Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Romanu a top cop for the job in Fiji

from w
An excellent man, smart, generous, and knowledgable, Romanu starts work next week in Fiji as the new Police Commissioner.
from Fijilive
It’s a challenge: Tikotikoca
Thursday February 01, 2007

Fiji’s incoming Police Commissioner Romanu Tikotikoca expects a tough encounter when he officially takes up his new appointment soon. He is currently meeting the Constitutional Offices Commission to discuss his new role. Tikotikoca is most likely to start work next week. He said he is determined to carry out his duty diligently for the betterment of the nation.

Speaking to Fijilive this morning, Tikotikoca said he was ready to take up the challenge. "Of course I would have to get a briefing from my senior officers first before I actually begin on what path to take. "It won’t be easy but I am confident with the support of the Force," he said.

Tikotikoca will succeed Lieutenant Colonel Jimi Koroi, who will now be assisting in investigations into allegations of corruption prepared by the military following complaints from the public.

Tikotikoca resigned from the Fiji police to take up an appointment as head of security at the Gold Ridge Mine in the Solomon Islands over a year ago. He had also served with the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

Spinning like a top - Elizabeth Keenan's article

Check out p 44 of ?Time February 5 2007, a spin on the military coup in Fiji or here.

One year since we started the babasiga blog

from w
Twelve months have gone by and bit by bit we learnt how to post pictures, place in links, etc. Have we wasted out time though? Peceli was keen for a few months and posted and now he seems to have left it to me! Sobosobo! The initial purpose was to promote Macuata/Labasa/babasiga with good news, but it is not always so in Vanua Levu or for that matter, Fiji as a whole.

Anyway the second blog, mainly about Geelong, developed later on and at least it got me back to the easel.

I wonder sometimes am I talking to meself and/or to strangers and some cheeky ones who post as 'anonymous'. Perhaps I should instead be going out into the streets and lanes of Geelong, visiting the sick and lonely.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Snake God Temple near Labasa

from w
Peceli picked up a travel book, 'Across the South Pacific' from the shelf and browsed through a chapter about Labasa and I read it also. A family touring the Pacific had written about their adventures including staying in Labasa. This was about 20 years ago. Paul Jaduram is in the story and hey, you never know where your words and stories will end up!

Excerpt by Iain Finlay and Trish Sheppard - from their visit to Labasa where they stayed at the Takia Hotel and met Paul Jaduram. This is the writer's interpretation of a visit to a Hindu temple at Matailabasa.

Paul stopped the car at a small Hindu temple by the roadside. 'This is the Temple of the Snake,' he said. 'A very sacred place for Indians here.'

It was a small unimpressive building of cement which looked more like a little suburban house than a temple. It had been painted in rather garish colours. At the doorway we slipped our shoes off and left them outside while we stepped into the one main room of the building. It was almost filled from floor to ceiling with a huge, natural rock. In fact the whole structure had been erected over and around the rock, which quite clearly resembled a giant cobra with its head upright and its hood spread wide.

'The story is that the stone is growing,' Paul said quietly. 'People come from all over Fiji - and even from Indian, to see it. They believe that it can perform all manner of miracles, from curing sickness, to bringing rain for their crops. It is famous throughout Fiji as a rain god and it's also supposed to bring babies to sterile couples!'

We circled around the great figure for a few minutes, watching several sari-clad Indian women, placing incense sticks in sand containers and pressing their palms together in silent supplication to the Snake God.

'My grandmother used to bring me here,' Paul whispered. 'She told me all the stories about it… because she believed it…every bit of it. She was very traditional in her ways. She came to Fiji when she was only eleven.'

We had moved around the stone and back out onto the small verandah where we began to put our shoes back on. 'Did all of her family come at the same time?' I asked.

'Oh, no. None of them came. She was pinched from her village in India…kidnapped.'

'But why?' Trish said, amazed. 'Surely not to work here.'

'No, of course not. As a bride.'

'A bride! At eleven!'

'Yes. There were so many men who were coming here as labourers that there was a flourishing black market in illicit child brides.'

But couldn't her family do anything?'

'They never knew what happened to her. She never saw them, or heard of them again.'

'But how terrible. What happened to her? Obviously things turned out reasonably in the end because you're here…and..well, as you said, she used to bring you to the temple and so on. Did she stay married to the same man?'

'Yes. And eventually, after this period of indenture was over, they grew to be very rich and influential. It is a real success story.'

Obviously there is much more to a story like that but there's no doubt that the original Jadurams on Vanua Levu made the best of a bad job because the name Jaduram is all over the town of Labasa. There are streets named after various members of the family. Jaduram office buildings, cinemas, and also creches, which the old lady, Paul's grandmother founded and ran for Indian women in poorer situations than she. She was quite obviously a remarkable woman, and it was equally obvious that Paul thought so too and, for all his Western ways, gave the strong impression that he shared his grandmother's beliefs in the power of the Snake God.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Dear Mr Prime Minister - please save our little fishes

from w.
in today's Fiji Times
It's so strange these days that every grievance goes to the military - pollution and bad company practice regarding the environment - well, it's been going on for years, and no-one ever does much about it. Anyway, someone near Malau Timber Mill has written a letter to the self-appointed Prime Minister. My word, won't be be busy answering all these letters. Some complain about neighbours/colleagues/spouses. At least this one from Labasa ought to be answered by some-one! I would like to hear FFI's response to the complaint.

Certainly there is pollution in the waters off Labasa and people also throw things overboard from boats between Mali Island and the mainland. When I walked along the shore west of Nukutatava I noticed rubbish caught up in the mangroves. Isa lei, it should be a pristine shore environment.

I've written in an early post about the pollution caused by the Labasa Sugar Mill in the Qawa River and the science students of All Saints Secondary have been monitoring the situation.

Landowners seek PM's intervention
1205 FJT
Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Update: 12.05pm A landowning unit has sought the intervention of the interim Prime Minister to stop a timber company from killing their marine resources. The landowners from Malau, outside Labasa town, claim Fiji Forest Industries has been spilling chemicals into the sea nearby, resulting in the death of fish, seashells and other marine life they depend on for their survival.

The landowners say they had written to Prime Minister, Commander Voreqe Bainimarama, requesting his intervention in the matter. They claim the issue had been raised with the relevant authorities during the past eight years but nothing had been done about it.

The landowners are hopeful Commander Bainimarama will address their grievance.

The chief executive officer in the Prime Minister's office is in a meeting and will not be available to comment until later this afternoon.

Questions have been sent to FFI for their comment.

Are there land snakes in Fiji?

from w
Are there land snakes in Fiji?

Well, one day we found one up a tree at Nukutatava Beach. It was such an unusual find that we took it to All Saints High School to show the science teacher. That was the only time I ever saw a snake in Fiji though the mythology of snakes certainly persists with the story of Degei in the Kauvadra mountains and the Indian temple out of Labasa which is dedicated to a snake.

Anyway, Dr Paddy Ryan writes about the Fijian Burrowing Snake (bolo), Ogmodon vitianus.

One of the myths perpetuated in Fiji even by people who should know better is the mongoose myth…... As with most myths, even modern ones, there is a grain of truth in the story. We do have a terrestrial venomous snake, which must come as a bit of a shock to those people who claim that Fiji is snake-free apart from the pacific boa. What is even more surprising is that the snake is an elapid. In other words it belongs to the same family as the Indian cobra and the Australian taipan. Never fear though, until recently less than twenty specimens of this snake, Ogmodon vitianus were known to science.

From the records of the early naturalists we knew that Ogmodon, bolo in Fijian, was probably a burrowing snake. As a result it would be very rarely seen even if it was quite common. Its burrowing nature was confirmed when a specimen, found a metre down in soapstone rubble, was brought into the Fiji Museum. Unfortunately, the owner would neither let colleague John Gibbons nor me photograph the snake. To add insult to injury the snake escaped from its container and was probably snapped up by a passing mongoose. John Gibbons though was a very persistent man and he launched a one-man "find Ogmodon" campaign throughout central Vitilevu. In time he was successful, a juvenile about 15cm long was brought into the Biology Department at the University of the South Pacific by a villager from the interior. Juvenile bolo can be distinguished from the adults by the possession of a cream chevron between the eyes. Juveniles are also darker than adults, almost black compared with a smokey-grey. Unfortunately this specimen soon died, almost certainly from dehydration, although neither of us realised it then.

Two Fiji animals - the bold and the beautiful

from w
The pastel picture is too big to scan in one piece (more than A3) so I'm afraid I scanned it as four sections. Sorry. A mongoose and a little lizard. One is bold and the other is beautiful!

(added later)
There are at least two kinds of iguanas in Fiji, the brachylophus fasciatus which is blue and the brachylophus vitiensis which is green and white and crested and can change colour. Their ancestors may have drifted to Fiji from South America.

The small Indian mongoose was introduced to Fiji, so they say, to get rid of the snakes in the sugar-cane fields. But that is a myth, according to Dr Paddy Ryan who says it was introduced to get rid of rats. They say that a pair were brought from Calcutta in 1883 after the failure to breed them from 1870. The mongoose has a suitable name in my opinion - Herpestes javanicus as it is certainly a pest in Fiji. Mongeese often stole the eggs from our chickens when we lived in Vatuadova near Labasa, and I've seen them running in and out of a cafe in Labasa town. It’s a predator of birds, small mammals and reptiles so iguanas are at risk from mongeese. They even eat the eggs of sea turtles. They live to be about four years. This species has been nominated as among 100 of the "World's Worst" invaders.

There is a children’s story about the mongoose and the iguana by Ann Mason 2006 and she has given three optional endings. The website is intended for discussion by children.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A very old photo from Lelean Memorial School

from w
Does anyone recognize any of the meke dancers from this photo taken many years ago at Lelean Memorial School at their 21st birthday celebration. Perhaps in 1964?
The boys are performing a vakamalolo sitting dance and a teacher, Dau Autiko, is in the middle.

Ecrea gives voice to their view of Fiji's situation

from w

ECREA keen to work with interim Govt
Sunday January 28, 2007

from one of the Fiji papers today (can't remember which one) This is from the Ecumenical Centre for Research Education and Advocacy - good guys and smart. They did not approve of the coup, but now want things to move ahead to get it right. My views generally co-incide with the things they say. I think the title in the newspaper is misleading - I don't know whether they are 'keen to work with interim Govt' but rather - 'Okay, let's move forward in the best way we can.'

A Non-Government Organisation which promotes social justice says it’s willing to work with the Interim Administration appointed by Fiji’s President on the understanding that democratic rule is restored as soon as possible.

The director for the Ecumenical Centre for Research Education and Advocacy (ECREA), Mikaele Bulavakarua said the Interim Administration must also be held accountable to the vision it proposed for Fiji.

ECREA welcomed the return of executive authority to the President after the December 5 coup.

Bulavakarua said the NGO recognised the appointment of the Interim Administration is a critical step towards the return of parliamentary democracy.

However, he said ECREA deeply regretted the illegal overthrow of the democratically elected government and the legal and constitutional difficulties that have arisen since the takeover.

Bulavakarua called for an immediate end to all forms of human rights abuses and the need for a tangible timeline for a return to democracy through free and fair elections.

He called on the Interim Administration to clarify the continued presence of the military and the ambiguity surrounding the State of Emergency.

ECREA also expressed concern about the lack of evidence provided to the people about corruption investigations that saw the abrupt removal of certain people from their employment.

The organisation also called on interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry to resign as secretary of the National Farmers Union.

Bulavakarua also said ECREA recognised that under the former government, democratic processes had been manipulated.

He said despite opposition through democratic means like submissions, dialogue, the elected government failed to reconsider its racially divisive legislation and the impact of its economic decision on the ordinary people.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Now they want people to retire at 55

from w
The next step of the Interim guys in Fiji is to reduce the size of the civil service so they want to make civil servants retire at 55. At present it is 60. There's one good reason in my mind regarding teachers, and that is to give the new graduates a chance to get a job. But on the other hand some teachers, nurses, doctors, administrators at 55 are still doing an excellent job.

Okay, if people want to retire at 55 (and perhaps they do get a small - or - large pension) but some people love their job, and also have on-going financial obligations so that to retire makes their whole life difficult.

Of course some might want to sit and watch the sun rise and the sun set each day as they order round the young ones to do their fetching and carrying!

It is good to change direction about that age - take on voluntary work, community work, farming or gardening, art or music, go back to tertiary studies, or even activism. I'm sure that some of the outspoken men and women in Fiji are near or past 55!

Of course it makes some positions in Fiji look a little odd if 55 is considered your use-by date for a job. Hmmm. The office of the President comes to mind!

Some parents are helicopter parents

from w
I wonder how many Fiji parents are like helicopters, hovering over their precious children, watching their every move, taking their lunches at midday to them, doing their homework for them? I guess parents need to give their children space some of the time to make their own decisions, to experience failure, the consequences of bad decisions, to be realistic and resilient.

Helicopter parents

Some American and Australian parents are tracking their children in a device in their shoes or a tracking device around their necks. When you're not with them, you can be comforted by their red blip on your screen. When they move out of their designated safe zones, your child can be reeled back into the sanitised world and therefore bypass any chance of imagination-stimulating adventure.

And what is helicopter parenting?

Parents who, even with their teens boarding at uni, drive two hours to tidy their dorms and do their laundry. They hover over their children, whether young, teenage, or adult!

Imagine the ramifications of tracking devices and helicopter parents on Huck Finn. He and Jim would never have built their raft and sailed the Mississippi. And Alice might never have followed the white rabbit down the hole under the hedge, and there wouldn't have been a Famous Five or Secret Seven. Had Dorothy been attached to a tracking device, Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter would never have had the freedom to stumble through the winter coats into Narnia.

Notes adapted from
Kids denied 'real world' lessons By Cheryl Critchley January 05, 2007 12:00am Melbourne

Well-meaning parents are smothering children by over-protecting and doing everything for them. Deakin University education lecturer Dr Helen McGrath says "paranoid parenting" was so bad many children had few life skills and some were ending up depressed.

Some parents:

• DISCOURAGE children from taking the slightest physical risks, such as walking down the street.

• COMPLAIN to schools if their child is punished for being naughty.

• TAKE items banned on excursions like cameras to the location for them.

• INVESTIGATE why their upset child wasn't elected school captain.

• CRY bullying if their child has one run-in with another child.

• DELIVER fast food for school lunch to show how much they love their child.

Dr McGrath said parents had to allow their children to make mistakes, miss out and learn from the experience. "How on earth do you become a successful human being if you can't face life's risks?" she said. "I think most parents are actually quite lost. They intuitively feel that they're not getting it right. Being resilient means coping with negative events in one's life and 'bouncing back' to a state of emotional wellbeing," Dr McGrath says. "Young people who have the skills to be resilient have a lower likelihood of becoming depressed or suicidal and a higher likelihood of having more satisfying lives and greater emotional wellbeing.’

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dudley High School and the feisty Miss Dudley

from w
When I think about the opening of the school year in Fiji I think of Dudley High School, one of the best schools in Suva. Many of Fiji's finest women have come through the corridors of this school in Toorak, strong, articulate, professional women.

So who was Miss Dudley? The first book I read about her was sentimental and charming but later on I read a more informative book about her that revealed that she was a feisty Australian woman who deeply cared about the Indian community in Fiji. This was about a hundred years ago. She was of an independent spirit, and would not do what the 'committee men' of the Methodist church told her to do. She even packed up and choofed off with some of the adopted children rather than submit to their requirements that she move away from Suva. Dudley High School is named after her and also the Methodist Church in Amy Street, Toorak.

I came across this interesting letter written by Hannah Dudley that describes the time of Indian indentured labour in Fiji. It was sent by Hannah Dudley to the Modern Review on 4 November 1912
Source: T. Sanadhya, My twenty-one years in the Fiji Islands, Fiji Museum, 1991


Living in a country where the system called “Indentured labour” is in vogue, one is continually oppressed in spirit by the fraud, injustice, and inhumanity of which fellow creatures are the victims.
Fifteen years ago, I came to Fiji to do the mission work among the Indian people here. I had previously lived in India for five years. Knowing the natural timidity of Indian village people and knowing also that they had no knowledge of any country beyond their own immediate district, it is a matter of great wonder to me as to how these people could have been induced to come thousands of miles from their own country to Fiji. The women were pleased to see me as I had lived in India and could talk to them of their own country. They would tell me of their troubles and how they had been entrapped by the recruiter or his agents. I will cite a few cases.
One woman told me she had quarrelled with her husband and in anger ran away from her mother-in-law’s home to go to her mother’s. A man on the road questioned her, and said he would show her the way. He took her to a depot for Indentured labour. Another woman said her husband went to work at another place. He sent word to his wife to follow him. On her way a man said he knew her husband and that he would take her to him. This woman was taken to a depot. She said that one day she saw her husband passing and cried out to but was silenced. An Indian girl, was asked by a neighbour to go and see the Muharram festival. While there she was prevailed upon to go to a depot. Another woman told me that she was going to a bathing ghat and was misled by a woman to a depot.
When in the depot these women were told that they can not go till they pay for the food they have had and for other expenses, they were unable to do so. They arrive in this country, timid, fearful women not knowing where they are to be sent to. They are allotted to plantations like so many dumb animals. If they do not perform satisfactorily the work given to them, they are punished by being struck or fined, or they are even sent to goal. The life on the plantations alters their demeanour and even their faces. Some look crushed and broken-hearted, others sullen, others hard and evil. I shall never forget the first time I saw “indentured” women. They were returning from their day’s work. The look on these women’s faces haunts me.
It is probably known to you that only about 33 women are brought to Fiji to every one hundred men. I can go to into details concerning this system of legalized prostitution. To give you some idea of the result, it will be sufficient to say that every few months some Indian man murders for unfaithfulness of the woman whim he regards as his wife.
It makes one burn with indignation to think of the helpless little children born under the revolting condition of the “indentured labour” system. I adopted two little girls – daughters of two unfortunate women who had been murdered. One was a sweet, graceful child so good and true. It is always a marvel to me how such a fair jewel could have come out of such loathsome environments. I took her with me to India some years ago, and there she died of tuberculosis. Her fair form was laid to rest on a hill side facing snow-capped Kinchin-chinga. The other child is still with me – now grown up to be a loyal true and pure girl. But what of the children – what of the girls – who are left to be brought up in such pollution?
After five years of slavery, after five years of legalised immorality – the people are “free”. And what kind of a community emerges after five years of such a life? Could it be a moral self-respecting one? Yet some argue in favour of this worse than barbarous system, that the free Indians are better off financially than they would be in their own country! I would ask you at what cost to the Indian people? What have their women forfeited? What is the heritage of their children?
And for what is all this suffering and wrong against humanity? To gain profits – pounds, shillings and pence. For sugar companies and planters and others interested.
I beseech of you not to be satisfied with any reforms to the system of indentured labour. I beg of you not to cease to use you influence against this iniquitous system till it be utterly abolished.
-- H. Dudley, Suva Fiji. November 4

Monday, January 22, 2007

School starts today in Fiji for 2007

from w
Some look forward to seeing their friends again, some don't, because keeping still for a few hours is hard to do! And classroom techniques are not as interesting as playing on the beach - or even, playing internet games for rich kids!

In Fiji schools opening up today for students - kinders, primary, secondary. Classes are very large at times - such as 50 boys in a class at Marist Primary in Suva for some classes. Our mataqali children go to many different kinds of schools - government, church, Hindu, Muslim, Fijian village. School uniforms are compulsory even in primary school and there are school fees to be paid, not a lot by vavalagi standards, but still hard to find for many families.

Peceli and I have had associations with various Methodist schools such as Lelean Memorial School, Dudley High School, Jasper Williams High School and I have also taught at Penang Sangam High School, Rakiraki, and All Saints High School, Labasa, so education in Fiji is a high priority in my view.

The pictures are of Mali Island kindergarten graduates last December who will be starting at Mali District School today. Another is of Kauvadra High School students on the day the Education Minister visited.

Isa lei, I hope the powers-that-be in Suva get their priorities right and put education, health, water supply and roads up there as most important rather than dobbing in your neighbour/workmate for some small misdemeanours to be 'cleaned up'!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Growing pine on babasiga land

In babasiga (sunburnt land) which is a nickname for Macuata because it is fairly dry mainly grassland, there is a great potential in growing pine trees. One variety trialed in Fiji hs been Pinus caribaca hondurensis or Carribean pine which comes from the Carribean Basin such as Guatemala, Belize, Cuba and Bahamas. It seems to be an excellent tree for plantations in Fiji and has already been planted in Nabou, Nadi, Lololo, Ra, Bua and Macuata.

Because our family land is suitable, one of our boys decided to plant 700 pines last year and added another 1200 last month. He obtained the seedlings from a government station in Seaqaqa. 'They are very expensive,' Junion said to me. 'Oh, how much each?' I asked. His reply was astonishing. 'One cent!' What? I thought they would be one dollar each. It cost more for the transport to pick them up - two trips - than the planting material. Despite the very hot days, Junior got a working bee together with his cousins and they set to work to cover a hillside with the little pines.

The land is talasiga - which is a similar word to babasiga and vast areas of Vanua Levu and Viti Levu are of this type of hilly grass land with a relatively lower rainfall that the rest of Fiji.

It is a long term project as the pines will be ready for cutting in about ten years time.

Many people in the rural areas just get on with the job of surviving, and planting with the seasons of the year. A military dictatorship, or whatever it calls itself, does not seem particularly relevant to their lives.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Waiting for the Air Pacific plane

from w.
Last night I noticed that people waiting at Tullamarine,(Melbourne) for the Air Pacific plane from Fiji seemed to be quiet, isolated, not talking to strangers, just standing there at the barrier waiting an hour as their relative/friend went through customs etc. At least the planes seem to be full and tourists are still going to Fiji.

I think at Nadi airport it may be different. People talk to one another whether family, friends, or strangers. Or has Fiji changed and people no longer smile and say hi with small talk?

And some people in Fiji just wait in their homes hoping their kin with one day return from working in security in places like Iraq.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Once were Fijian warriors shaking palm fans

From w.
Once Fijians were warriors, using a fan made from palm leaves to wave and slap to make a frightening display and to parry enemy arrows which in Fiji were light and flimsy.

Now the fans are used in dances such as the meke iri. Fans can be made from coconut leaf, pandanus, but the best of all are leaves from the masei tree.

The tree is called vua ni masei and the botanical name is Pritchardia pacifica
The Fiji fan palm is a medium sized quick growing palm native to Fiji. This palm will grows with a straight smooth trunk with some fibre patterning at the base. It has numerous palmate leaves which are very large and nearly as wide as long. The shallowly split leaves are rich lime green with a yellowish midrib. This ornamental palm has fragrant brownish flowers. The spherical fruit is 11-12 mm in diameter, turning red then black at maturity.

A string band group from Mali Island are called Vua ni Masei.

The drawing here made made in a doctor’s garden in Suva. When I was drawing it, she said, ‘Don’t draw these shabby old trees!’ but I did. I will not do what I’m told!
I'll put some variations of my picture of the Suva tree on our Geelong blog.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

National Geographic writes up Vorovoro tribewanted

from w
The latest from tribewanted in Vorovoro.

National Geographic write about tribewanted on Vorovoro Island and lots of pictures, some of which I will place here. They are of Tui Mali, Epeli, a women's seasea dance, and building a bure.

Now that’s a real coup for the project in Vorovoro – a great article in National Geographic! I remember it was less than a year ago when Lusiana Speight wrote an article in a Fiji newspaper about the Taiwanese government giving fishing nets to the people of Mali Island. She wrote that she’d never heard of Mali Island! Well, since that time Mali Island people and Vorovoro (near Labasa, Vanua Levu) have had a lot of publicity which interests us because Peceli’s mother came from Mali Island and many of the people there are close relatives.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch

from w
Peter Foster, international fraudster, is once again eluding the police as he evades the court. Is he in the Yasawa islands, in Vanuatu, under the bed at Denarau, allowed to disappear while the soldiers (who had taken him over from the police) looked the other way?

Some of the story: first really noticed when he caused a ruckus about the proposed Champagne Resort in the Yasawas with a misleading fake website, then a court case over incorrect immigration papers, then a chase, and a capture at Pacific Harbour involving leaping into a river, the Suva gaol wasn't good enough so he was allowed to stay at JJ's on the Park at his own cost, then he slipped off to see his Mom at Denarau, missed some more court sittings, colluded with the military in making a subversive home-made video with Fijian tricksters, then disappeared once again. Hmmm. Well, it's a distraction from a coup I suppose!

Perhaps he's hiding is someone's pawpaw patch? Called papaya, mummy apple, weleti or maoli in Fiji.

Where oh where oh where is Peter
Where oh where oh where is Peter
Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch
Come on girls let’s go find him
Come on girls let’s go find him
Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch

Now a diversion because pawpaws are wonderful fruit. I gave my children pawpaw from about two months of age. An elderly missionary at Dudley ate 20 or more pawpaw seeds for breakfast every day. In Fiji they grow very well in Labasa and Mali Island and are great for breakfast with lemon.

It does have medicinal qualities they say - a diuretic (the roots and leaves), to treat bilious conditions (the fruit). Parts of the plant are also used to combat dyspepsia and other digestive disorders (papaya contains a proteolytic enzyme which soothes the stomach and aides in digestion) and the juice is used for warts, cancers, tumors, corns and skin defects.

The milky sap of a unripe papaya contains a complex proteolytic enzyme called Papain. Although it is a protein, this enzyme is not damaged by heat. The enzyme is similar to pepsin and hence it helps to digest protein in the body. It is therefore used to relieve indigestion.

Papain is also used to treat commercial beer, to degumm natural silk, as a meat tenderizer and in the production of chewing gums. Cosmetically it is used in Shampoos and in a number of face-lifting operations.

Papian has an anticoagulant effect. It is also claimed that the enzyme eliminates necrotic tissues in chronic wounds, burns and ulcers In humans capaine slows down the heart and thus reduces blood pressure.

However, externally the papaya latex is an irritant to the skin and internally it causes severe gastritis. Some people are allergic to various parts of the fruit and even the enzyme papain has its negative properties. Most notable is its ability to induce asthma and rhinitis and its sister enzyme carpaine can cause paralysis, numbing of the nerve centers and cardiac depression. Wow, that sounds ominous!

So, where, oh where oh where is Peter Foster? Munching on pawpaws and eating the seeds to stay regular?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Methodist church in the village

from w
The Methodist Church gets a huge serve of criticism in the Fiji newspapers as being conservative and aligned with the Qarase government so when the coup happened one spokesperson was quoted as being fiercely opposed to the military coup of Bainimarama. However since the appointment of a group of interim ministers, there has been a pragmatic response by Rev Ame - I don't think approving of the coup - but accepting the step forward in these appointments. The journalists quote something about 'the will of God' but I think that is simplistic. Of course some leaders in the Methodist Church in 2000 were is disarray, lost their way, and it was a time of great confusion for members. Today many people are also confused as people argue the case for and against. Most families have friends and family in the army as well as links and networks in many other aspects of Fiji society.

Back in the villages which are predominantly Methodist there are usually fervent prayers in households as well as Sunday worship, as people pray that Fiji will get on a right path whichever way it will be. A comment was 'what happens in Suva had nothing to do with us' but of course tampering with Fiji institutions and the economy certainly does impact upon distant places away from suva.

Here are some sentimental pictures - scanned from a larger painting of a Sunday in a rural village.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fiji: it is most strange

that an Interim Government takes on so many tasks. I thought an Interim Government would go softly softly until the next election and not make too many decisions! But I am wrong. They really want to work very hard.

Today's cartoon in the Fiji Times:

It will be a humungous task to sort out all the notes that are coming their way - gossip from kitchens, papers from disgruntled neighbours and work colleagues, mis-information also no doubt. Amidst it all there will be evidence of nepotism, skimming the cream from public money and incompetence. But whose job is it really to be an auditor of everyone's business? Okay, sure, the government departments have to be accountable for the use of funds. They even asked Australia, New Zealand, and USA to send in the 'forensic accountants' to help and so far the answer has been no.

Fijian and Tongan barkcloth

from w
The main difference seems to be that Fijian masi kesa is made by stencilling patterns using brown and black natural dyes. Formerly large leaves such as banana leaves had designs cut into them, but more lately stencils are made with clear plastic xray film. In Tonga the designs are made by rubbing over the barkcloth with a relief pattern underneath. In Fijian ceremonies both Fijian and Tongan kinds of barkcloth are used. The Tongan style is called gatu.

Large Tongan cloths are decorated by passing them repeatedly over a table on which various pattern boards have been placed. In this way the designs are copied repeatedly to obtain a decorated cloth of almost any desired length.

The raw material for these decorated cloths is the paper mulberry tree. Small trees are stripped of their bark, the inner part of which is then soaked and pounded out into flat sheets several feet long and a foot or two wide. These are then felted together to make larger sheets, which can in turn be cut to sizes required for various purposes.

The dye is made from soot collected from the burning nut of a candlenut tree, mixed with a solvent such as kerosene.

Browns and blacks dominate the tapa patterns against the near-white of the fibrous masi cloth. Rusty browns are generally made from a mix of the mangrove plant infused with candlenut bark. Other reds are from the iron oxides in the red clays so abundant in parts of Fiji. And the blacks are usually from the charred candlenuts or the burnt tree resin of the dakua tree.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Rites of passage for Fijian girls - then and now

A hundred and fifty years ago it was customary for Fijian girls to be tattooed before marriage but this custom seemed to have disappeared perhaps a hundred years ago. I found a drawing of a girl's tattoo on the internet.

There is a rite of passage for Fijian girls that is sometimes performed in the present day for a girl who is about twelve or thirteen. We attended one of these ceremonies where the girl was dressed up in masi and a feast prepared. I did a little oil painting of Sylvia and her twelve year old daughter.

Fiji - more guys and ladies sworn in

and the rest of the interim government in Fiji are:
from Fiji Times this very hour. And I can't see all of them saying, 'Yes, sir, how high do I jump sir.'

More ministers join interim Cabinet
1015 FJT
Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Update: 10.15am Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry has been sworn in as interim Finance, Sugar Reform and National Planning Minister in the military-backed interim administration.

He was sworn in moments ago by President Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

Next to be sworn in to the interim regime was deposed Energy Minister in the Laisenia Qarase-led government - Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi.

The Labour Party spokesman has been handed the Youth and Sports portfolio in the interim administration.

Ratu Josefa also swore in Ratu Jone Navakamocea, who was State Minister for National Planning in the deposed government, as interim Minister for Local Government amd Urban Development.

The Labour and Tourism portfolios went to ousted Deputy Opposition Leader Bernadette Rounds-Ganilau, who had to resign from the United Peoples Party to take up the post.

Mrs Rounds-Ganilau won the Suva City General seat in the 2006 polls on a UPP ticket, beating former Labour Minister Kenneth Zinck.

Former Mineral Department employee Tevita Vuibau was sworn in as interim Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources.

Former Director Research in the Agriculture, Sugar and Land Resettlement Ministry Jainend Kumar was sworn in as interim Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests Minister.

He retired from the job in October last year.

later -
Epeli Ganilau will be sworn in as Minister for Fijian Affairs later when he finds transport to Suva from Taveuni.
Also - how's this one:
Frank Bainimarama - Commander Fiji Military Forces, recently Acting President, now Interim Prime Minister, also in charge of Home Affairs and Information. That surely requires many hats to juggle?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Survivor 14 wrap - and some pics

The Fiji Survivor series will be on the TVs in the not-too-distant future and the film crew wrapped up a few weeks ago and sold off some of their redundant stuff to the villagers. Relatives in Oz had to sent money to their kin to purchase left-over goods! Shoulda just given it away really.
Here are a few pics and this website has more info. The pictures re Survivor 14 were taken in vicinity of Vunivutu, Macuata, Fiji.
A question: did the actors/participants of Survivor 14 spend their evenings in a real survivor mode or occasionally 'rest-up' in the little air-conditioned huts that were built there for the crew?

Fiji Interim Ministers line-up

from Fijilive in the past hour;
Bune, Nailatikau interim ministers
Monday January 08, 2007

Former environment minister Poseci Bune and former Speaker of Fiji’s Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau have been appointed interim ministers. Bune was sworn in as interim Minister for Public Service and Public Service Reforms by the President Ratu Josefa Iloilo at Government House this morning. Ratu Epeli is the new interim Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade.

Two unsuccessful National Alliance Party candidates in the 2006 elections, Manu Korovulavula and Netani Sukanaivalu were also appointed interim ministers. Korovulavula, a former senator, is the new interim Minister for Transport.

Sukanaivalu, who is a former navy officer and businessman, is the interim Minister for Education. Dr Jona Senilagakali is the new interim Minister for Health while Fiji Chamber of Commerce President Taito Waradi is the interim Minister for Commerce.

The interim Minister for Justice and Attorney General is Suva lawyer Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Former senator Laufitu Malani has been appointed interim Minister for Women and Social Welfare.

A few more interim ministers including the crucial post of Finance Minister will be sworn in tomorrow.
Some comments:
from W
Despite my difficulty in coming to terms with yet another coup in Fiji and the military's methods of intimidation of people and judgmental attitudes, at least the line-up for the the first swearing-in of ministers in the interim government seems to be satisfactory. The men and one woman all have good track records and experience. It would be nice to have younger guys like those two who were in Health who were energetic enough to get up at 6 a.m. to start work. Most of the new line-up are older, mostly QVS schooled, and linked with the Natonal Alliance Party. I'd like to see a couple from the Western side of Viti Levu. We'll see whose faces are in the line-up for the rest of the portfolios tomorrow. Maybe Berenado, Paula, and even Mahend - though how he could stand not being a dissenter, only Heaven knows!

New restaurant in Labasa

There's a new restaurant opened in Labasa, though we haven't checked it out yet, so we need to ask the relatives to have a look. There are already lots of eating places - some quite cheap - in Labasa. Here's the info about the Royale anyway.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Fijian youth playing cards

from w
After their swim yesterday and a huge meal of fish and chips from the shop opposite us (a guy from Lebanon) the young people played cards in our lounge room - two sisters, two brothers (one sleeping)and another lad. The girl on the left is the mother of the baby I drew yesterday and posted.

How about a ban on boring short back and sides in Fiji?

from w
It is rather boring to see so many guys with short back and sides and not even dyed black! So on my New Year wish list for Fiji, I would like to see some good old-fashioned variety in hair styles on the modern men who are often in the newspaper front pages.