Thursday, July 30, 2009

No conference

from w
After weeks of standoffs the Methodist Church in Fiji has given in and will take a delegation to Rewa to announce that the Conference will not take place. Many people will be disappointed about the huge choir competition being off. Last year I enjoyed watching some of the choirs and especially appreciated one group of singers which included handicapped people. Singing in harmony together - like the Choir of Hard Knocks - raise the spirits indeed.

Do people get their money back on the cancellation of ferry tickets, plane tickets, bookings? Of course the fund-raising can continue as the generous supporters will still donate to help with next year's budget. Nadi Methodists have raised $200,000 as their gift. And people can still watch and pray.

No conference
Publish date/time: 31/07/2009 [17:08] from Fiji Village website

The Methodist Church Standing Committee has just finished its meeting at Epworth House in Suva, and decided that the Annual Church Conference will not be held this year. Church Assistant General Secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra said a delegation of church ministers who are members of the standing committee are expected to go to Rewa tomorrow. Reverend Nawadra said the committee members will make a traditional presentation to Burebasaga high chief Ro Teimumu Kepa to inform her that the annual conference is officially cancelled.

The delegation will be led by former Methodist Church President and head of the Nadi Church Circuit Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca.

Ratabacaca also chaired today's Standing Committee meeting. Today's Standing Committee meeting took place minus the senior church executives who were last week charged for allegedly breaching the Public Emergency Regulation.

Reverend Tevita Nawadra said earlier today that they had a meeting with the Prime Minister and members of the Military Council this week, where they assured them that the standing committee will discuss the options to replace the format of the Church conference. The permit was granted based on these discussions. Reverend Nawadra said during their discussions with Bainimarama and the Military Council, they have also assured them of their support in the government's efforts to take the country forward.

(added Saturday) The Fiji Times adds some explanations of how the church will be able to manage some of the business in the coming months.

No conference
Saturday, August 01, 2009

THE Methodist Church has decided not to go ahead with its annual conference this year. This was confirmed to the Fiji Times yesterday by church assistant general secretary Reverend Tevita Banivanua. This is the second time the annual conference has been put on hold, the first following the coup in 1987.

Former church president Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca will lead a seven-member standing committee delegation to officially inform the vanua of Rewa, which was to have hosted the conference.

Mr Banivanua said the church will now expand the current 32-member standing committee to include all heads of the 53 divisions to discuss issues usually tabled at the annual conference. "We have only two legal frameworks that approve decisions for the church - the standing committee and the annual conference. Since there will be no conference, we have no choice but to expand the standing committee," he said.

The expanded standing committee will meet according to the scheduled dates of the conference this month. "The choir competition and soli will be held in various divisions," Mr Banivanua said. He said the decision to cancel the conference stemmed from directives from the State and the fact that church ministers were being arrested for breaching the public emergency regulation.

"It even went to the extent where the voice of the church was prohibited from being highlighted in the newspapers and airwaves, for instance our radio programme Raici Jisu Matua that airs every Sunday on Radio Fiji One," he said. "This is why the church decided to hold back on this year's conference."

Church executives met State officials on Tuesday in a "cordial meeting" which agreed to reintroduce the church's Sunday radio programme.

Without the conference, Mr Banivanua, said the church's coffers would suffer. He said the church collects about $800,000 at its annual conference. "That will be revised downwards significantly and the onus will on the members for their support," Mr Banivanua said. "We will also be doing some tightening of our budget for the programmes funded by the church." He said members from the US and Australia, invited to open and close the conference, would still come to participate in the choir competition and offer their soli. "We live by faith and believe God will find other ways to achieve what we want to achieve," Mr Banivanua said.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nemani from Mali Island

from w
Tribewanted continues to thrive on Vorovoro Island with the help of many local Fijian people mainly from Mali Island. Here's an interview with Nemani as posted on Tribewanted website.
The Hammock Society Interview with Nemani
→ James Kerridge

Hahaha… fresh like bread?...

Yes indeed, rising up like yeast is one of our younger talents on the island, ladies and gentlemen I bring to you Mr. 6-Pack!

Eeeeeeeeeee! Bula sia everyone.

Name and rank?

My name is Nemani and I work here in the kitchen on Vorovoro.

I thought your name was Lemony, for ages I was calling you Lemony and telling tribe members that was your name… why didn’t you tell me I was saying it wrong?

No no no, how can I correct you? Oh my God! You know, in Fijian culture, in the old way, we don’t tell someone if they make a mistake like that, they have to learn themselves.

Beautiful and frustrating in equal amounts. You say you work in the kitchen but that’s a little misleading, you do much, much, much, more.


It’s true, stop being shy and tell tribe some more…

OK, I spend some of my time doing shopping for the tribe. We go to town on Wednesday and Saturday. I go to Labasa market, I know how to speak in Hindi and Fijian and English too. The market sellers see the white people and try to charge more money so they can keep more money… they sell for $6 but see you and sell for $8.

A whopping 33% increase.

So… I see that… and I can stop that because I speak in all the languages. Help save money for the project because food in Fiji is getting very expensive, all prices going up.

The market gets really hectic on Saturday, does this make your job more difficult?

No, I like the market and the people. On Saturday you can find the big fish, see strange shapes moving around in containers… very funny place to be. People always making joke and laughing, doesn’t matter that its busy.

How many plastic bags do you return with?

You try to trick me Jim? You know I don’t need any plastic bag in the island, I use the eco-bag. If you buy some milk and butter from the supermarket they given you one bag for the butter, one for the milk and then put into another plastic bag… oh my God! I don’t need that, too much rubbish already in Fiji.

Why do people throw rubbish everywhere spoiling the beautiful land?

They don’t think about what they are doing, when you attend Class 4 they teach you about the plastic, it takes 1,000 years to rust away… quite along time to keep plastic in the water. And what about the fish and everything? They eat the plastic and die, very bad. I think the people must be stupid or something. Or they must be too tired to pick it up and put it in the rubbish bin.

Sometimes, when I go to town on the boat and its low tide you can count all the plastic bags stuck in the mangroves. The closer you get to town, the more bags there are… it makes me sad. I think maybe they’ve heard the story of an island made from plastic rubbish and so they want to make one too!

A plastic island! Oh my God!

And back on Vorovoro, you’ve also been leading some cultural classes haven’t you?

I’m doing my own coconut class in the island, show you how to climb the coconut tree, its not a very hard job.

How high can you climb?

I can climb maybe thirty/forty feet. How high can you climb Mr. President?...

One hundred feet, easy peasy.

Hahahahahaha… after we climb we husk the coconut, grate the coconut, we can eat the coconut, drink the coconut.

Just be careful not to get hit by a coconut!


Is it true that there are crabs in Fiji that climb coconut trees?

Yeah, its true. Sometimes the octopus will climb the tree too.

No way!

Yeah, its true hahahahaha…

You’re also the Manager of the Hammock Society.

I’m very proud for that.

But I’m not sure you’re the right brand image, look at you… you’re ripped! Where’s the relaxed wobble? Its pure muscle…

This muscle is not from exercise on the beach, this is from climbing the coconut tree and pounding the kava. I am the Hammock Society Manager.

You must have a secret gym somewhere?

Before I had my secret gym and now I don’t have any.

Hmmmmmm… very, very suspicious…

I don’t want to get caught exercising and make the Hammock Society name go down. I’m not doing any training anymore, only climbing coconut tree and pounding kava.

What were you training for?

I train for the rugby. I just play two times this year, I miss all the technique because I work here and there is a lot of reserves in my team. I hide my rugby boots so no one takes them, my brother took them once and I couldn’t play, so now I hide them all the time.

Is this lobster tattoo on your chest part of the rugby club?

This is not a lobster, it’s a scorpion Jim!

Oh how silly of me, my mistake…

I got this one year ago when I was 18. You know the scorpion it got the poison, is very small but it can bite people so its just like me… I’m not a very big man but I’m dangerous.

Hahahahaha… what would you like to be when you’re older?

I want to be a rugby player. I want to play 15s. In Labasa, the ground is very hard, you get hurt every time, some part of the ground is like gravel.

How do you become a professional rugby player?

You play in your local club then trial for Mucuata province, after that go play in Suva with Mucuata, Latouka, Nadi… against each other… so they pick from there who is the best and go to Fiji.

Would they look at schools?

Sometime they do that, get a scholarship for overseas to play rugby. But I finish school when I think I was 16 and then I harvest the sugarcane. Its very far away from home, maybe two miles by foot, hold your machete with you, your bag, your foods and walk. Leave at four, reach there five thirty… start to cut sugarcane, 11 o’clock back home. Do this for six months.

That’s a pretty short working day if you forget about the travel. Fijians have a reputation for enjoying life rather than work, do you think this is true?

The business and Fijian life can’t go together because Fiji… Fiji time… stay in Fiji use Fiji time. When you work in town you have to rush every time. You can see this in Labasa town… some people just roaming around, stop in the corner and laugh and joking but working people move differently.

You clearly love your job, but what does a young Fijian lad get up to on a Saturday night?

I just spend time with my family because all other times I am with the tribe.

Well, you’ve become one of the most popular members of Team Fiji, the tribe adore you… don’t get a big head.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee… I enjoy meeting every people from every other country. Its very happy for us gang to stay here and know each other, its very nice. I learn a lot of new music… I learn to play “Say Tonight” (Eagle Eye Cherry) and I remember my friend Matt teach me how to play “Look How Far We’ve Come” by Matchbox Twenty. In Labasa we just have Rihanna, Chris Brown, ACon, but tribe members come with ipods… oh my God… 28,000 songs inside the ipod… keep on listening, keep on listening… lots of reggae.

Do you have ipods in Labasa?

We just have the 4GB ipod, not very big… costs $165.

I think they’re fake as well.

Yeah maybe. I have two.

Two fake ones, sounds like a boob job.

What job?...

Never mind… any last message for the readers out there?

I am still single!

How can we end it there! Would you marry a European girl?

Yeah… hahahahaha…

What would your family say? Do they want you to marry a Fijian?

If they mind, I don’t mind hahahahaha eeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Live in Fiji, be happy together.

Happily ever after. Nemani, my Manger of the Hammock Society, it’s a pleasure to work and joke around with you all week long but for goodness sakes, don’t let me catch you exercising.

Don’t worry Jim, chill out, don’t work out.

Go Hammocks!

Stan Ritova

from w
In the Fiji Sun today was the news that Stan Ritova has passed away in Sydney.
Stan of course comes from the Ritova chiefly family in Naseakula, Labasa, He was known as Stan Whippy for many years.

Media legend ritova passes away

Pioneering local journalist, editor, and author Stan Ritova died in hospital in Sydney yesterday. He had not recovered consciousness after a stroke on Friday. In his later years, Stan had a long fight with kidney trouble and had been on dialysis.
In a media career that spanned the decades, the man popularly known as Ratu Stan was:

l the first local chief reporter of The Fiji Times,

l first news editor of the original Fiji Sun,

l editor of the Daily Post when it was in its heyday,

l and consultant editor for the new Fiji Sun. He was co-author of Sitiveni Rabuka’s book No Other Way, about the then Colonel Rabuka’s two 1987 coups.

Stan, whose mother was from the chiefly family of Nasekula, Labasa, began his career as Stan Whippy.

He wrote thousands of stories, capturing the essences of life in Fiji’s rural and urban areas. He was also an accomplished photographer.

He was a regular reporter on Fiji for international news agencies and had close friends in the international media, especially in Australia and NZ.

He shared his experiences in numerous forums and writings. He was a mentor to many who went on to make their mark in journalism in Fiji and overseas. He was the president of the former Fiji Islands Media Association. Under his proud leadership the association opened Fiji’s first journalism training institute. It had the country’s first local journalism trainers, who had been sent to an American university as part of their preparation.

Stan said that journalists should be encouraged to go out of the office and do stories because then the story would make better reading that way.

It was a life he led during his long-time career, travelling throughout Fiji to record events big and small, and recording the daily history of the nation. He also stressed that journalists should be totally dedicated to their work, something in which he led by example. He was recognised with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Fiji Awards for Media Excellence (FAME) in 2007.

He created a ripple of laughter when he said he was third awardee and his predecessors only received it after they had died. The two were Sir Leonard Usher and Robert Keith-Reid, both of whom he had a long friendship with. At the awards night, Stan had encouraged young journalists to make “a total commitment to the profession”. “To become a journalist you have to be very dedicated,” he had stressed again.

He became a champion for healthy kidneys and kidney care after joining the Kidney Foundation of Fiji. Stan worked tirelessly with others for the creation of space at Suva’s CWM Hospital to house kidney patients who would undergo dialysis treatment.

He had moved to Sydney himself because of the need for regular dialysis treatment. There he was working on a book on the Fiji newspaper industry. When he died at North Shore Hospital in Sydney he was reportedly surrounded by his family. They included his children whose successful careers he was extremely proud of.

Funeral arrangements are being made.

(later - on Friday) There are two very good tributes to Stan Ritova in today's Fiji Times - an editorial and a feature article by Matt Wilson. It looks like the family will take Stan's body back to Fiji for the funeral.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fiji's President will retire soon

from w
From radio fiji is the news that Ratu Iloilo will, at last, be living the pleasant life of a retired man, to spend time with his family in Veseisei. He is a frail gentleman and deserves time in his senior years with his kin and his vanua.
Fiji President to retire
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The President Ratu Josefa Iloilo will be retiring at the end of next month. This was announced by the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama this afternoon. Bainimarama said - the President informed him of this decision at Governemnt House. "He informed me that he will retire as President of the repubolic of Fiji Islands after taking leave this Thrusday - that is the 30th of July - in the next couple of days."

The Vice-President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau will take over.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Melbourne Fijians at worship

from p and w
What an excellent occasion it was yesterday as many Fijians from four churches in Melbourne joined together at the Coburg Uniting Church as guests of the (continuing) Methodist Church there where Teopla Raicebe is the talatala. We came from Dandenong, Altona Meadows/Laverton, and Chadstone church communities. About three hundred people where there singing hymns, praying for Fiji, and later we had a splendid luncheon and a soli for the Fiji Methodist Church Conference (whether on or off!) Some photos here are of choirs, Sunday School children and in the adjoining hall afterwards. (More photos on Geelong Visual Diary.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Repairing the power points

from Peceli,
Here are a few thoughts about the Methodist Church in Fiji.

Illustration of repairing the power wiring.

To begin with I must thank my golfer friend Lindsay Dixon for helping us by fixing the damaged power points in our house last Wednesday. My friend was able to come to investigate the power failures. We had to climb inside the roof and crawl about searching for the cause. It took 2 hours to find the problem, and it was not until we climbed on the top of the roof, took our a few roofing irons above the kitchen and then checked the electricity wiring where the plastic box was half burnt and melted. That was the cause of the problem.

Then from there the electrician set about to check and fix about fourteen power points and install a safety switch and this took another two hours. Lindsay said that the wiring was probably over fifty or sixty years old and had never been updated.

This is a parable perhaps. I would like to compare the checking the problems of electric power current flowing through the wires with the power of leadership of the Methodist Church in Fiji.

What is the current problem of the Methodist Church in Fiji at present?

Power points
1. The basic problem is that there is very old wiring, with no rewiring done in forty-five years ago when the Methodist became Independent in 1964, when Rev Setareki Tuilovoni was the first Fijian President.

Power point 2. The Constitution of the Fiji Methodist Church is very old and has to be updated to suit the modern times, though some parts were changed during Rev Paula Niukula’s time about the General secretary position.

Power point 3. Sometimes the load is in one place, top-heavy without a safety switch. Has Epworth House offices in Suva become the focus too much?

Power point 4. What has happened to the relationship with the parents Churches like Australia’s Uniting Church in Australia and New Zealand and their contributions toward Fiji?

Power point 4. The relationship of the Lotu with Vanua and the Traditional Chiefs in each area. Do we need to check who holds the power? Check who really ‘owns’ the Lotu - the Chiefs or particular individuals or the ordinary people.

Power point 5. Fiji Islands are prone to yearly hurricanes and earthquakes yet survive, and coups by strong people, but what do we do about it? Passively accept that this happens and just get along with our normal life to support our families?

How can these power points be fixed? What kind of people do we need in Fiji to fix the power points? Or just let the wires get heated up and damaged? We surely need to take action, install safety switches, and bring in the skilled people who are willing to crawl through the roof of a house to find and fix each damaged area, bit by bit. It is not an easy task, but necessary.

Prayers and fasting are good but are not enough. Action is needed. You do not just pray that your electrical problem is fixed. We need the expertise and people with the right skills to find the problems and set about fixing them. What do you think?

Walkin' down the road

from w
On our journey we sometimes find a straight road and an easy path and our direction is clear. Other times the road is winding even dangerous.

Or we find a wall blocking the road we need to travel. Banging our head against the bricks only gives us a headache and bleeding. Perhaps we need to find other paths, even step into the mud of the mangroves, squelshing our way forward.
Life isn't meant to be easy isn't it?

Quotes from the novel The Shack.

‘Does that mean’, asked Mack, ‘that all roads will lead to you?’ ‘Not at all’, smiled Jesus as he reached for the door handle to the shop. ‘Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.’” (182)

Sarayu: “Mack, if anything matters than everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again” (235).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Miss Campbell remembered in Fiji

from w
I am happy that the people in Fiji remembered Pauline Campbell this week. What a difference the world would be if women with grace and sensitivity made more decisions in a society such as Fiji!
In today's Fiji Times:

Students pay tribute
Geraldine Panapasa
Friday, July 24, 2009

FORMER students of Dudley House School gathered yesterday at the Samabula Methodist church for a memorial service and pay their respects to Pauline Campbell who died last week, aged 85.

Ms Campbell was headmistress of Dudley House School and a strong advocate of equal participation of women in the ordained ministry of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma.

The memorial was attended by female clergies, members of the Methodist Deaconess Order

Friends group in Labasa

from w
Peceli saw this article about Labasa and suggested I post it. Some good news amidst the gloomy news!
Not all so ‘gloom'By THERESA RALOGAIVAU
Friday, July 24, 2009
Australian High Commissioner James Batley opens the new Friend office in Labasa
DESPITE the global dow-nturn and other local developments, "it's not all doom and gloom", says Australian High Commissioner James Batley. "Human beings are amazingly inventive and resourceful creatures and even in very difficult circumsta-nces people will find ways if they work at it," Mr Batley said.

"If they use their intelligence, their body and if they work together, in the end those are the fundamental tools that we have at our disposal." Mr Batley was speaking at the opening of the new office of the Foundation for Rural Integrated and Develop-ment –– FRIEND in Labasa on Wednesday.

He was also responding to comments by FRIEND founder Sashi Kiran that there was hope if communities were willing to work with the resources around them and produce products that were heavily imported.

"I think she's given us so many reasons to have hope and that's really one of the reasons the Australian government, through AusAid has developed a close partnership with FRIEND over the last few years," he said.

"I think with the assistance and the leadership with groups like FRIEND it really does provide hope for communities."

Mr Batley urged communities not to place too much reliance on the Government, which is a driving force behind the assistance his government had given to Fiji.

"I suppose one of the basic thoughts behind it is there are some things governments do and can do well and have assistance doing but there are some things governments don't do that well or shouldn't even try to do," he said.

"Governments cannot do everything and certainly when they are talking about development, when they are talking about people's livelihoods, it's not all just about what government can do for me," he said.

Ms Kiran said the new office should allow farmers to deal with the challenge of locating a market outlet for their products.

"Farmers, especially for fruits and vegetables, should do their part in farming and FRIEND will arrange for the market outlets."

Hindu function draws 4000 people

from w
Labasa had a major Hindu function drawing a large crowd to Subrail Park. Permit granted, I presume. The partial eclipse of the sun was a good sign too. Fiji Sun writes it as follows:
Renowned priest visits Labasa
More than 4000 people flocked to the Vodafone Subrail Park last night to listen to spiritual words delivered by the Sant Shri Rameshbhai Oza. Sant Oza is a well known priest throughout the world and is heard over the air. He also toured throughout the world to deliver spiritual speech and this year he made a trip to Fiji. It is his third visit to Fiji. He first came in 1992 in Suva and then in 1995, he visited Suva and parts of the western division. This year he decided to make another trip to Fiji. He landed in Nadi Airport, spent few days in Ban and then flew to Labasa on Tuesday.

While Fiji Sun caught him, Sant Oza said it was the nature of the people in the northern division especially Labasa that made him tour Labasa. He said the people were so nice and the environment was also good. He also said that he could feel that Labasa was closer to God in nature. “People’s emotions are very much pure and they are more dedicated to God,” he said. “People like devotion and it is something I like very much. They are more dedicated to God and to the communities in nature,” he added.

He also visited a school in Labasa and he was touched by the way children responded to him. “Children have lots of questions and O was really glad to answer them and to share things with them”. He added that it was good to see a large number of people gathered at the park. “There was a very good crowd and I would like to tell everybody in this island to remain with nature and to see God all the time”.

“The best thing is to get away from all the bad habits stay pure’.

Shree Sanatan Dharan Naag Mandir priest Kamlesh Maharaj added that his visit was very educational. He said for many years they only hear him preaching on the radio and when he visted them in Labasa, it was a great pleasure. “We are very thankful that he came to visit us. Out of the many temples in Fiji, he decides to come down here to us”.

‘We learn many basics of philosophy of Hinduism and moral values that we need to practice in our society today. “He has also help us to develop more on our spiritual growths which is a very important part of life”. “We used to hear him on the air and when we see him face to face we are very happy,’ he said. Meanwhile, audiences were expected to double up last night as Sant Oza would preach for the last time.
(Some of the typos have been corrected and I emboldened some of the words!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Mercy by Toni Morrison

from w
Yesterday I read an American novel by Toni Morrison - what a thoughtful, beautifully written book it was. The setting is the early days of slavery in America and the power one person has over another, whether African, European, native American. The main character is Florens, a young African slave who is traded to a Dutch settler. Her mother's voice completes the story with these words 'to be given dominion over another is a hard thing, to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing.' The author has a consistent stance in her novels that the lives of women are often very hard and in this book 'A Mercy' a point is made that a woman deferring to a man as the centre of her life is also a kind of slavery. Hmmm. much food for thought there.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Stop sharing the bilo

from w
And about time too. Here's a memo from the Health guys who are really concerned about the spread of H1N1 influenza in Fiji, a disease that may be mild for most people, but for the vulnerable it can lead to pneumonia. So the suggestion is to stop sharing the one bilo when drinking yaqona. That does sound sensible to me and in our gatherings in Geelong some of the drinkers do bring their own bilo, partly to make sure they are not given a huge drink! Taki! We've been drinking kava the past couple of nights in remembrance of our dearly loved cousin, Neimani Lala, from Wailevu who died last week.

from Fijilive:Suva, Fiji
Temp: 75 °F / 23.9 °C
Wind: 19.3 KMH
Mostly Cloudy
LOCAL NEWS Get own ‘bilo’, yaqona drinkers toldJuly 22, 2009
Get your own ‘bilo’ for grog, the Health Ministry has warned as a preventative measure against the pandemic H1N1. This advise however has not gone down well with many people in Fiji as the sharing of kava bowls and the single use of a glass during alcohol consumption is common.

Health spokesman Iliesa Tora said people in Fiji do realize how the H1N1 is spread but the fact remains that they are ignorant. “It has become a tradition in Fiji for people to be sharing the same bowl and glass during kava and alcohol consumption, something I believe people in Fiji will have a hard time adapting to,” Tora said.

He added, however it is important that people realize the H1N1 virus spreads faster than the common flu and its symptoms become obvious after seven days of contracting the virus.

Bar tender at Suva’s Down Under nightclub Roland Koroi admits that patrons still use the one glass taki style. “It’s been used for many years and most people are comfortable with.”

In the busy Marks Street of Central Suva, Skyline Barber Shop, have had the tradition of always having a mix of yaqona whenever the business starts and this continues throughout the day. Business owner Mohammed Nizam told FijiLive that although his business partner has a separate bilo for himself, due to his religious beliefs, all others including himself, share one bowl.

According to the Ministry of Health, the virus is spread through contact and not through air.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Did the moon lose its magic that day?

from w
July 21 1969: Man takes first steps on the Moon
American Neil Armstrong has become the first man to walk on the Moon.
The astronaut stepped onto the Moon's surface, in the Sea of Tranquility, at 0256 GMT, nearly 20 minutes after first opening the hatch on the Eagle landing craft.

Armstrong had earlier reported the lunar module's safe landing at 2017 GMT with the words: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

As he put his left foot down first Armstrong declared: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
But did the moon lose its magic that day? Was the billion dollar project necessary? Why can't we keep our myths and magic about the moon? My very favourite song is 'Song to the Moon' in Rusalka by Dvorak, and another favourite is 'Moon River' by Mancini. Music about the moon abounds including many Fijian songs about the vula, and they are mostly love songs of course!

Was that day in 1969 momentous for you? I asked Peceli - where were we on that day - no electricity in our house in Rakiraki next to the village, without TV and only a battery radio. I was five months pregnant at the time and a bit soft in the head - sonaua - high tide perhaps. Peceli said he was at the Methodist Conference at Centenary Church, doing some of the translations of the proceedings, alongside Anaseini. I can't remember. Anyway, July 21 is Peceli's birthday so I should remember it!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

All in a Sunday's work

from w
It was going to be a relatively quiet Sunday and I started the day listening to hymns on the FM radio. Then all I had planned for the day was to just play music for morning church, then in the afternoon go to a meeting with writers. But it got complicated, first with an email giving us the sad news of the passing of Peceli's much loved cousin, Neimani Lala, from Wailevu, Labasa. Then I had to make a call to an Australian poet friend whose Mum had passed away this week and I will go to the funeral tomorrow. I was nearly late for church at East Geelong. Fortunately I didn't play the music upside down.

Peceli asked me to go with him to Altona Meadows/Laverton church for the 1 p.m. Fijian church service. I couldn't sing the hymns as the song-leader was a fine soprano from Gau who tuned us up rather high! We hadn't had lunch first, so I was hungry by 2.40 p.m. A Fijian nurse from the Royal Melbourne Rehab had phoned that Mitch (from Natewa) was a patient so could we visit him. Okay, we found the hospital behind the Melbourne Zoo and were happy to see that Mitch could speak clearly and was recovering very well. Here is a photo of Va (from Beqa) the nurse, and Mitch with his wife and two daughters - such nice people.

By 4 p.m. I was still hungry but we couldn't find a park near the Chinese shops in Footscray for a meal of Chinese soup so we kept on driving until we spied a Hungry Jacks on Somerville Rd and their food is better than Macdonalds. Also they offer all kinds of coffee instead of Fanta etc.!

Then we visited a Lau/Gau family near Werribee (no kava drinking this time thank goodness) and I talked ten to the dozen, partly about exorbitant traffic fines with faulty speed cameras. We got home before 7 p.m. and we are grateful that our very old car did not let us down. And after all, it was quite a busy day.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The life of a deaconess

from w
I found this article ( via google where aspects of the life of a deaconess is described by one of the women in a conference earlier this year. I think the Fiji deaconesses are the salt of the earth, gentle women, focussed on loving the people in their communities. There are no Pajeros, no sitting at the top of the table with the biggest plates of food. The do 'walk in the mud' to visit the people (is one Bishop living in Labasa mentions!

Jean Mayers reports on the DAP Conference in Fiji
January 19th, 2009

I recently attended Diakonia Asia Pacific (DAP) which this year was held in Fiji. Delegates from various denominations in New Zealand, Australia and Korea attended and the President of World Diakonia federation, Deaconesses Louise Williams presided. This was the first time Fiji has hosted a cross-cultural ecumenical meeting, and 100 Deaconesses from various islands in Fiji attended the Conference.

We were welcomed in a traditional Fijian ceremony, where Louise – as our Leader – was presented with gifts including a traditional cape and kava was drunk. Finally, the women told, through dance, the story of the arrival of the early missionaries in the 19th century.

The guest of the conference was the President of the Methodist Church in Fiji, The Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca, who welcomed us on behalf of his Church, and introduced the theme of the Conference, The Cross and the Towel, taken from John 13:1-11 (especially verses 4-5). Reverend Laisiasa expanded on the role of servant ministry; in Fiji there is no word for servant. The closest words are ‘tamata cakacaka’ – literally ‘a workman or a working person’ which are indicative of Diaconal ministry. A bible study later in the day gave us the opportunity to reflect on this address.

In her address, World President Louise focused on – and expounded - the five images of Diakonia:

Washing Feet,
Waiting Tables
Telling the Story
Tending the Door
Bearing the Light. (This last image encouraged us to ‘Get up off our knees, and reach for the Light!’)

During this session, a guided meditation evoked powerful emotions for many of us.

An interesting interpretation of the theme ‘Cross and the Towel’ was given by Reverend Tuikilakila K. Waqairatu, Deputy General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Fiji, in a Bible Study. From being ‘At the Door’ in the Study, we were taken ‘Inside the House’ relating to John 13:1-17. Reverend Waqairatu posed the question; as we are ‘inside the house’, we need to ask ourselves what are the moral/spiritual impediments which we carry that require washing/cleansing?

Bible studies and devotions, sharing of ministry issues in our small groups and in our large group was also part of the programme and we came to know one another well during these sessions.

However, there were plenty of opportunities for us to have some fun! A ‘lovo’, meal prepared and cooked in a traditional way, picnic to Mosquito Island, entertainment from each community, and a tour of the local museum was also part of the itinerary.

A boat ride took us to Bau Island, an important island for Christianity in Fiji. It was here that Missionaries, accompanied by Tongan Christians, first took Christianity to Fiji in 1853; it was received – first by Fijian women, who later converted their menfolk! (We were told that previous missionaries had met with an unfortunate end by being eaten!) The island was a focal point of Fiji, its Chief - Ratu Seru Cakobau – had been the most warlike and feared and Missionaries could not proceed in Fiji until they had paid respects to him.

We were treated to a traditional welcome in the community house, welcomed by the Chief’s great-grandson, and all drank kava together and shared hospitality, followed by a delicious afternoon tea.

A final worship service of communion, on the last day, evoked powerful emotions for many, during the foot-washing ceremony, and proved to be a wonderful opportunity for reconciliation and forgiveness.

Throughout the whole week, we were treated to wonderful Fijian hospitality and welcome. Nothing was too much trouble for the Deaconesses in an effort to cater for our every need. They live and work in difficult – and often dangerous – environments, with little or no pay or comforts which we take so much for granted. Yet they were gracious and generous, and displayed a great sense of fun and good humour.

Below is a Tribute I gave to our hosts, on the final day of the Conference:
Nis Bula (Greeting);

Our focus this week has been on feet and on shoes, the covering for our feet. Our feet brought us here from overseas, to attend this Conference. Our feet were often tired and sore; our shoes pinched our feet, we had corns and bunions and blisters from tight shoes. Here in Fiji, at this Conference, we have been encouraged to take off our shoes, to cool our feet, and to feel the ground beneath our feet.

Here we have had the opportunity to walk in another person’s shoes, to hear other people’s stories, and to walk alongside another; we have walked behind one another in a line on our visit to Bau Island on our visit to meet with the Chief.

And here, in this place, our dear Fijian sisters, you have washed our feet, refreshed us and shared your hospitality. For these gifts we give you our thanks.

When our feet are washed, they become wet, and need to be dried with a towel. A towel – a symbol of softness, gentleness – qualities which you have shown to us, as weary travelers, in your ministry of Deaconess in Fiji. Your gentleness has refreshed us, your smiles and songs have recharged our batteries; your sharing and fellowship have energized and renewed us to return to our homes.

So thank you, Fijian Deaconesses, - for your gifts, gifts of food and drink, of hospitality, friendship and song, and for being true examples of discipleship in your service to God. Thank you for washing our feet with the water of kindness and drying them with the towel of gentleness and love.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Farewell Pauline Campbell

from w
Many Fiji readers will remember Miss Pauline Campbell who spent many years as a missionary in the Indian Division of the Methodist Church and in the establishment of the Deaconess Order. Pauline passed away yesterday in Australia, aged about 85 years.

I knew Pauline Campbell from the beginning of 1962 when she offered to give me accommodation in the flat behind the house in Belo Street Samabula, a suburb of Suva where Pauline as a Mission Sister to the Indian community was establishing a church. Rev Doug Fullerton and Ethel were in Suva at that time at Dudley Methodist Church. We were also associated with Dudley Church in Toorak where the girls from Dudley High School went twice every Sunday. By that time Miss Phyllis Furnivall was principal of Dudley High School and she was a close friend of Pauline. I stayed with Pauline for one year before moving to Davuilevu. Later I did teach at Dudley myself – one year living with the missionaries, another year enjoying the freedom of two small rooms in an Indian household in Amy Street.

Pauline was such a committed missionary, was energetic, hard-working and knew how to speak in Hindi, and she had a real twinkle in her eye. We got along well and she helped me settle into a good routine as a teacher in Fiji. I was 23 and Pauline was a bit older, maybe in her 30s. I wasn’t a missionary though, more an adventurer, but with a passion to change the world! We lived in the midst of the people with Indian neighbours and it was a wonderful time in my life. She had a very ordered life, prayer each morning and she was conscientious with her extensive visiting program to the homes of the Indian people.

Dudley High School had a high standard and Pauline (earlier) and Phyllis really cared about excellence and giving the girls a chance to study well and have careers. It was the colonial days before Fiji was independent and very few Fiji people were training for secondary teaching. The Methodist missionary women stuck together a lot. There were about twelve of them at that time. I think Pauline spent her holidays with Phyllis and also with Marj Hodge who was principal of Jasper Williams School in Lautoka on the western side of Viti Levu.

When Peceli and I got married in Lautoka at the end oif 1966, Pauline was there and she wrote a detailed charming letter to my parents describing the day (as my Mum and Dad in Australia weren’t there.) She was very thoughtful like that.

We lost touch a bit as Peceli and I lived in places like Rakiraki but Pauline moved on to establish the Deaconess House and train young women to be leaders in the church. She wanted both Fijian and Indian young women to be trained together though the Methodist Church at that time did not have a lot of inter-cultural worship and programs.

When Phyllis Furnivall was murdered at Davuilevu at the end of a school year, 1970 perhaps, this was devastating for Pauline and all of us. We had thought we were invulnerable to harm, being committed to working in the Christian church. I’m not sure when Pauline returned to Australia but I think that later on, she did go back to Fiji for a time.

I rang Pauline a few months ago to tell her that Rev Doug Fullerton had died but I don’t think she remembered me.

Pauline was very important in my life for that first year I spent in Fiji, knocking off some of the worldly edges on my life, putting me on track. She was a lovely person and the people of Fiji remember her with affection and gratitude.

In a book by A. Harold Wood on the Overseas Missions (1978) there are some references to Pauline: and other missionaries;
Pauline Campbell 1949-73 and 1975 –
Phyllis Furnivall 1951-70 and Marjorie Hodge 1958 –

And on page 106
Pauline Campbell from Canberra became Headmistress of Dudley House School in 1949 in succession to Miss Griffiths. She wielded a pronounced influence in spiritual terms as well as in teaching progress. So strongly was she connived of the needs of religious and social welfare work among Fijian and Indian women in urban areas that she promoted the foundation of the Deaconess Order in Fiji.From supervisor of deaconess training, and, after retiring, decided to return to Suva to support the Mission’s programme. The Deaconess Order, already proving a boon to the women of both races, is a monument to her wise oversight and her spirit of complete devotion to the Church’s mission in Fiji.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Let me go down to the river and pray

from w,
A song is buzzing in my head.

As I went down to the river to pray
Studyin about that good ol' way

And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord show me the way!

O sisters let's go down
Lets go down, Come on down
O sisters lets go down
Down in the river to pray

Chord progression is the same in the rest of the verses…

As I went down in the river to pray
Studyin about that good ol way
And who shall wear the robe & crown
Good Lord show me the way

O brothers lets go down
Let's go down, Come on down
O brothers lets go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studyin about that good ol way
And who shall wear the star and crown?
Good lord show me the way

O fathers lets go down
Let's go down, Come on down
O fathers lets go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol way
And who shall wear th robe and crown
Good Lord show me the way

O mothers lets go down
Come on down, don't you wanna go down?
O Mothers lets go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studin about that good ol' way
And who shall wear the star and crown?
Good Lord show me the way

O sinners lets go down
Lets go down, come on down
O sinners lets go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studyin about that good ol way
And who shall wear the Robe and crown?
Good Lord show me the way

Way to go, painters from Nadi

Fiji Arts Council participants with their artwork, standing L-R, Sairusi Uanitokalau, Ratu Ralulu Saverio and Sevanaia Delana. Front, Joe Taoi and Nelson Delailomaloma
from w
The artwork that Pacific Island kids come up with is often stunning. A big vinaka vakalevu to the mentors who see the talents of these young people and get their work into the public eye. From the Fiji Times today.

A touch of CreativitiBy RUBY TAYLOR-NEWTOWN
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
FOUR emerging artists from Nadi will be showcasing their creative works at this evening's Fiji Arts Council-organised Birds and Turtles Art Exhibition at the Fiji Centre for Art in Suva. For Sairusi Uanitokalau, Sevania Delana, Ratu Ralulu Saverio and Nelson Delailomaloma, the exhibition will be their debut. This is the launch pad that they need to pursue a professional career in arts. The timing is significant in that today is the thematic day for climate change during the Pacific Youth Festival.

Director of the Fiji Arts Council Letila Mitchell said they wanted to put on an exhibition that focused on an issue that linked all Pacific people. "Our totems are our various native species of birds and turtles," she said. "However with issues of climatic change, globalisation and pollution, many of these species are being affected and are facing extinction and/or endangerment. So it was an issue that many artists hold important in their work and, therefore, the theme was something they all wanted to portray."

Mitchell said the exhibition will feature youth artists and about 15 of Fiji's senior artists who will also exhibit alongside the youth artists, "to ensure the connection between our youth and elders and the importance of mentorship and support".

Mitchell believes that if local arts are invested into, there would be no need for imported art.

The youths have been encouraged and mentored by one of Fiji's homegrown favourites, Joe Taoi -- winner of the Fiji Arts Council's Indigenous Art Award in 2005 for his superb painting titled "Oi rau na vuda" a painting which told the story about ancestors who came back from Vuda, Lutunasobasoba and his wife. "We have a lot of God-given talents for artists in Fiji. They just don't have the passion for it yet," Taoi said.

Sairusi Uan-itokalau chose the title "Fijian Wildlife" for his painting acrylic paint on masi (tapa cloth), and hopes the exhibition will build his skills and creativity.

Sevania Delana moulded a clay pot first and then painted a turtle design around it, depicting his title "Pacific Rim."

Taoi said all the youths are based in Martintar Nadi and display some of their art work at Creativiti.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Someone knows which side his bread is buttered on

Pragmatic, practical is the way to dexcribe some of the Macuata people. From today's Fiji Sun.
Province plans to install ice plant

An ice plant project in the Macuata province worth more than $250,000 could be an answer to commercial fishermen’s woes.
Tui Macuata Ratu Aise Katonivere said plans were underway for the province to install a ice plant at Naduri village later this year. This is part of the province’s effort to protect and safeguard its fishing grounds.

Ratu Aisea said once the ice plant was established, the Qoliqoli Cokovata would consider waiving the traditional fishing permits to commercial fishermen.

This he said would apply only if they had established a partnership with the fishermen in terms of utilising its ice plant and employing the people.

Ratu Aisea said the ice plant would ensure all the fishermen from within the Qoliqoli Cokovata would sell their fish to them at the right price.

He said the problems related to unemployment will also be addressed.

“The next level of progress is to build an ice plant for the tikina in terms of resource management. With this ice plant we can collaborate with fishermen to buy our fish and ice,” he said.

“In return if this project goes well and we have a cordial relationship with commercial fishermen than there is a possibility that we will waive the fishing permits issued to them to fish in our qoliqoli.”

Ratu Aisea said the ice plant was also a way for the villagers to realise the maximum benefit of their fish stock.

Currently the sale of fish at the Labasa Market was being scrutinised by 80 voluntary fishing wardens of the Qoliqoli Cokovata.

He said the province was trying to work in compliance with the objectives of government to produce more rather than import sea food in an inclusive manner.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hurrah for Fiji's youth and song - Domo ni Karmen

from w.
Go, the youth of Fiji in getting on with song and culture. It's on now and here's the intro from a website from the French guys.
The French Embassy is proud to announce the staging of Fiji’s first Pacific opera from the 9th to the 11th of July at the Suva Civic Centre.

Domo ni Karmen or Karmen’s voice is a Pacific adaptation of Carmen the most beloved and played opera of all time. In this production musicians and artists have come together to showcase their talents. Domo ni Karmen is directed by renowned musical director Igeles Ete and local playwright and stage director Larry Thomas. Natasha Underwood takes on the role of Karmen with the assistance of dancer and choreographer Ateca Ravuvu.

Georges Bizet’s rich musicology is adapted in a Pacific feat with lali drums, bamboo nose flute, ukeleles and clapping in accord with more classical instruments to create original sounds from Bizet’s famous arias. Musicians from the New Caledonia Conservatoire will also be taking stage.

The original Carmen by French composer Georges Alexandre César Léopold Bizet was performed in Paris in 1875. Carmen is the story of a “femme fatale”, a stunning and manipulative woman who leads men astray by her beauty and dancing. She is a fatalist and a hedonist living entirely for the present moment.

In parallel, Fijian women are too often seen as introvert stifled by rules of men, tradition and religion. Like Carmen beyond their incredible strength and resilience lie passion, cheerfulness and desire.

Thus Domo ni Karmen aims to tell a Melanesian story with the action set in a traditional village. The characters are a representation of everyday life with the arrival of Karmen the city girl, who disrupts the established order of rural women in the village. Behind the Carmen story is the modern woman who strives for equal rights, freedom and acknowledgement in society.

The initiative of Domo ni Karmen was put together by the cooperative work of talents available in Fiji and the Pacific region. The invitation of musicians from New Caledonia is testament of France’s vision to promote cultural exchange and cooperation within the Pacific region.

This production is also a celebration of women and their contribution to life and to our society. We hope that this production will be an inspiration for self-worth and collective self-esteem for women. Youth issues and choices are also highlighted as they journey through life.

Finally we hope that this production will bring tolerance and hope as our humanity is revealed despite our differences of culture and problems in our society. The voice of Karmen in our fast changing society is a challenge to censoring from tradition, religion and racisms. It is also a voice for the protection of basic human rights and reconciliation through music and dance.

And from Fiji Magic today:
Carmen comes to life in Pacific adaptation

Penioni Narube and Natasha Underwood during the Domo ni Karmen Opera show,the first Pacific Opera, at the Civic Centre in Suva.
All time opera classic ‘Carmen’ was brought to life in Suva last night by a 29 year old commerce student in a Pacific adaptation hailed as a perfect rendition of the original French musical.

‘Domo Ni Karmen’ or ‘Karmen’s Voice’ premiered before a full house audience of about 700 including diplomats, lawyers, judges and members of the business community at Suva’s Civic Auditorium.

Artists put on a grand show of their talents to the beating of the lali (Fijian percussion instrument), bamboo nose flute, ukulele (island guitar), clapping and some amazing dancing and singing.

Musicians from the New Caledonia Conservatoire also took the stage giving a performance that left people speechless. etc.

later - from Fiji Times
The Domo Ni Karmen cast ...
Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Cast

Karmen - Natasha Underwood, 30, is a student at USP and mother to two children. She was raised with her seven sisters by a single parent and was taught at a very young age to work hard and always put God first.

Iosefo - Nabotuiloma Komaisavai is a senior research officer at the FNPF and lists his interests as music and "contributing to the betterment of young people." His first musical appearance in church was at age five with his grandparents in the choir.

Mikaela - Akanisi Tuilovoni Bulai, 20, is from Nadona, Dreketi in Rewa. She started singing when she was five years old and has been a regular feature at the Methodist Church choir competition between 1998 and 2008. In 2007, she was named to the U19 Fiji netball team.

Marica - Molly Garfield Powers is an American who came to Fiji in 2005 as a Peace Corps volunteer. After two years in the village of Naiserelagi in Ra, she was hired by Fiji Water as its culture and community affairs co-ordinator based in Yaqara. She is now based in Suva as management for FIJI Water Foundation.

Seini - Matelita Lusiana Gonerogo Bale, 26, started singing at the age of seven and hasn't stopped. She is remembered as the "tiny girl with a big voice" and has taken part in many talent quest and Methodist Church choir competitions.

Eskamilo - Ro Bativuaka Masada Bikavanua Logavatu Vuuikadavu was raised in Fiji and Hawaii and currently works at Fiji TV. He has a long list of interests which include photography, sports, dancing, water activities, fixing and building stuff, analysing and helping people, cooking, driving, travelling, family and performing arts.

Sunia - Penioni Narube is a student at USP. He sings bass with his acapella group, the Four Boys, but this name is changing because the group has increased to 10. He loves Chinese food and says, "the amount of food I can take in at one sitting never ceases to amaze my family and friends. I can eat anything and everything."

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Meanwhile back in Vorovoro

from w
While the shenanigans in Suva get reported or misreported, life in Vorovoro and Mali Islands continues as one day after another in the sun. Here is an interview, courtesy of tribewanted, with Varanisese, a woman from Mali.

The Hammock Society Interview with Francis
Community → Hammock Society Interviews → James Kerridge's blog
By Jimbo, ,
Posted 3 days ago

Jump, jump, bubble and twist if you eat too much sugar it’ll make you go like this. The Hammock Society is buzzing from a sugar overdose thanks to the beauty sitting with me who’s been cooking up plenty pawpaw jam. It is with great pleasure to bring to you the mother of the tribe, the one who’s been keeping you fat and happy, the one and only… Francis.

Bula sia everybody.

What’s it like to be a mother on a remote island?

The mother’s job is very hard. When its five… wake up… make the fire, make tea, scrape the coconut, father is still asleep… after that spread the table and you call the family. Then after that you wash the plate and think about the lunch… need to feed the family three times a day. If no fish, and no man to help… you go pull some cassava and cook. You can rest a little bit after lunch but at three o’clock need to make dinner. If six people in the family, like my family, then its very difficult. But now, all my children grown up… just Chelli at home.

Where did you grow up?

In Hawaii.


That is what we Mali people call Ligulevu… we call it Hawaii because the people very happy there hahahahaha. My mother is from Ligulevu so that’s where we brought up. Now my mother and my daddy all lost and my uncle, only my aunty is there still alive.

Did you grow up in a bure, like the ones we live in here on Vorovoro?

Yes, I live in the bure, many kids stay together… we are nine children plus adults… just one big room, when we sleep girls that side, boys this side and our mum in the middle.

And your mum had to cook for all of those children?

Yes, and my grandmother help. We use the fire, no gas back then, just the fire. When I was a little girl I saw a match for the first time, before the match it can take a long time to light the fire.

Do you miss living inside the bure?

It is difficult to call the man to cut the reeds and coconut leaves and repair the roof. Now its good because we don’t change the roof because the iron on top.

So your mum cooked for many mouths, but they were all Fijian mouths and here you are cooking for an international tribe as Tribewanted’s Head Chef!

Now we know many new foods, before it was only Fijian. We now cook lentil flans, sheppards pie, mashed potato, pizza… hahahahahaha.

Does Poasa like pizza? I bet he loves a margarita!

Hahahaha… we don’t cook pizza for Poasa, he just likes Fijian food. All my family like that, we eat Fijian food. We just have cassava and vundi and another type of banana and green vegetable, we plant some bele, plant some pumpkins, we have fish in the sea. Everything we want, we got it.

How do you catch the fish? Do you use dynamite and blow them out of the water?

Hahahaha, no dynamite. Sometimes… we can use a net to catch the small fish and then use the small fish on the line to catch the big fish… and small hermit crabs make the fish very hungry… the fish love that and we love the fish hahahaha… I put the bait on the hooks and when the fish eat the bait… PULL THE FISHING LINE! Hahahaha… and you be careful you take the fish properly and you bite the head to kill it. Finish hahahahaha…

If I was a fish I would be more scared of you than the sharks!

That’s not just my way, every Fijian lady does that hahahahaha…

Do you eat the fish raw or do you cook it?

You can it eat it roar, sure, but better to fry it in coconut milk, if not you can boil the fish or curry the fish. We eat all parts of the fish, only the bone left hahahahaha… in Fiji the important part of the fish is the head. The chief will always have the fish head, we serve him that, the eyes are very beautiful… ooooo very tasty.

Tui Mali once offered me the eye ball of a big, decapitated fish… when I politely declined he looked like I had just turned down gold.

Yeah, its like that… fish eye very tasty.

Do they teach you mat weaving at school?

No, we just learn this in our family because this is our Fijian custom… when we are small kids we learn from our mum. But now my daughter Chelli, she always runs off when I’m trying to teach her to weave the mat hahahahaha…

How long does it take to make a mat?

First you must grow the tree, then take the part you need and dry it in the sun. Then you boil it, beat it and cut it into the pieces you need. Takes a very long time, not easy… no. Then you begin to weave, the big mat can take two or three weeks to weave… ooooo long time.

I’ve seen many mats get buried with the coffin at funerals… mixing the old burial style with the new. Do you think it’s a waste of time making something that will just be buried and rot away?

Yeah… but you know that’s our Fijian custom, its very important. That’s our last gift to them.

I also heard that in your custom; only the woman cry at funerals. Is this true?

Just the woman cry but its up to the man… if it take their heart, it aches to them… then they can cry.

Your family structures are very interesting to me because they’re very different to what I know. Back home, people are always moaning about their ‘in-laws’ but here in Fiji you cannot speak to the in-laws.

Like myself, I cannot talk or joke to Poasa’s older brother Tui Mali. I’m not allowed to talk to him, that’s our Fijian custom. When his parents were alive I can only speak to the mum, not the father. But only Poasa’s mother angry with me.

Why, were you a naughty girl Francis?

Because… if I’m doing something wrong… carelessly… she talk very hard to me. Its good because I learn more from her, talk very hard but talk straight… when she saw something wrong she talk to me, not to other ladies like that… always talk straight.

You’ve invited many tribe members to visit your church, and some are surprised its not on Mali, instead you travel a little further to the mainland. Why is this?

One of my daughters was very sick… for three years! I took her to every church for the pastor to pray for her but she not get better. I took her in the hospital but they cannot find any sickness… x-rays and everything but no sickness there. After that I hear about the Revival Fellowship and they say if my daughter receive the holy spirit she can get alive… make her better. It was new to me to hear that kind of thing. So I took my daughter there and they pray for her and now she has received the holy spirit she speak in tongues and now the sickness has gone. That was in 2005 and the sickness has not come back.

I was born into a catholic family and during my confirmation ceremony I was waiting for the Holy Spirit, was hoping for some Jedi powers but when the bishop placed the sacrad oil on my forehead… I felt nothing. What does it feel like?

This, one time they pray for me and the pastor touch me and ask me what I want to pray for… please I want to receive the Holy Spirit… I just want to know ay! When they touch me… long time, long time… I just say hallelujah and after that I speak in another tongues. I was filled with happiness, very happy that time. It start from inside, like a wind, very cold in my stomach that’s going round… very happy. I now know that this is true, that’s why we go back to that church.

It sounds like the Revival Fellowship Church has changed your lives, how has Tribewanted impacted on your life?

This island was just one family, but now its very good to us… all the people come from around the world. We thank Alan Kelly very much for bringing us the wind turbine because before… we use the fuel generator and it costs a lot of money. We now have jobs to help pay for schooling, I’m very happy the tribe is here.

What would make you even happier?

Every time I wash by hand, all the kids growing up… washing washing washing… my shoulder very weak now, I would like a washing machine. Maybe some day we can get a washing machine.

Or otherwise your arms might fall off and there’ll be no one to cook pawpaw curry!

Hahahahahaha… yeah that’s right… hahahahaha…

Any last messages for the readers out there?

About half past five in the morning we sit together and sing hymns, if we have power we can play the keyboard hahahahaha…

So bring some ear plugs and get yourselves over here pronto to sample this amazing atmosphere and culture. What’s for lunch Francis?

Pawpaw curry… you favorite ahahahaha…

Yes yes!... its another great day in Vorovoro. If anyone is travelling from the UK and you have some spare room in your luggage for a couple of hammocks, please email – we’ll need more chilling space for the extra visitors next month! And remember readers… chill out, don’t workout. Go Hammocks!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Remembering Michael

from w
For three hours we watched the TV in the middle of the night. The Memorial Service was dignified and some fine words were said. We forgot the eccentricities, the gossip, and recognized a person of great talent and tragedy. Shakespearean almost. Some of Michael Jackson's songs I liked, particularly those he sang as a teenager, then the 'world' songs much later on - such as 'We are the World' and 'Heal the world'.

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

And The Dream We Were
Conceived In
Will Reveal A Joyful Face
And The World We
Once Believed In
Will Shine Again In Grace
Then Why Do We Keep
Strangling Life
Wound This Earth
Crucify Its Soul
Though It's Plain To See
This World Is Heavenly
Be God's Glow

We Could Fly So High
Let Our Spirits Never Die
In My Heart
I Feel You Are All
My Brothers
Create A World With
No Fear
Together We'll Cry
Happy Tears
See The Nations Turn
Their Swords
Into Plowshares

added later - from Fijilive:
Daddy was 'best father' ever: Jackson's girl
July 08, 2009 07:51:24
Michael Jackson's daughter, Paris, paid moving tribute to the late star Tuesday saying at the end of a public memorial here, "Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine."

Meanwhile, civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton told Michael Jackson's children "there weren't nothing strange about your daddy," in a fiery speech at the King of Pop's Los Angeles memorial service. "It was strange what your daddy had to deal with but he dealt with it," Sharpton said, his voice rising in the rich cadence of a sermon. Sharpton castigated those who "like to dig around" and said Jackson's journey to superstardom was more significant that his occasional stumbles and "mess." "Michael rose to the top. He outsang and outdanced and outperformed the pessimists. Every time he got knocked down, he got back up. Every time you counted him out, he came back in. Michael never stopped." Sharpton praised Jackson's message of love, his talent and his work breaking down "the color curtain" and eradicating barriers. "It was Michael Jackson that brought blacks and whites and Asians and Latinos together," Sharpton said Tuesday. "He created a comfort level where people that felt they were separate became interconnected with his music," Sharpton said. "Those young kids grew up from being teenage fans of Michael's to being 40 years old and being comfortable to vote for a president of color to be the president of the United States of America. Michael did that. Michael made us love each other. Michael taught us to stand with each other."

Facebook said that its users were at times firing off 6,000 comments per minute as they watched Michael Jackson's memorial online at CNN Live. "The 6,000 is just for CNN Live," said Facebook marketing directory Randi Zuckerberg. "It is significantly higher than that when you factor in E! Online, ABC, and MTV which each have their own Facebook Connect implementations." Facebook users worldwide were sharing updates and thoughts while watching free streaming video of the memorial at CNN Live, ABC, and E! Online websites.

The same technology used to stream CNN coverage of US President Barack Obama's inauguration -- Facebook Connect -- allowed people to watch the Jackson memorial in CNN Live video players.

Facebook status updates, essentially brief posted thoughts at given moments, related to the inauguration peaked at 8,000 per minute at the start of Obama's swearing-in ceremony. Zuckerberg expects the Jackson tally to eclipse that record. "The most interesting thing is how many people are writing in internationally," Zuckerberg said, referring to Facebook updates from Switzerland, Israel, London, and Barbados posted just seconds earlier.

"The inauguration was certainly a US centered event, and the Jackson memorial seems to have a huge international presence." Facebook posts during the memorial included a user identified as Elycia Cook Okay Brooke of Japan saying "I am at work in my MJ T-shirt trying to get something done between the tears and popping in and off of CNN." Another Facebook user theorized that in many parts of the world, "nothing will be getting done right now."

Michael Jackson memorial: What they said – Quotes

Here are some of the most memorable quotes from Tuesday's tributes to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

"Michael was a giant and a legend in the music industry. And we mourn with the millions of fans worldwide,"
- former South African president Nelson Mandela

"I think like Elvis, like (Frank) Sinatra, like the Beatles, he became a core part of our culture,"
- US President Barack Obama

"God has now called for you to come home, collect your wings and to fulfill your demands in heaven and continue your magic amongst the angels,"
- sister La Toya Jackson

"Michael was a personal love of mine, a treasured part of my world, part of the fabric of my life,"
- soul singer Diana Ross

"Michael was the biggest star on earth,"
- singer and actress Queen Latifah

"With the abrupt absence of our treasure, though we are many, each of us is achingly alone, piercingly alone,"
- words written by poet Maya Angelou and read at his memorial

"Michael Jackson went into orbit and never came down,"
- Berry Gordy, founder of Motown records who launched the careers of the Jackson 5.

"I just don't believe that Michael would want me to share my grief with millions of others. I cannot be part of the public hoopla. And I cannot guarantee that I would be coherent to say a word,"
- actress Elizabeth Taylor, explaining in a Tweet why she would not attend the memorial

Nukutatava near Labasa

from w
Once upon a time, we lived in these bures beside the sea. No bars on windows those days.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Fiji Police and Crime

from w
In today’s Fijilive is an article about the Fiji police. The idea to engage in a pro-active way with the community is commendable, though to use only one church is not good PR. Also, an understanding of why criminals do what they do is surely part of the solution.
Fiji Police is looking to partner more religious groups in the fight against crime……
“The role of police is to detect and prevent crime, but in order to fight crime, we have to first identify the real enemy because only then will you know what weapon to use. And in this case, the real enemy is the evil spirit in people so, this is where the crusade comes in. It’s a crime prevention exercise and also a part of our change in strategy to take the police to the community and to the people,” Tabakau said.
I think criminal activity is much more than ‘the evil spirit in people’.
When I read this I decided to look up the topic of crime on the internet and found some enlightening reading. It is not about an ‘evil spirit’ but is much more complex. The police in a society need to address a multitude of needs to transform society (with other institutions and groups) as much as possible into a safe law-abiding society. Yes, the church does play a part, but not by shouting at people.

Some discussion on the website is about what makes people commit a crime. Here are some of the points raised in the article. It’s too long to repost as it is.
How do some people decide to commit a crime? Do they think about the benefits and the risks? Why do some people commit crimes regardless of the consequences? Why do others never commit a crime, no matter how desperate their circumstances? Criminology is the study of crime and criminals by specialists called criminologists. Criminologists study what causes crime and how it might be prevented. Throughout history people have tried to explain what causes abnormal social behavior, including crime. Some people consider crime and sin the same thing. They believed evil spirits possessed those who did not conform to social norms or follow rules.

By the twenty-first century criminologists looked to a wide range of factors to explain why a person would commit crimes. Reasons for committing a crime include greed, anger, jealously, revenge, or pride. Some people decide to commit a crime and carefully plan everything in advance to increase gain and decrease risk. These people are making choices about their behavior; some even consider a life of crime better than a regular job—believing crime brings in greater rewards, admiration, and excitement—at least until they are caught. Others get an adrenaline rush when successfully carrying out a dangerous crime. Others commit crimes on impulse, out of rage or fear.

The desire for material gain (money or expensive belongings) leads to property crimes such as robberies, burglaries, white-collar crimes, and auto thefts.

The desire for control, revenge, or power leads to violent crimes such as murders, assaults, and rapes. These violent crimes usually occur on impulse or the spur of the moment when emotions run high. Property crimes are usually planned in advance.

Discouraging the choice of crime
The purpose of punishment is to discourage a person from committing a crime. Punishment is supposed to make criminal behavior less attractive and more risky. Imprisonment and loss of income is a major hardship to many people. Another way of influencing choice is to make crime more difficult or to reduce the opportunities.

Parental relations…..
Children who are neglected or abused are more likely to commit crimes later in life than others. Similarly, sexual abuse in childhood often leads these victims to become sexual predators as adults. Many inmates on death row have histories of some kind of severe abuse. The neglect and abuse of children often progresses through several generations. The cycle of abuse, crime, and sociopathy keeps repeating itself. Children who are neglected or abused commit substantially more crimes later in life than others. ‘………………..Supportive and loving parents who respond to the basic needs of their child instill self-confidence and an interest in social environments. These children are generally well-adjusted in relating to others and are far less likely to commit crimes.

Heredity and brain activity
Some studies suggested a genetic basis for some criminal behavior…. In 1986 psychologist Robert Hare identified a connection between certain brain activity and antisocial behavior. He found that criminals experienced less brain reaction to dangerous situations than most people. Such a brain function, he believed, could lead to greater risk-taking in life, with some criminals not fearing punishment as much as others.

(A study of) nmates in state prisons showed very low education levels. Many could not read or write above elementary school levels, if at all. The most common crimes committed by these inmates were robbery, burglary, automobile theft, drug trafficking, and shoplifting. Because of their poor educational backgrounds, their employment histories consisted of mostly low wage jobs with frequent periods of unemployment.

Peer influence
A person's peer group strongly influences a decision to commit crime. For example, young boys and girls who do not fit into expected standards of academic achievement or participate in sports or social programs… may abandon schoolmates in favor of criminal gangs, since membership in a gang earns respect and status in a different manner. In gangs, antisocial behavior and criminal activity earns respect and street credibility. Like society in general, criminal gangs are usually focused on material gain. Gangs, however, resort to extortion, fraud, and theft as a means of achieving it.

Drugs and alcohol
Some social factors pose an especially strong influence over a person's ability to make choices. Drug and alcohol abuse is one such factor. The urge to commit crime to support a drug habit definitely influences the decision process. Both drugs and alcohol impair judgment and reduce inhibitions (socially defined rules of behavior), giving a person greater courage to commit a crime. Deterrents such as long prison sentences have little meaning when a person is high or drunk.

Substance abuse, commonly involving alcohol, triggers "stranger violence," a crime in which the victim has no relationship whatsoever with his or her attackerTreatment focuses on positive support to influence a person's future decision making and to reduce the tendency for antisocial and criminal behavior.

Criminal Justice. (accessed on August 19, 2004).
Read more:

Added later:
There's a 2008 report on crime in Fiji (sounds like from the American Embassy.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Methodist Church Indian Division

from w
The Dandenong Trinity Uniting Church minister, Rev Dr Graeme Sutton has taken a great interest in the Fijians and Fiji Indians in the suburbs of Melbourne and he went to Fiji for a special meeting two years ago. The report by Graeme is given here, as it may not be known by blog readers in distant parts of the world. This is taken from a link at the Dandenong Uniting Church website. There will be another consultation later on this year, this time in Melbourne.

A Report of the 9th International Consultation held at Dilkusha, Nausouri, Fiji, held on 13-15th July, 2007
to Church Council, Trinity Uniting Church Dandenong and to the Dandenong Hindi Fellowship,

Participants from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and from various parts of Fiji began arriving at 4pm on Friday 13th July at the newly erected Assembly Hall at the Dilkusha Girls School. As we registered we were issued with Handbook, a welcoming necklace of shells and a warm greeting. The Consultation theme was Together we can make a difference. During dinner, a typical Fijian spread of Fijian, Rotuman and Indian cuisine, a group of Sunday School children from the Dilkusha circuit provided entertainment.

The welcome service commenced at 7pm in the Dilkusha Church and this featured the welcome of guests, especially all the overseas people, the presentation of the Consultation Banner: a woven mat featuring a Diya, the preaching of a fiery evangelist, David Maclauren from Vancouver and the singing of Methodist hymns and Indian bhajan led by Rev Anil Reuben, the Dilkusha minister.

Following the group photo taken on Saturday morning the day commenced with devotions led by the Canadian contingent and a Bible Study led by Dr Deo Narayan. The focus was on the Scriptural imperative to care for our bodies. We will meet Deo when he comes to Trinity to preach in September. Deo is a retired Dental Health professional now based in Canberra and is the International Co-ordinator of the Consultations.
Rev Bill Lucas, the Divisional Superintendant of the Indian Division of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma presented the Indian Division report concerning the goals and aspirations of the Division, and matters of ministry, membership, ministerial formation and training of lay and ordained. Reports were printed and circulated from Fellowships in Vancouver, Canada; Granville and Ermington in Sydney, Brisbane, Dandenong (see the attached report) and Blackburn in Melbourne, and from Auckland, New Zealand.

Rev Dhirendra Narayan on the Sunday prior to the Consultation indicated that he was now unable to attend and he asked whether I would take his place in presenting the ½ hour Bible Study after lunch. This I did and used Psalm 137 and Lamentations 1 as the theme - “Nostalgia takes away hope for the future.” In this I reflected upon how easy it is for the Church to see itself as a remnant group, shadows of a once glorious church which needs to look forward through the cross to the future of hope and prosperity which is God’s promise.

Following afternoon tea, the Consultation visited Dilkusha Girls Home which is adjacent to the School where we were meeting, and Simon Charan and I presented the cheque of F$3,500 to Deaconeess Olivia, the Matron of the Home.

The founder of the Consultation of Hindi Fellowships is Rev. Daniel Mustapha, now based in Sydney who, together with Rev. Edward Caleb (Canada), were then honoured for their work within Fiji and beyond for Christ and his mission. Again, the dinner was a feast of food provided by the Dilkusha people and music and dance provided by the young people. On a personal note, I was able to be re-acquainted with many of the people, across the age groups whom I had first met when at Dilkusha 15 years ago as part of a Work party.

On Sunday morning we were transported by bus for an hour and a half drive to Navua, the other side of Suva where we participated in a service of worship which marked the formation of a new circuit as well as the opening of a new hall. This service was full of hope as the congregation, which had been meeting for many decades has finally grown to be able to stand on its own resources.

After lunch, we returned to the Davuilevu Theological College where we were greeted by the College Principal and where the Mustapha Niwas was dedicated. This is a house now provided specifically to accommodate a married Indian theological student in training for full time ministry. It is hoped that the Division may be able to provide further such resources to a church that continues to struggle with the Indian component in a dominantly Fijian Church.

On return to the Assembly Hall, Dr. Deo Narayan was again elected as International Co-ordinator for a further term and two presentations were made concerning the venue of the next Consultation - one from a joint proposal by Blackburn and Dandenong for the Consultation to be held in 2009 in Melbourne and the other that it be held at Dudley (Suva) as it is the 10th Consultation and in recogition of the difficulty both finanically and politically of Fijian people being able to come out of the country to attend. However, the decision was that the 2009 Consultation be held in Melbourne and at Dudley (Suva) in 2011.

Following a summary and closing remarks, the Consultation closed with worship, the 60 or so delegates being augmented by about 300 people of the Dilkusha Congregations and the sharing of the Eucharist and a final feast.

There were many needs raised at various times in the Consultation - computers for the Deaconess Training College, a bus to transport them from their base in Suva out to the Theological College, books for Lay Training Centre library and for the B.D. course at Davuilevu College Library. Each of the Congregations had needs and it is a policy of the Consultation that overseas Fellowships adopt a Fijian Congregation as a partner.

In discussion with Simon, it is my belief that we recommend to the Dandenong Fellowship that we could be assistance to the Indian Congregation at Ba. There were a number of reasons for this, both emotional as well as practical:
 there is an immediate need for accommodation for the Deaconess placed there who at present with her teenage son is having to live with the Manse family, and arrangement that stretches resources - there is however the old Matron’s home across the road which, with work on it would be more than admirable.
 Ba is also the home of Veilomani, the Methodist Boy’s Home and Rehabilitation Centre which attracts less attention and support than the more “glamorous” Girls’ Home and they have practical needs of wood working and garden tools.
 there is also a need for assistance in Ba to support of aged care community support.
 Ba is also Simon’s home area and a place where others of our Fellowship have connections.

On the Monday morning following the Consultation, Simon took me to Ba and later in the day we met with Rev. Grace Reuben, the Minister of the Indian Congregation there who spoke of their needs and gave me a copy of the submission prepared for the Divisional Superintendent. Simon and I examined the house and could see some potential and identified work that could be immediately undertaken in order to make it habitable for the Deaconess. I gave some money from my own resources to be used for the purchase of fly-wire for windows, and Simon also made a contribution. On Tuesday morning we visited Veilomani Boys Home and were able to arrange for them to assist with some of the labour for this first part of the work - cleaning and washing of walls (internal and external), roof etc. There may be some possibility of the Dandenong Hindi Fellowship making available some funds to ensure that this work is able to commenced. Veilomani has needs for power tools and wood-working tools, garden tools as well as a program for annual sponsorship of a boy ($300 annually)
It has been a privelege to be part of the Consultation and to re-visit places I had seen before, but now see in a different light. We look forward to taking an active role in the preparation for the Consultation which we suggest be held in Melbourne in probably October 2009. May we continue to follow Christ, loving God and neighbour in word and action as we pray for all these needs and find practical ways of helping and thus respond to the mission of Christ that burns within each one of us. To him be all the praise and glory. Amen.

Rev. Graeme Sutton

The following is a distillation from the report of the Indian Division presented by Rev. Bill Lucas:
It is 15 years since the Indian Division celebrated the Centenary of work in Fiji - and the report reflected on how far it has come in that time. Statistics concerning Church growth show an increase of 400 members in the 15 year period, an increase of 4 in the number of churches and a reduction of 2 preaching points. There has been an increase in the nuk,mber of ordained ministers but a reduction in probationary ministers and deaconesses, pastors but an increase in lay preachers. There has been continued training and equipping of church workers but more work needs to be done in the provision of professional development opportunities. There are continued challenges in education, whilst goals in cross-cultural exposure are still to be achieved. However, all circuits are now financially independent with all paying appropriate levies.

There is a marked emigration from Fiji of Indian families which is affecting circuits and congregations. New goals have had to be set based on a vision statement for the next 10 years: Living and Gossiping the Gospel, All over Fiji. and, in a multi-faith, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society accepts the challenge to elad people to Christ, calling on them to submit to the will of God and Oneness in Christ, thuis rbeaking down the barriers of excuses for differences, discrimination and disunity and enabling spiritual transformation among communities and the healing of the nation.

There has begun an expansion to the program of church planting particularly on Vanua Levu. A program for the developing of new circuits, preaching points, lay preachers and membership has been established with goals and timelines set. Of particular interest is Theological training with a steaduily growing number of Indian people in formal ministerial training programs as Ministers and Deaconesses with attempts to raise the standard of academic formation. Over the next 10 years is a goal to explore the possibility of housing for Indian Division students at Theological College. A Divisional Theological Library is planned to be operational by the end of 2009. Rev James Bhagwan has been appointed by the Conference as Librarian and Assistant Lecturer at Davuilevu Theological College, the first full time Indo-Fijian staff member.

The Consultation agreed on a number of suggestions that would be put to the Indian Division Annual meeting for consideration:
 that all ministers working in the Indian Division learn to be trilingual
 that the study of Indian-Fijian Church History be undertaken in order to learn from the past.
 that the a study of other religions such as Buddhism, Islam and Hindu be encouraged
 that a suitable Hindi speaking minister from India be recruited to work for a term in Fiji
 that an Indo-Fijian minister be made available to do advanced training in India and that scholarships be sought in order to fulfil this goal
 that it is wonderful that all congregations in the Indian Division are multi-racial, but that the 10am service continue to be a Hindi speaking service
Out of this presentation, I believe that Dandenong is in a position to provide some support, especially in the area of the multi-cultural and inter-faith activity as Trinity is very involved in the Dandenong Interfaith Network which has developed materials in the form of a DVD and has published a number of printed material summarising the undergirding aspects of each of the faith communities and a detailed history of the work of the Interfaith Network over the last 20 years. These materials will be sent to the Librarian at Davuilevu Theological College for their use.
Various reports were given and you can see them on the Dandenong Uniting Church website.