarly high chief who took advantage of education. He was a freedom fighter for his Fiji, aware of the cultural need to protest Fijian land. He was the founder of the Native Land Trust Board. There are many young men and women today with the potential to live a useful life in Fiji or as a migrant from Fiji now living overseas.
From 1936 speeches to the Great Council of Chiefs:
• (on the Indian presence in his country): "Let us not ignore the fact that there is another community settled here in our midst. I refer to the Indians. They have increased more rapidly than we. They have become producers on our soil. They are continuously striving to better themselves. Although they are a different race, yet we are each a unit in the British Empire. They have shouldered many burdens that have helped Fiji onward. We have derived much money from them by way of rents.
• on the perceived need for cautious political development): "We are the High Chiefs of these islands. We are the leaders of the people. On us is the duty of pointing out to them the right course. Bear this in mind. We have to lead on two points- hold back those who advocate radical changes (for which we are not sufficiently educated) and enliven the laggards before their ignorance destroys us."
Because this was from 1936 (the year I was born) it is in a historical context, from those early days. Today there are many thousands of well educated Fiji men and women.
My earliest memory of Ratu Sukuna was in Nakama village out of Labasa. They had built a special bure for his visit as in those days it was easy to access building materials, not like today because sugar cane farms took away the traditional reeds and so on. But my father knew Ratu Sukuna well and they used to share stories.
May God Bless Fiji today, especially the young people.
Peceli has now gone to golf (and it’s only sunrise) but we were talking earlier about leadership in Fiji and how history repeats itself.
In the olden days, sometimes the strong warrior and his band of followers removed the traditional leader by force. This was a pattern in old Fiji so perhaps it is not surprising that men from the army repeat this situation. That May 14th 1987 was a shock and a great surprise when Rabuka made his move, but in hindsight, it was one of the Fijian ways of dealing with unhappiness with leadership.
Also there is variety in chiefly headership. Some are good at networking, being pragmatic, in order to obtain grants and development for their community. Some take on a professional role, such as Ratu Sukuna’s brother Ratu Dovi who became a caring doctor. Other chiefs like Ratu Sukuna have vision and inspire by working hard to see a way of solving a problem, such as the relationship between land and the Fijian people. Other chiefs like Ratu Mara are inspirational by their intellect and view of developing a modern society as part of the international scene. So today, as we think about the legacy of Ratu Sukuna, there is much to reflect upon.