Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Fiji Day

Best wishes to friends of Fiji for today - Fiji Day.

Fiji Day and remembering Rakiraki

We remember when Fiji became independent in 1970. There were celebrations throughout Fiji. We were in Rakiraki and there was a formal function there. Some of the children from the local Methodist Primary school where Peceli was the chairman sang 'This land is your land', (Woody Guthrie song) appropriate for Fiji. I taught them new words. An old Indian man got excited, jumped on stage and danced bhagra style.

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From Suva Harbour to Yasawa Islands.
from the raintree forest to the Rewa delta
This land was made for you and me.
As I went walking along King’s Highway
I saw above me the golden canefields
I saw below me the curve of beaches
This land was made for you and me

It was an optimistic time. Hmmm. Those were the days, my friend... The days when there was respect and optimism and Ratu Kamisese Mara was at the helm.

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.

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