Wednesday, June 30, 2010


from w, One sentence in a news item caught my attention:

'Meanwhile the Fijian Affairs Act will now be renamed the ‘itaukei’ Affairs Act – and the word ‘Fijian’ will be replaced with ‘itaukei’ in all legislations.'

Does that now mean that all references to the indigenous people of Fiji will no longer be 'Fijian' but 'itaukei'?

It's harder to say, harder to spell, and it means 'landowners' doesn't it, so what about those indigenous folk who don't own land? Up till recently when the term 'Fijian' was used occasionally by non-indigenous people who are Fiji Nationals, most people still used the term to refer to a cultural group and language. So it's going to be a bit of a change which I presume is driven by the aim of giving one name to all Fiji Nationals. So will it now be the itaukei language?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The media decree and MaiLife

from w
MaiLife is a great magazine with informative stories, is on the move with today's Pacific world, is inclusive of stories about a variety of Fiji people. We do want it to survive the decree's subsection about cross media ownership.

From Fijivillage today:
Owners of Mai Life Magazine contemplate future
Publish date/time: 29/06/2010 [17:24]

The owners of Mai Life Magazine are now contemplating the future of their investment as the restrictions on cross media ownership in the new Media Industry Development Decree will have serious implications on the monthly magazine. Under the Media Decree, Cross Media Ownership is where a person of a certain medium is limited in the amount of shares they can hold in other mediums or of the same medium.

This applies to the ownership of Mai Life Magazine which is owned and operated by Richard Boardbridge and his wife Judith Ragg as Broadbridge is also the founder and the director of MaiTv.

Section 39 sub section 4 of the decree states that no person may act as a director in more than one media organisation and they have been given 12 months to comply with the cross ownership requirements in the Media Decree.

Speaking to Fijivillage news, Richard Broadbridge said they have to study the decree before deciding their next step. However he said it would be a shame if MaiLife magazine is forced to close down.

Section 43 of the Media Decree on Cross Media ownership states that any media organisation or person that breaches the provisions will be fined not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years.

The Decree also stated that any media organisation in breach of this provision may have their registration cancelled and the media organisation cease to operate.

Meanwhile, when asked as to why twelve months has been given to ensure that cross media ownership issues were dealt with and only three months given for media organisations to ensure that were 90 percent locally owned, Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said it is sufficient time for those who are affected to comply.

The only exemption in this section of the Media Decree extends to the State and any State owned entity or any media organisation in which the State owns majority shares.

Story by: Roneel Lal
And of course, the Fiji Times owners/staff will have to seriously comtemplate their future as well. I do not like monopolies and want diversity of views in the media, but this is an organization of long standing in Fiji and a reputable newspaper. Certainly it runs rings about Fiji Sun with its little stories of watermelons and so on. Of course there is a trade-off when overseas companies do business in Fiji, but the journalists are local and about two hundred people do have jobs! The Australian media (radio, TV, and print) have had a field day criticizing what has happened, or might happen in three months. A more balanced view is that local ownership shared with overseas investors is desirable but how to get the right balance is debatable.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fijians in Melbourne

from w
Yesterday afteroon four different Fijian church communities joined together at the Coburg Uniting Church for worship, kava, and a delicious meal. There must have been nearly three hundred people there from babies to elderlies, lots of youth, and it was a good time of great singing, including po-lotu with the triangle, articulate passionate preaching, and singing in vanua groups such as Tovata, Burebasaga and Kubuna. Then we had fellowship, crowded, in the adjoining hall and room. The hosts were the Fijian Methodist Church and the rest of us from Dandenong, Chadstone and Altona Meadows/Laverton. The men drank kava in one room and the rest of us in the hall. We had a delicious lovo meal. Here are a few photos.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Kava shirts to dye for

from w,
Only in the 'High Tide' country of Savusavu would someone come up with this idea. Shirts steeped overnight in kava! The enterprising designers are from Windward and are a Canadian couple who love to live in Savusavu. Their Windward Apparel website says more. There certainly should be a song written about these shirts!
from Fiji Times the astute Labasa journo, Teresa.
Kava shirts on show
Theresa Ralogaivau
Saturday, June 26, 2010
KAVA shirts from Savusavu will feature on the world stage at the Shanghai Expo in China soon. The shirt which is steeped in a 40 gallon drum full of the popular traditional brew, yaqona, has been selected to showcase Fijian culture and designs through textiles at the Fiji Pavilion of the Expo. The shirts are manufactured by Windward Apparel in Savusavu.

Owner Sean Cody said kava shirts are popular in the tourist marked because of the traditional significance of kava and indigenous designs printed on it. "We have been selling them to resorts around the country," he said. "The shirt is dyed overnight in yaqona, that's lots of yaqona and taken out the following day, hung out to dry.
"A fixative is added to retain the yaqona dye which basically means you can suck on the shirt sleeve and feel good. And traditional Fijian designs are printed on it to make it a genuine textile representative of Fijian tradition. And to be showcased at the expo is major with 190 countries participating."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oh sister let's go down

from w,
One of the songs I like starts off with 'Oh brother, let's go down,' but now we have to put our 'sisters' first don't we!

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, well that is something for Australians and Pacific people to think about. I wonder how she will get on at the South Pacific Forum and in meeting up with Pacific leaders eh! Bye-bye Kevin Rudd, who conceded his growing unpopularity in as Labour caucus meeting this morning. Maybe he is a Nice man but he made too many mistakes it seems. Hey Julie, you don't need so much make-up. Keep it simple.

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way !

O sisters let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O sisters let's go down,
Down in the river to pray.
And, later after watching the news:
We belong to a Fijian group that worships at Altona Meadows/Laverton which is right in the heart of Julia Gillard's electorate and her main office is in Werribee. Congratulations to Julia who is from this working class area. She says that she will continue to live n Altona rather than the Lodge in Canberra but wait and see as she will need a place to rest her head in that city. Isa, poor Kevin shed a tear, and he is a basically good man, so politics is rather brutal isn't it!

Crime Free Balloons

from w
I just wonder what is the connection between balloons and Crime Free Labasa? I wonder if the balloons lasted until the little kiddies reached their homes.
From today's Fiji Sun
Free balloons for kids
Students of the Labasa Jesses Play Centre Kindergarten received colourful balloons from the Labasa crime-free zone one committee yesterday. The kindergarten has a roll of 47 students.

Committee treasure, Charlie Chow, said the committee decided to give away balloons to signify the start of the crime-free campaign. “We used the balloons at the declaration of the Labasa crime-free day,” said Mr Chow. He said that since the kindergarten was in the Labasa crime-free zone one area, the committee wanted to work together and create awareness among young children.

Kindergarten teacher, Jotika Dutt, thanked the committee for its donation. She said their students did not attend the event at Subrail Park last week because of heavy rain.

Five-year-old, Rani Shivran was among students who received balloons.
“I will take the balloon home and explained to my parents what the Labasa crime-free declaration is all about,” Shivran said.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Scaring the kids with a fake prophecy

from w
I get a bit mad at the kind of people who scare the kids and the community by talking about specific times and places for disaster. We do get frightened by talk of tsunamis and earthquakes when we know that people who live in islands on the 'Pacific Rim' may occasionally experience a shift in the plates.

I'm not into the 'End of Times' or the 'Second Coming' or being zapped up into heaven and so on. So when I read about a certain Mr Lion (Laeoni) from some unknown church in Nadi airport putting out an email with something about 2.30 p.m. today, my blood pressure goes up. Not that I'm against some people who may be gifted and have insight into strange phenonema perhaps but... Not that I'm scared myself, but I know that in Fiji lots of the children were, some families going up the hillsides in a panic, some not going to school today.

What was interesting was that the so-called prophet is spending today in the gaol, and Bill Gavoka, the Rugby guy, also had his call-up for twenty-four hours. Well, that's life in Fiji. The Fiji Times did not run the story but it was in some of the other media as follows:

DISMAC will stick to science says Dobui
June 23, 2010 07:46:18 AM
Fiji’s disaster management agency DISMAC will stick to professional advice instead of so-called prophecies when it comes to warnings of natural disasters says the agency’s acting director Pajiliai Dobui.

Commenting on a widely-circulated prophecy about an earthquake and tsunami striking Fiji today, Dobui said there had been nothing detected by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTC) in Hawaii, which issues tsunami alerts for the region.

“We will depend on our machines,” Dobui told FijiLive.

“We’ll wait for instructions from Hawaii,” he said.

“We’ll only take any action from PTC. We’re not going to be moved by anything else on what course of action we’d like to take.”

“It’s much safer to depend on professional advice as against the prophecy which has nothing credible that we can depend upon.”

“The prophecy is more for church people to pray for the nation. We’ll go by technical advice.”

Fiji Rugby Union chairman Bill Gavoka has been arrested and questioned in relation to an email about the prophecy, with other arrests reportedly due over the matter, said to be in breach of Fiji’s Public Emergency Regulations which make it a crime to cause any kind of public disturbance.

The prophesy of disruptions
Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Many are laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, but a substantial number of people remain concerned about the so-called prophesy that an earthquake will hit Suva at 2.30 pm today.

There were many calls to FBC News this morning asking whether schools and other services would remain open, and many business leaders have expressed frustration with the disruption and sense of gloom.

Yesterday, one of the biggest primary schools in the country even conducted a tsunami drill. Tsunami drills are held regularly in schools near the coast, but it was not lost on many of the students that the drill was held a day before the tsunami was pronounced to happen.

Teachers from a boarding school in Tailevu called Nausori Police Station to clarify the issue, as parents were turning up to pick up their children.

The Public Service Commission issued a warning this morning for all civil servants to turn up to work.

Our reporter traveling with a government delegation in Rotuma called to say that reports were coming in from the islands that some people were actually relocating to higher ground.

However, many things will be revealed today.

First on the so-called prophet, who will either prove that God indeed spoke to him, or forever be condemned and ridiculed as a false prophet and a liar.

It will also show if the people of Fiji remain so gullible, that any religious leader who professes to have seen a vision, will be able to cause anxiety throughout the country and cause disruptions.

For those of you who remain anxious, there has been no tsunami warning given by the Fiji Meteorological Office or predicted by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii.

As for earthquakes, no scientist or prophet in history has been able to predict when an earthquake will occur.

In fact, about 50 earthquakes are recorded everyday, but not felt by anyone.

A 5.5 magnitude earthquake was recorded west of Tonga and east of Moala at 10.15 this morning but the Fiji Met Office says it is too small to generate any disruption.

Authorities are warning people against furthering the rumours, and those found doing so will be taken to task.

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fiji magazines

from w.
Peceli brought me four magazines from his recent trip to Fiji - Marama, Turaga, MaiLife and a new one to me entitled Juice which is not quite my cup of tea but is meant for teenagers. All magazines are colourful, informative, and worth the few dollars they cost. Marama and Turaga have real life stories and promote multi-culturalism. Their website will provide more information. MaiLIfe June issue has a lot about the soccer in South Africa and also uses stories that have previously been published in the Fiji papers (and also on this blog), but the paper is shiny, the pictures very good, the stories well-told. The cover of the most recent Marama magazine is a dancer from the Vou Dance Company who have energised traditional dance with modern concepts. Way to go!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Viti Levu blacked out?

frmo w
I was astonished to read on Fijivillage that the whole island of Viti Levu is without electricity. Does that mean lights, computers, phones, water, all of it?
Maybe computers on batteries are still working.
Viti Levu without power
Publish date/time: 19/06/2010 [16:57]
Entire Viti Levu is currently without power supply.

The Fiji Electricity Authority Customer Care center confirmed that their engineers are now combing the grids in the Western and Central division to try and locate the cause of the black out.

They said there is no time frame at this stage as to when power supply will be restored.

FEA CEO Hasmukh Patel could not be reached for a comment.

Meanwhile the current Power blackout on Viti Levu is expected to cause disruptions for most parts of Viti Levu.

The Fiji water Authority Spokesperson Maika Nagalu said the power shutdown may affect their treatment plants and residents on Viti Levu are being advised to store water now if there is water still running in your taps.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

More photos from Fiji of babasiga people

from Peceli
I had a bumpy trip from Labasa today in fog, plenty of turbulance and the plane had to circle twice before landing in Nausori. Anyway here are some recent photos.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kioa and Kia

from w.
Both Kia and Kioa are islands off the coast of Vanua Levu but they are quite different. Kia is west of Mali, offshore from Macuata and the people are traditional fishermen and women and Kioa is off Cakaudrove next to Rabi Island and the people migrated from Tuvalu many years ago. Kioa is an outlier to Vanua Levu, situated opposite Buca Bay, Kioa is a freehold by settlers from Tuvalu, who came between 1947 and 1983. Kioa is one of two islands in Fiji populated by South Sea Islanders, the other being Rabi, also in the Vanua Levu Group and home to a displaced Banaban community. The people of Kioa have a very good website.

Some of the youth from Kioa are in the Labasa area this week. So here is more 'soft' news from one of the Fiji papers.
From Fiji Sun
Rally unites North youths
A multiracial youth rally was organised by the Kioa Island Youth Group in Vunivau, Labasa, last weekend. With the launching of Labasa crime-free town in the next few days, the group decided to have the rally to promote unity. It was attended by Tuvaluan youths from different communities, Banabans and itaukei.

The youths were from Vunivau and surrounding areas. They performed religious items, chorus singing, drama, cultural and island dances. It was a one-day event and a volleyball competition was organised in the afternoon.

Kioa group member, Lawrence Nikotemo, said it was the first time such a combined youth rally was held. “The rally is to create awareness among youths about the declaration of crime-free event,” he said.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Peceli's photos from Fiji

from w
Two emails just came through with some photos from Peceli's trip to Fiji, no titles or descriptions so I'm guessing that some are from Koroipita village, tribewanted in Vorovoro, some from Vatuadova, some visiting chaplains and others in Suva. Peceli can edit this post later on when he gets back to Australia. Three emails just didn't get through so I don't know what's wrong with the communications system in Fiji


Coffee and cake

from w
I think it's time Peceli came back to Australia from Fiji before I get as round as a tub. He will motivate me to walk or get on the exercise bike! In his absence theres been too much coffee and cake and talking in cafes, this time with Christine M at a cafe in Torquay this afternoon. It's a holiday today, Queen's Birthday, but the cafes are open because of the tourists.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The humble wi fruit

from w
I watched an amazing program on TV today SBS 'The first flower' showing two ways of researching the evolution of plants - one from the rocks in a distant place in China and the other looking at DNA. They came to the conclusion that the very earliest flowering plant was - the anbarella - which is the Fiji wi! Another very ancient flowering plant was arcti frucus and from these nearly all flowering plants developed over millions of years. They said the ambarella came from New Caledonia but of course it is in several Pacific islands.

So I looked up the web and came up with two pieces, one from Tuwawa in New Zealand.
Oldest Known Flowering Plants Identified By Genes
By William J. Cromie
Gazette Staff
It’s a nondescript shrub with small, unimpressive flowers, and it’s found in only one place in the world – New Caledonia, a minor tropical island in a remote corner of the southwest Pacific. But it has suddenly catapulted to botanical eminence as a key piece in the puzzle of the origins of flowering plants.

Called Amborella, the plant is the one remaining species of a lineage that first appeared on Earth more than 140 million years ago, while dinosaurs still ruled the planet. The other flowering plants, from which it branched, evolved and diversified until they came to dominate Earth at about the same time as the mammalian ancestors of humans were replacing dinosaurs. Flowering plants now number 250,000 different species, including virtually all the vegetables and grains we eat, as well as most of the food of the animals that we consume.

"It’s difficult to imagine a world without flowering plants," says Michael Donoghue, professor of biology at Harvard University. As a result of analyzing the genes from all flowering plants suspected of being among the world’s oldest, Donoghue and research associate Sarah Mathews concluded that Amborella and water lilies are the first two branches on the family tree of flowering plants.

Mathews and Donoghue’s analysis revealed that another early branch includes Austrobaileya, a group represented by one species found only in Australia, and by the more common star anise, which boasts bright red, saucer-shaped flowers.

Tracing flowering plants back so close to their roots ranks as one of the major botanical discoveries of this century. "We knew Amborella was a possible candidate, but to actually pin it down after decades of speculation was a cause for great excitement," Donoghue says. "One of the wonderful things is that three other teams of scientists have come up with the same result."

The other scientists did different types of genetic analyses at universities in the United States, Canada, and Switzerland. Mathews and Donoghue published their results first, in the Oct. 29 issue of the U.S. journal Science. Two other teams published their findings in the Nov. 25 issue of the British journal Nature.

Despite these new findings, plenty of mysteries remain. None of the analyses reveals when the first flowering plant appeared on Earth. Amborella is not the first one but, rather, a representative of the first branch from that unknown ancestor.

Sometime before 140 million years ago, flowering plants, known as angiosperms, diverged from nonflowering seed plants known as gymnosperms. Biologists imagine a tree of life with different groups of animals or plants as branches. Flowering plants branched off from within the branch of seed plants. The first branch within flowering plants separated Amborella from all the rest. Etc.

Copyright 1999 President and Fellows of Harvard College
Wi (Spondias dulcia)
This tree bears yummy fruit that can be eaten and can grow to a height of 60 feet. Many of us Fijians who grew up in Fiji will remember the wi season when it is plentiful in the markets and also in the forests. You can smell the ripe wi when you get closer to the wi tree. The fruits can be sour when its green, but when its ripe it is sweet and juicy. In the past, the pressed liquid from the stem or bark is used for treatment. In Tahiti, parts of the plant are made in fermented drink to treat diarrhea. In Tonga, the pressed fluid from the bark is used to treat diarrhea.

One of the major uses of the wi is for the strengthening of mothers after the weakness of childbirth. It is also useful for the cleansing of bowels. It also promote sterility, and fish poisoning and is a great remedy for cataracts (eye). Next time you are eating a "wi" fruit, keep in mind the many uses of this plant,which our people used hundreds of years ago.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Another babasiga birthday

from W
Mo marau ni siga ni sucu, babasiga boy, born at Labasa Hospital 12 June a long time ago. His cousin was born two days later so the kids were nicknamed 'Bibi' and 'Bebe'.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Qawa River

Rakesh Kumar beside the Qawa River in Labasa
from w
I'm sure I've written about the Qawa River about ten times and still there are stories of the pollution from the Labasa Sugar Mill. Here's another one in today's Fiji Times. The good news is that young people are complaining and testing the water. Good on you, All Saints Secondary School students. As in my previous post about the planning for a bauxite mine in Bua, there are trade-offs - industry and a clean environment, but where is the balance?

Man from Qawa River
Maneesha Karan
Friday, June 11, 2010
RAKESH Kumar first encountered the Northern Division's biggest environmental tragedy when he began his secondary education at All Saints Secondary School 12 years ago.A dux during his school days, Rakesh promised himself he would help bring justice to the students and people settled in the area by finding a resolution to Qawa River - which continues to be heavily polluted.

"We used to breathe the stench everyday at school for six months since the beginning of the crushing season in June.

"I used to wonder why the respective stakeholders and authorities weren't taking any action against the pollution. It was affecting our livelihood," Mr Kumar said.

Such an experience and unjust treatment of the environment influenced Rakesh's career path. He went through the Fiji School of Medicine, and was awarded a scholarship to study engineering in public health at an Australian university. Now an environmentalist and public health official, Mr Kumar seems to be nearing his goal to finding a resolution - a case on polluting the Qawa River stands before the Labasa Court.

"The environment is closely related with public health and we would like to help conserve the environment for the best interest of the people.

"The hardest part so far was the complaint received from the principal of All Saints Secondary School. Following that we conducted a survey in 2008 with 1000 students of the school and it was appaling to discover that nearly all the students showed signs of dizziness, nausea, and headache.

"Students' lives are negatively affected and as a result this also impacts their education. Students and those living on the river banks were suffering and I decided something had to be done."

People are desperately waiting for a solution, Mr Kumar said. "Every year during the sugar cane crushing season, the river turns ink black and the marine life disappears. Studies have found the sugar mill discharges huge amount of chemicals into the river."

Industries are important for an economy's development, Rakesh said, but it was unfair to trade public health for an economy's success. "Having industries is beneficial to the economy but there are measures and regulations the companies should heed to control waste disposal. We want to bring Qawa River back as a relaxation place for family outings, where people can once again swim and fish," Mr Kumar said. "People want to have a river which is safe and free from pollutants."

Mr Kumar is being nominated in the Pride of Fiji's Environment Medal category.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Is mining better than forests?

from w
I was talking with some people lately about the proposed bauxite mining and they were quite worried about the effects upon the environmnent. What feasability studies have been made about the expected effects upon the rivers there. Someone said mines like that pollute the water and kill the fish so what about villagers who live a subsistence life and need their protein? Development projects are fine in Fiji as long as there is consideration of the impact of these projects on the local people.

From reading items in the Fiji media including Fiji radio it seems they want to hurry up and cut the pine plantations in Nawailevu area in Bua. I think trees are much nicer than mines.

Some considerations about the possible impact upon the environment are presented in various website, one of which is:
PDF] Environmental problems related to bauxite mining and processingFile Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
to bauxite mining and processing. With emphasis on biodiversity and water ... Release of heavy metals causes pollution of food chain ...

And, points about the environmental concerns can be found on the following website. If these are carefully considered and found to be okay, then the bauxite mine should go ahead. It's to send to China. Of course.
Aurum Exploration (Fiji) Ltd a subsidiary of Xinfa Huaya Alumina Co Ltd has identified a significant bauxite resource near Nawailevu, Bua which it proposes ... -

Wedding photos of babasiga girl

from w
Courtesy of my grandson, here are three photos from the marriage ceremony last Saturday in Lautoka. Congratulations Komai and Wendy Junior. Hey J. your photos are better than Grandpa's! I'll post more photos if they come to hand via email from Fiji!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Youth from Labasa with a mission

Naseakula youths offer their vakamalolo sevu to elders of Naseakula Village before they journey to Levuka. Picture: THERESA RALOGAIVAU

from w
What a good idea that young people from Labasa have taken the initiative to do something constructive to visit another place with their message of hope. The tauvu relationship is here more than jokes and teasing.

Mission to save livesTheresa Ralogaivau
Tuesday, June 08, 2010

MEMBERS of a youth group from Labasa are ready to set sail for the old capital in the noblest of missions - to help save youths of a village on the island from a world of crime and drugs through peer bonding. Around 50 youths from the Labasa Methodist Circuit intend to do this through cultural songs, meke (traditional dances) and the word of God.

According to circuit youth leader Kinijoji Drauna, they intend to be an example, showing the youths of Natokalau Village on Ovalau that it is a wonderful, learning and saving experience to be part of a youth group. The group that has been practising and fundraising for the trip for several weeks presented its meke to elders of the circuit as a sevu to seek blessings for the journey.

"We see that youths are crowding up prisons and even St Giles, some are caught up in crime, others are listless meaning they don't seem to have a sense of purpose, there is drunkenness and we are concerned," he said. "Most of our youths are from Nasekula Village so we represent the circuit. We find that belonging to a youth group is a good thing because we can help each other withstand peer pressure, learning good skills and there is companionship because a young person's life can be the most trying time.

"A member of the group is from Natokalau and she observed that interest in youth groupings isn't the same back home so we decided to contact church leaders at the village to allow us to come across so we could have a youth rally there."

The rally would also be a venue of cross cultural exchange of traditional meke and songs.

The Natokalau youth group will be hosted in Labasa later this year.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Diversity in Labasa

from w
In Labasa with the mix of cultures, there are often religious celebrations, and two took place in the past week. Diversity is acceptable in such a multicultural society. Here are two stories from the Fiji Times today.

Journey of long faith starts at nine
Theresa Ralogaivau
Monday, June 07, 2010
Nine-year-olds take part in Holy Communion at the Labasa Catholic church yesterday
TWENTY-four nine-year olds began a new walk in their faith when they partook in Holy Communion for the first time yesterday at the Labasa Catholic Parish. The parish was packed as the faithful celebrated another step in the children's journey with Christ.

Father John Joseph Ryan urged the children never to forget the day they first received Holy Communion which is an important day in their lives. "The church is the body of Christ and the church celebrates this in the Eucharist," he said. "The Eucharist is a meal in which we remember what Christ is and what he did when he gave up his life and was resurrected. That is remembered in the Eucharist so for the first time today these children are receiving the fullness of Christ." The children were prepared over several weeks to understand the importance of Holy Communion. "From now on they must show the face of Christ, compassionate love, mercy, goodness, kindness in the way they live and behave," he said.

And the second story from the Fiji Times today:

Act of submission to the Gods
Theresa Ralogaivau
Monday, June 07, 2010
Hundreds of believers lie face down on the streets of Labasa in the annual procession of 'Ratha Yatra'
HUNDREDS of Hindu devotees braved the scorching sun and burning tarsealed road lying face down along the main street of Labasa in an act of total submission as the chariot of Lord Venkateshwara and goddess Lakshmi passed over them. They believed once the chariot passed over all their sins would be washed away. The annual procession of Ratha Yatra always attracts thousands, those that are fascinated by the long line of believers face down along the street, songs, and dances to the beat of the melam and the musical sahanai aside from the worshippers themselves.

Rajesh Guruji explained the Ratha Yatra procession is part of the Festival of Brahamotsavam. The Ratha Yatra procession begins from the Sangam Temple where the deities are taken out and placed on a chariot and travels through town before returning to the temple. "When the chariot passes over the devotees I sprinkle a mixture of flour and turmeric powder over them to cleanse them," he said."We go through town so that everyone receives blessings. Lying face down is an act of total submission to the deities, offering themselves to the gods and whatever sins they have committed so that they can be renewed."

Saturday, June 05, 2010

What about a Bula Sia Festival?

from w
On a cold morning in Australia I read about the warm babasiga land and what Tui Macuata has to say about culture. Looks like he wants a kind of Bula Sia Festival to remind people of culture which may be disappearing. Which aspects of Fijian culture are the best to continue, and which actually needs to disappear? From my observations, many of the customs still take place. Anyway, a festival is usually a good thing as long as money is spent on the right purposes. Respect is the word for most situations, respect for families, elders and the needs also of children.
From Fiji Times today:

To keep their cultureTheresa Ralogaivau
Sunday, June 06, 2010

TO avoid a situation where they become strangers in their own land, Macuata chiefs have resolved to take cultural preservation to a new level. Following the footsteps taken by the people of Bua, Macuata is also proposing to stage a festival to showcase different cultural dances and songs, and other traditional habits unique to its 12 districts.

Roko Tui Macuata Sitiveni Lalibuli said cultural erosion had reached a state in the province with many habits fast dying out due to non use.

A provincial office delegation led by Mr Lalibuli attended the Bula Re Festival of arts and culture in Bua. "The Fijian race is the most unique in the world because when a baby is born he already belong to a certain mataqali, vanua, province and will inherit certain amount of land and so forth," he said. "Additionally the habits and cultural practices clearly set the indigenous race apart. "But the distinction is becoming blurry as most indigenous live the modern way and have forgotten their traditions and cultural practices and very soon will become strangers in their own land."

Sevu or offering of the first crop to chiefs and traditional rulers is also being enforced in the districts. Mr Lalibuli said these were habits that were once religiously practised but were hardly observed these days.
May I be presumptuous and suggest that they go further than the usual mekes, speeches, and good food. Have workshops on the history of Macuata, get school children to interview old people and collect chants wuch as veitiqa (throwing) or how to choose a bride or groom throwing oranges, look at local dialects, look at local medicine trees. How many Macuata girls and boys (or their parents) have read the following book:
Histoire de Macuata : d'apres un manuscrit trouve a la mission catholique de Nabala, Macuata = History of Macuata : from a manuscript found in the Catholic mission, Nabala, Macuata / edited by Francoise Gardere and David Routledge
Book Bib ID 668274
Format Book
Description Suva, Fiji : Service culturel de l'Ambassade de France, c1991.
xviii, 78 p. : facsim., maps ; 21 cm.
Notes Parallel text in French and English.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 76) and index.
Subjects Oral tradition - Fiji. | Macuata (Fiji) - History. | Fiji - History.
Other Authors Routledge, David | Gardere, Francoise, 1949-

Or for that matter, read bits of a thesis at USP on the music and vanua of Labasa? There are plenty of chants and songs in that one. Ha ha.

Friday, June 04, 2010

To Wendy and Komai

from Wendy Senior,
Have a very happy day Wendy Junior and Komai. May your marriage ceremony this morning in Lautoka be blessed with lots of joy, laughter and happiness. I remember you as a few days old, tiny but surviving, in a Melbourne hospital, and now you have grown into a beautiful young woman. Komai is a lucky man.

For a story about Wendy Junior, go to 'Happy birthday Wendy' posted on Babasiga on January 17 2008.

(Here's one photo taken at the wedding in Latuoka from inside the vakatuknaloa.)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Happy birthday

from w
The music 'Barcarolle' is playing on SBS TV and reminds me of the soft times when our children were little and life was carefree. Many years ago, June 4th, at Ba hospital in Fiji a bright little baby boy was born, the delight of his parents. Two more boys added to the family. Enough said, I don't want to embarrass the young man. One of the photos was taken at Nukutatava when it was like a park, when Papa and Mama were visiting.

However today I was thinking of Rakiraki and the three years we had there in the late 60s. While watching a very dark film about Sylvia Plath on TV this afternoon, I decided to write a poem and realized that my life has been mainly sunlight, not shadows.

It was a different country then
below the Kauvadra,
our cement block manse
coloured aqua, pink,orange.

Outside two piglets rooted
under a broad mango tree,
Kanakana and Lesumai.
A near-blind woman brought
cassava peelings for them
and then yarned with Nau
over sweet tea and pancakes.

The pretty girl from across the road,
her hands painted with henna
married with a rainbow splendour
under the shining canopy.

The village next door blessed us
with jokes and stories
the rooftops of reed,
the walls of plaited bamboo.

Our first child was a gift
then another son soon after.
Amidst sugarcane fields
dotted with houses of tin and dung,
the farmers with little money
offered gulagula and spiced tea
as our babies slept,
one in a cradle of sugar bags.

But there was a march one day
with ominous hand-painted banners,
men as warriors, faces blackened.
I didn't think much of it then,
that year before independence.

To me it was all sunlight
without a hint of shadows,
it was a different country then.