Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year in Geelong

from w
Instead of a marathon of church worship, feast, kava drinking and talanoa with our Fiji friends in Melbourne, we decided to stay home with about twenty family and friends. After cool weather we were astonished by the 42 degree heat which meant no wood barbecue but we used a gas barbecue to cook meat - vinaka Epa. Luse from Sydney and Letila were busy in the kitchen. I conked out in the heat. Peceli drank kava and the kids had a great time on the half basketball court, skating, and generally enjoying themselves. I hope all our near neighbours liked loud reggae music. There were fireworks down at the bay at midnight that some of us saw. Luse caught her flight to Sydney as the last passenger on board at 5.40 a.m. and we all slept in. Today visitors came and we drank kava and shared stories and ate leftovers, prawns and kumala. The boys went swimming at Eastern Beach. A lovely New Year but different to the usual.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Naseakula fundraising

Naseakula children on Children's Sunday - a photo I took some time ago.
from w
It's good to see some initiative coming from the people of Naseakula to improve their church building in the middle of the village. It's better to hear local stories than the gossip from the headquarters eh! It constantly amazes (or dismays) me how much money can be raised quickly for purposes that the Fiji people consider important. Even with Christmas over and the New Year starting they can still put money aside for their Methodist Church. It's a wonder we haven't received an email requesting a soli! At a distance life is not so full of such demands as it is when you live nearby! Anyway this overcrowded building does need an upgrade.

Peceli spent part of his childhood in Naseakula and as a teenager loved madly riding a bicycle around the village, which probably was not appreciated. His grandson, now small, is a similar rager on a bicycle, a pink bike he has repainted brown, so we do have to keep a watch out when putting out the washing in our backyard.

Methodists organise fundraising drive
Residents of Nasekula village in Labasa living in various parts of Fiji gathered to raise funds to help in the extension of the Nasekula Methodist Church. Children and adults dressed in bula wear sang special songs and performed dances as part of the day's programme.

The Church was believed to be built in the late 1920s. Church committee member, Jonacani Nawaiqila said the church was built during the colonial era to cater for close to 100 people. "Since then the number of church members have increased and an urgent need for an extension is there," Mr Nawaiqila said. "At the moment the church can only cater for 200 people," he said. Mr Nawaiqila said, the attendance daily at the church is from 800 to 1000 people from all around the Labasa circuit.

He said the villagers have collected close to $40,000 during the period of two years and planning for the extension has begun. For the extension we need $150,000 and this is the reason we had made a formal request and invited the Nasekula people residing in other parts of Fiji to lend a helping hand.

He said the fundraising went well and once they had collected $100,000 the committee would begin the extension probably before mid next year.Northern divisional planning officer and Nasekula Methodist Church advisor, Ratu Eliki Tikoidraubuta and Tui Labasa, Adi Salanieta Tuilomaloma were present at the occasion.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Making a lovo for Christmas

from w
Bula si'a. Far away from Fiji and our land in babasiga it's still possible to make an incredibly good lovo. An underground oven. On Saturday Peceli, a son, and three grandchildren worked very well together from about 6 a.m. to steam our three pieces of pork, some dalo, kumala and potatoes. As it was cooking most of us went off to the local Uniting Church while Epa watched the lovo. By 11.30 the lovo was ready to open and everything was cooked beautifully. Lovely when the men do the main cooking and my daughter-in-law and I prepared shellfish and prawns etc. What is more important is that each generation of men and boys learn how to participate in Fijian cultural traditions such as the making of an underground oven.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Lelean descendant

from w
I noticed in today's Fiji Times a feature article about the research of Kirstie Close in Fiji. Vinaka vakalevu Kirstie to having the persistence and energy to look into church history in Fiji. Good luck with your studies. I think the most interesting part of study is when discovering something, when putting the jigsaw pieces together, to see the courage and strength and failures of people in our history and to learn from that. It is interesting to link up with the story of Ranawai because history is written from a point of view which may be rather biased or prejudiced. I hope that Kirstie's thesis may give some light on the Fiji stories that may have been misrepresented.

Fijian methodist church independence
Saturday, December 25, 2010
I arrived in Fiji on 11 November all set for adventure. I am a PhD student from Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. My thesis is looking at the independence of the Fijian Methodist Church. The starting point of my thesis has a personal element. I am the descendent of some of the Methodist missionaries to Fiji, including the Waterhouses and Leleans. My great-grandfather was Arthur D Lelean. He was the nephew of Charles O Lelean, or 'Uncle Charlie' as my grandma (aka Granny) calls him.

Arthur Lelean came to Fiji in 1918, newly married to my great-grandmother Doris, for their first posting at Niusawa on Taveuni. While they were there my two great-uncles and my grandmother were born. It was after they moved to Nailaga in 1923 that they had my great-uncle Drew. And this is around the point in time that I start my thesis.

As many in Fiji will know, Apolosi Ranawai was a big influence in these parts. In 1923 he returned from his first exile in Rotuma. I knew there had been suggestions from historians that Arthur Lelean had been working alongside Apolosi Ranawai but it was not really clear as to how or why.

I was fortunate to be accompanied by Deaconess Unaisi Matawalu to Nailaga where we began a series of meetings throughout Ra province to see if we could get to the bottom of this supposed collaboration between Apolosi and Arthur. I wanted to know exactly what they had been up to.

I definitely need to thank Deaconess Matawalu, but also to the Talatalas and their families at Nailaga and Tavua, and also at Lautoka for being so hospitable as we went on our journey.

My Fijian language skills are pretty hopeless (though I am happy to report they have improved since I got here!) and so without the Deaconess I would have been in big trouble.

We had our first clue as to what Arthur was doing at Nailaga. We visited the matanivanua who told us that Apolosi and Arthur had lived as neighbours, with a road dividing their homes, which faced each other. We thought this to be quite significant and a sign that they at least must have known each other and kept an eye on what the other was up to.

We also went to Votua where we learnt of a healing practice used by healers connected to Apolosi that was very similar to the practice that Arthur used when back in Victoria, where he returned in 1936. He had said that he learnt the skill while in Fiji - could he have learnt it from Apolosi?

On we went to Tavua, where the Talatala kindly accompanied us to Yaladro. I had known that here, Arthur Lelean had assisted in the establishment of an independent farming scheme for Fijians. This involved the movement of Fijians from their original villages to these designated areas to work the land, particularly to do sugar cane farming.

We spoke for a while with one of the elder men at Yaladro. He knew of Arthur, and spoke about his work with their chief, Ratu Nacanieli Rawaidranu. Rawaidranu sounds like a fascinating man - educated as a surgeon at the Fiji School of Medicine he had tended to this man at one stage in his life.

This man told us too, that there had been an agreement signed on 29 September 1929 between Ratu Rawaidranu, Arthur Lelean, Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna and Mr Abraham from the Colonial Sugar Refinery to say that the community at Yaladro and Toko would be independent farmers.

The community faced extremely hard times to start with, with hunger and poverty reflected in the names of their children (Osoto - meaning 'patience'; and Kanawai - 'eat water').

Part of the agreement, in addition to the idea of those in the community being exempt from communal duties to their villages, was to establish an independent, Fijian Methodist Church.

This was supposedly the aim for missionaries wherever a mission was established, but sometimes it seemed like incredibly slow going to achieve that independent status. Arthur and Rawaidranu agreed that 500 pounds and 100 tabua would be collected to present to Synod as a means of requesting an independent church.

The money and tabua were presented in 1941, however the request was denied as it was not supported by chiefs or missionaries from other parts of Fiji.

The war was also seen as a hindrance.

After these initial interviews, the Deaconess and I parted ways so that she could get to her business with the church and I to my archival research at the National Archives of Fiji.

There is a wealth of information at the archives and I strongly encourage anyone who has an interest in the history of Fiji to visit them.

I had attained permission from the Methodist church to look at their archives and so was able to read the correspondence from and to Arthur Lelean through this period, and also right up to the point when the church became independent in 1964. This was all very enlightening and thickened the plot a bit. There were letters from 'Uncle Charlie' to say that the serpent had gone to Melbourne to meet with Arthur and Doris while they were in Australia on furlough.

I still have not quite figured out who the 'serpent' is, but I think it was probably some reference to Apolosi. So, the plot thickened!

While in Suva I took the opportunity to meet with the leaders of the Methodist Church, past and present, and am so grateful for the time that I spent with them and also at Wesley church. I am hoping that my research will be of interest to them.

After speaking with them I have decided to try and extend my research past the point of the church's independence, up to the point where Reverend Josateki Koroi was the elected President. It should make for a very rich study into the church's history.

After three weeks in the archives, I met with the Deaconess again, this time at Lautoka. We travelled over to Tavua again, where the Talatala and his family once more looked after us. We spent a very special evening at Toko where we discussed the history of the farming scheme once more. We learnt a lot here about Ratu Rawaidranu and the agreement that was made between him and Arthur.

We also met with some of the great-grandchildren of Apolosi Ranawai. While I still am not 100 percent sure of their working together, I think our great-grandfathers had similar interests in promoting economic progress for Fijians through business and particularly agriculture.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Respite in the Christmas Eve city

from w
Every city certainly needs gardens, trees, seats, and churches for respite from the hard concrete pavements, the brash advertising and people calling to you to buy in the $2 shops in Swanston Street, Melbourne. We were up there this morning on a 5 minute errand and I dislike the city environment so I persuaded my family with me to go inside the cool St Pauls Cathedral where we lit candles in remembrance of absent family long gone. And I'm sure that Christmas is not a happy time for many people where there are all kinds of troubles and anxieties. A city church gives us a space to breathe slowly and in the darkness of the gothic styled St Paul's it was an important stopover for us. And Macdonalds icecream went down well also!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The turning point of time

from w
Though the date of December 25th isn't necessarily the exact date of the birth of Jesus Christ, as some church leader many centuries ago declared the day to be Christ-mass, a celebration. It actually was related to the northern summer solstice and the Sun. However through the centuries it has become the Christians special day. So, how do we celebrate it? Worship, carols, quietness, family feasts, story-telling, gifts particularly for the children. It's not a day for shopping. Okay, I know that times are hard and money is ever important, but in Fiji Christmas does have significance for most of the population. It is disappointing to read that there is confusion over whether shops can or cannot open.

From one of the Fiji media outlets I read that municipal administrators can be flexible in allowing the day to be a trading day, though Suva City Council say the shopkeepers will need a special permit. Monday and Tuesday are also holidays. Okay, there are some people who do have to work - in hospitals, taxi-drivers, hotels where there are tourists, but generally it still ought to be 'shop-free'.

From a Fiji Times story comes the view of a highly respected leader, Fei Tevi.

Tevi: Respect Christmas day

Friday, December 24, 2010
THERE has been a call for businesses to respect the setting aside of the 25th December as the day Christians worldwide celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) general secretary Fe'iloakitau Tevi said businesses should not discriminate against workers who do not turn up to work on Christmas Day, by not paying them. He called on the line ministry to ensure the rights of believers in the workplace were protected.

"There should be a respect for religious beliefs and ordinances from employers that should not impinge on the rights of believers of any faith who may want to attend religious services and spend a religious day of celebrations with their families," he said.

"This is one day in the year that is so special in the Christian calendar, and it should not be overwhelmed and dictated by the blind pursuit for profit of businesses and the private sector."
One of my favourite Christmas theme songs is called 'The Turning Point of Time' written by an Australian composer. It starts off with these words:

The stillness of anticipation
cradles tiny Bethlehem;
silent now in preparation
for the miracle of birth.
all creation, hushed, expectant,
waits a baby's cry;
born in all simplicity
at the turning point of time.

And one of my favourite Fijian carols is 'Matanisiga'

Of course the story of Christmas isn't complete. There's the whole life of Jesus when he lived on earth, the gentle man of God whose intuition of human frailty and need for healing has changed the world for ever.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Not scared of the red moon but

from w
Last night there was an eclipse of the moon seen in Fiji as bright red but this doesn't scare the chooks, the turkeys, the little pigs, as much as the idea of Christmas feasting next Saturday. The chooks of Fiji, the turkeys of USA and the little pigs of Tonga are running scared. I think a vegetarian Christmas would be a nice change, but I know it won't happen in our household. We'll pick up a bag of Fiji dalo, buy some pork, chickens, and do what we usually do which is to make a lovo. Prawns though might be nice. We'll have only about eight people, though another seven threaten to arrive!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Celebrities and privacy

from w
Yesterday I posted on some gossip about Oprah booking in two weeks at Likuliku Resort on Malolo Island after a Facebook contributor spilled the beans, but then I deleted it because really a celebrity should have some privacy perhaps? Anyway, the second story is that she'll be at Laucala Island near Taveuni which is even more private, away from the milling crowd. Certainly a millionaire's holiday spot. Staff at Fiji resorts in Fiji are told not to gossip about the whereabouts of who is where and not to take photos. If they breach the conditions they can not only be sacked but they may be sued if they sell a photo to the media. So if it's Laucala good luck to the staff there who will have interesting guests but a warning - no photos! Though Oprah in a liku or a sulu would be a very good shot!
Oprah due in Laucala Island within the next few hours
Publish date/time: 16/12/2010 [15:10]

Talk show Queen and legend, Oprah Winfrey is expected to jet into the exclusive Laucala Island within the next few hours. Fijivillage has received confirmation that Oprah will spend a few days on the island with her partner, Stedman Graham.

Despite hinting she may visit Egypt before returning home from Australia the couple told those in their closest circle they will stay at a private, luxurious Fijian resort. Her businessman boyfriend of 24 years, Graham will fly halfway across the world to reunite with his partner. Oprah and Graham will fly into Laucala on the private jet of the owner of Laucala island who is also the owner of the popular energy drink, Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz.

Laucala, a seven star haven, was formerly owned by publishing magnate Malcolm Forbes. Placed in the top hundred of the most beautiful hotels and resorts in the world by Hideaway Hotels, Laucala was redeveloped by its new owner at a staggering 30 million dollars. Located about 45 minutes by plane from Nadi International Airport, Laucala Island which is near Taveuni was a coconut plantation for nearly a century.

The 3,000 acre atoll is now a study in tropical gardening, with hillsides thick with herbs and vegetables, as well as fruit bearing plants that supply the shot glass portions of fresh juices that attendants serve to guests throughout the day.

Visitors stay in thatch roofed villas, each with its own swimming pool, set along the mountainous island's beaches and cliffs. The accommodation rate for a night goes as high as US$26,000 which is for the Hilltop Residence located 360 feet above sea level. Fijivillage has also been told that if a guest wants to book the whole island for 7 days for only themselves, the charge is US$1 million.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

One day at a time

from w
Some news about the Fiji Methodist Church and one day meetings for next year. A conference in a day, vakatotolo indeed. Therefore a disconnect with the vanua greetings and leisurely meals. I remember the time the conference was held at Cuvu when there was a large amount of time spent on ceremony, reviving old customs, and a very real connection wtih the vanua. Well, this time it's business only. Some say a good thing. From Fiji FBC this evening
Fiji Methodists to meet in August 2011
Monday, December 13, 2010
The Methodist Church will now hold their annual conference in August next year – but only for a day. Church assistant General Secretary Rev Tevita Nawadra says this was decided in their meeting this afternoon. The 'Bose Vula Tolu' – or quarterly meeting will be held in March next year and the 'Bose Vakayabaki' – or annual meeting of each division will be held in May 2011. The dates were decided after government last week gave the Methodist Church approval to hold their meetings. Rev Nawadra is urging church members to adhere to the conditions of the approval of the meeting. The 3 meetings will have to be held in a day each. The annual conference is usually held over a week – with the annual bazaar – to raise money for the church’s operations and on-going activities. Rev Nawadra adds - the annual bazaar will not be held next year. The meetings were initially banned last year on the grounds that political subjects would be discussed - and could lead to trouble.

Has Toorak, Suva, changed much?

from w
Here's an old drawing of the mosque in Amy Street, Toorak, when I was living at the back of a house on a hilltop opposite Jubilee Hall. What sounds there were in that street from the choir practicing doh, ray, me, to the calls from the mosque and the household radios over the road.I was teaching at that time at the nearby Dudley High School. I wonder where the Brown family are these days, and Elizabeth? We had lots of fun those days living in Toorak, no locks on doors, safe to walk around the city day or night.

Friday, December 10, 2010

church meeting in Labasa

from w
The journalists from Labasa are energetic and contribute daily to the Fiji media which is a bonus for readers of babasiga blog where we can post on interesting pieces of news such as this one from the Fiji Times. And of course Rev Bhagwan is a prolific writer in the media. Way to go.
Human dignity and justice

Padre James Baghwan
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Bula si'a from Labasa!

I am in my motherland to lead a series of Bible Studies at a workshop for churches on Human Rights, Good Governance and Leadership, organised by the Pacific Conference of Churches.

It is good a privilege to have this opportunity to participate in this workshop and share some biblical and theological reflections on human rights. It is also a rare opportunity to visit my mother's hometown, (the L.A. of Fiji to some) and meet up with family and close friends.

Close to sixty young people, lay workers and clergy from Labasa and around Vanua Levu have gathered at St. Mary's Hostel, in Labasa to explore human rights in the context of the church and cultural traditions, using local examples as case studies to enhance learning.

According to Mr. Raju Fong who is responsible for the PCC Human Rights programme, the workshop will also focus on the UN Declaration of Human Rights and other important conventions on human rights.

"Our experience so far is that people understand what human rights, and our goal is to contextualise human rights for their culture and faith," said Mr. Fong.

This year workshops were held in Suva, Samoa, Kiribati, Maohi Nui (Tahiti), Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. There are plans for a workshop on climate change and Human Rights in Labasa in 2012.

Mr. Fong added, "The participants come from churches, they shy away from secular discussions on human rights, but when you link it to their faith, through bible studies and discussions on Christian understandings of justice, mercy, compassion and other core Christian principles, then they begin to understand that Human Rights is not a foreign concept but something that is in fact close to their hearts."

The objectives of the Human Rights Programme of the Pacific Conference of Churches are:

· To deepen understanding on human dignity and human rights.

· To create awareness of Christian responsibilities towards the protection and promotion of human rights.

· To increase the scope for social action on human rights issues by churches and their members.

On the workshop began on Monday with a devotion led by Father J.J. Ryan. The Citizens' Constitutional Forum made a presentation on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and I shared on the biblical and theological foundations of Human Rights.

Yesterday, Aisake Casimira, Programme Manager for PCC shared with participants on the key concepts of consent, consultation and participation in the area of governance and leadership.

Sessions will also be held on Violence against Women, the Rights of Children and the role of the churches on human rights, good governance and leadership issues.

The understanding of human rights as a Christian responsibility lies in the understanding from the human rights perspective that every human being is worthy of respect and has the right to live in dignity.

Our first bible study focused on humankind being created in the image of God, (Imago Dei) based on the text from Genesis a central book in the Judeo-Christian-Muslim scriptures.

Genesis 1:27 reads as: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

This passage reminds us that every man and woman is made in the image and likeness of God.

The term Imago Dei denotes image and likeness of God.

The scriptures teach us that in the creation of humankind God stated, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." God made "man" in his image and likeness, because of this there is a certain dignity or worth of the human person.

For Christians, our God, is a creator, a "Father" to us all. As a result, all humans are brothers and sisters. Humans are unique and related to others in a common origin, ancestry, common physiology and psychology. This basically means we have the same working parts and experience the same range of emotions.

One of the central faith statements for Christians is found in the Gospel of John chapter 3 verse 16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)" Christians believe that the Christian God is the God of every race and every human being. Jesus therefore died on the cross for the whole world.

All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination are, for that reason, an insult to the work of Christ on the cross. Jesus commands us to love one another as He loves us (John 13:34). If God is impartial and loves us with impartiality, then we need to love others with that same high standard.

Jesus teaches in Matthew 25 that whatever we do to the least of His brothers, we do to Him. If we treat a person with contempt, we are mistreating a person created in God's image; we are hurting somebody whom God loves and for whom Jesus died. From our love of God and love of our neighbour, flow the respect, compassion and thirst for justice, that are expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

On Friday, 10th December, the world celebrates International Human Rights, there will be speeches and rallies and concerts and events all over the world to mark this important day.

In Labasa the workshop participants will join in an ecumenical church service to commemorate this day.

The prophet Isaiah called people to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter--when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood."(Isaiah 58:7).

If you live in Labasa and what you have read strikes a chord in your soul, you are welcome to attend the Human Rights Day Ecumenical Church service at 10am at St. Thomas Anglican Church on Nasekula Road, Labasa's main street.

May the rest of your week be blessed with Mishpat (justice); Hesed (steadfast love); and Shalom (peace).

nReverend J.S. Bhagwan is a member of the Faculty at Davuilevu Theological College and the Associate Minister of Dudley Methodist Circuit in Suva.

This article is the sole opinion of Rev. J.S. Bhagwan and not of this newspaper or any organisation that he is affiliated with.


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Suva and Lautoka Sketches

from w
Old drawings resurrected - of Centenary Church and from the back steps of Dudley High School teachers' quarters, Nabukalou Creek, and the 'lines' Lautoka - are here changed a little using computer imaging. Mostly I used oil pastel in the originals and they are rather heavy-handed.

Education is for adults also

from w
I was happy to read in the Fiji Times that computers are also being used by the mothers as well as the children from Namuka. When child and adult education goes hand in hand that is excellent. Sometimes there is such a gap between the kind of things children can do and that of their parents. When both learn to use computers that is a plus. Thank you Serafina for picking up this story.
Back to School

Serafina Silaitoga
Thursday, December 09, 2010

Women from Visoqo village at their computer class at the University of the South Pacific Labasa centre. THE expressions on their faces were of excitement and enthusiasm as eight village women got their hands on a computer keyboard for the first time. The women hail from Visoqo Village and are part of the Visoqo Village women's club in Namuka, Macuata.

They started their computer course at the University of the South Pacific's Labasa campus this week and were overwhelmed about their enrolment. They described the course as an interesting program that boosted their confidence to continue studies. Club president Ana Vika said tuition fees were paid by the American Government as part of a grant to the club. "The US Embassy gave us five computers as part of the grant. The members get to attend the computer course and learn more about the computing so that we can teach students of Visoqo District," she said. "The school library was a project of the club and the European Union helped set up a solar system in the school to provide electricity for the computers."

American Peace Corps Scott Gaston helped arrange the grant for the women. He said it was about time that children in rural areas were given the best education. "I am excited for these children. While being in that village and school as a Peace Corps volunteer, I want to help them get the best in education," Mr Scott said.

"The children of Visoqo deserve it so we will continue to strive for the best in education and give it to these children because we want them to have a successful future."

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Tourists going to Lau

from w
I thought I'd never see the day when tourists are going to the Eastern islands of Fiji - to Lau. I assumed the Lauan people don't want the disturbance of strangers peeking inside their villages and so on. Well, the tourists are going there - perhaps viewing much of the area from the comfort of a luxury boat, but it's a change alright.
From Fijimagic
Fiji offers maiden cruise to Lau
Bue Lagoon Cruises, Fiji Islands has created a world-first tourism opportunity by offering cruises to the 'untouched' Lau group. Tourists visiting Fiji will now have an opportunity to witness first-hand the beautiful Lau group of islands with Blue Lagoon Cruises, the first operator to cruise the ‘untouched’ archipelago. The decision to sail into this region is seen as catalyst for a new and exciting chapter for Fiji tourism.

Blue Lagoon Cruises CEO Tim Stonhill said the new Lau cruise represented a tremendous opportunity for cruise lovers seeking something very different, to experience a beautiful part of the world not normally experienced by international tourism.

“Not only will our passengers be some of the first people to visit this pristine region, they will also be presented with a rare insight into four ancient, unique and living cultures – Melanesian, Micronesian, Polynesian and Lauan,“ he said.

“Our decision to sail into this region opens up a new and exciting chapter for Fiji tourism.”

“At the same time by operating this program in a very controlled manner we are helping to create a sustainable and environmentally responsible tourism opportunity to the benefit of all Lauan people.”

Echoing Stonhill’s words, the Chairman of The Vanua Balavu Tourism Council, Jone Vave, whose committee has played a major role in helping to make the new program possible, said he is over the moon with Blue Lagoon Cruises’ decision to begin cruising into the region.

“Everyone here is thrilled and very excited with this development and the opportunity it presents for us to present our unique culture, history and unspoiled natural environment to the world,” he said.

Tourism Fiji chief executive Josefa Tuamoto told Fijilive they were pleased with the move by Blue Lagoon Cruises to include the Lau group in its itinerary.

This he said, is well within governments’ policy of encouraging the growth of tourism into rural areas. "This will hopefully assist in drawing tourism investment into the Lau group," Tuamoto said.

From 16 May 2011, the boutique cruise specialist’s 35-berth MV Mystique Princess will set sail on its inaugural voyage to the Lau Islands as part of a seven-day itinerary.

The ship’s crew will be complimented by a local cultural expert who will join the voyage to provide presentations and background on the unique regions to be visited en route.

Highlights of the Lau visit, visited by Captain James Cook in 1774, include Qilaqila Island, the jewel in the crown of the Lau group’s ‘Bay of Islands’. This is where passengers will in effect be among the first ever humans – certainly the first non-Fijians - to have swum in these crystal clear waters where visibility extends beyond 80 feet.

Pricing for the seven-day cruise program starts from FJD4305 per person twin share.

Source:Blue Lagoon Cruises, Fiji Islands.
I wonder how much of the FJD4305 goes to the people of the islands in Lau?

Should Fiji Hindi be Shudh Hindi?

from w
The people in Labasa and surrounding cane-field area speak the local Fiji Hindi which has developed over the past 120 years of separation from the 'Mother' State of India. However some people say that the local Hindi is a diminished form of the language and especially when the script is changed to Roman, they shrug their shoulders and dismiss it. I recall that when Peceli was working in the Indian Division of the Methodist Church in Fiji his familiarity of 'local' Hindi wasn't enough for the powers that be and they sent him to a missionary to learn the 'real' Hindi as that was expected in the preaching. Hmmm.

Here are two letters to the Editor of the Fiji Times - with the differing views.
Shudh Hindi
HINDI is the official lingua franca of all Indians who were born or originated from India. There is a specific script used to write in Hindi.

Although there are many dialects best suited by the masses to communicate within India and outside, however, in reference to speaking in 'Hindi', there is no such thing as Fiji Hindi, Australian Hindi, US Hindi, etc.

Every effort should be made to speak (sudh/Kadhi or pure) Hindi as known in India, as distinction is made with whom you are conversing with.

The use of aap (to address anyone elder to you), maaf karna (when been apologetic) is used in sudh Hindi. It's an accepted fact that when one speaks shudh Hindi, one endeavors to be mindful of the words they speak, with whom they are conversing with.

Lucknow India

Fiji Hindi
IT seems Rebecca Singh and many others are confused with standard Hindi and Fiji My call to teach Fiji Hindi and write it using Roman alphabets is not a threat to standard Hindi or to the Devnagri system of writing. Fiji Hindi is our mother tongue and not standard Hindi.

Mother tongue is the language a child acquires while growing up which for Fiji Indians is Fiji Hindi. Standard Hindi has its own place and will continue to play an active role in all religious and traditional functions. The call to write Fiji Hindi in Roman alphabet is simple. It is known by all and can be used as an easy way of putting thoughts on paper.

Currently most kirtan and bhajan singers write their words using Roman alphabets.
There is a lot of confusion among the Fiji Hindi speakers that standard Hindi is the correct form of Fiji Hindi. It is not.

Few years ago when the Ministry of Education introduced conversational Hindi it was surprising to see that it was not conversational at all. It was standard Hindi.
For instance since when Fiji Hindi began marking gender in verbs. It only happens in standard Hindi. So my question is if the Fiji Indians do not mark gender in verbs then why should teachers of other races be asked to learn that.

Finally I am a proud speaker and reader of standard Hindi but the fact remains my mother tongue is Fiji Hindi. Let's make it legitimate. It is a language spoken by all but loved by none.
Faculty of arts and Language

added on 11 December from letter to the editor, Fiji Times.
Standard Hindi

I REFER to the ongoing debate on Fiji Hindi versus standard Hindi.

Naturally, we speak fluent Fiji Hindi and rise up to the occasion to speak standard or pure Hindi where required, normally in formal situations.

Fiji Hindi is sporadically spoken in formal situations to crack a joke.

I see nothing wrong in maintaining this while also not feeling embarrassed about our mother tongue which is Fiji Hindi.

My only issue is, will there be some accommodation in any written text to give legitimacy to the Labasa version of Fiji Hindi?

As a Labasia, I use words such as aawa and gawa instead of aaya and gaya, which is mainly for Suva-sias.

I would like to differentiate myself as a Labasia from a Suvasia as far as language is concerned.

Even in India, there are various dialects within Hindi and any attempt to recognise Fiji Hindi will be futile without recognising the few differences that exist in various regions of Fiji.


Saturday, December 04, 2010

Vinaka Fei

from w
There are intelligent, outstanding men and women in Fiji quietly going about doing their work and who don't seek publicity. Such a thoughtful person is Fei, the son of our friend Lorini Tevi. Fei says something about the various churches that emphasise numbers, huge buildings. Perhaps they ought to meditate upon some of the words from Isaiah 61.

Isaiah 61:1-11

61The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.

4They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. 5Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, foreigners shall till your land and dress your vines; 6but you shall be called priests of the Lord, you shall be named ministers of our God; you shall enjoy the wealth of the nations, and in their riches you shall glory. 7Because their shame was double, and dishonor was proclaimed as their lot, therefore they shall possess a double portion; everlasting joy shall be theirs. 8For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 9Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.

from Fiji FBC.
PCC concerned at increasing church groups
Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) has expressed concern at the increasing numbers of new church groups in Fiji. General Secretary – Fei’loa-ki-tau Tevi says many Christian beliefs are coming up and are causing disturbances to the people’s way of life.

Tevi told FBC News – the different teachings are causing people to drift away from the right course of Christianity. He says the fundamental belief of Christianity is social justice in which we should care for the vulnerable, excluded and the poor and not the rich people.

“Your belief as a Christian is more than just praises, the way you understand yourself as a Christian is more than just every Sunday I go to church, more churches are coming, groups and movements and we are not in the business of saying this is ours and you don’t come in , no, what we are saying is to try to improve the lives of people but if you just come in for the sake of building churches and hence having more people and more members, there is no point because you are just doing more harm then doing good.”

Tevi adds Christianity should bring togetherness and oneness to the people and assist on the development of the socio – economical growth in the country.

Report by : Sekope Toduadua

Friday, December 03, 2010

Fiji Geelong Friendship Club Picnic

from w
Today we had our Christmas breakup of the Fiji Geelong Friendship Club by having a barbeque at the Barwon Valley Park near the river. Unlike yesterday when we had a kind of hurricane in the late afternoon, it was a lovely sunny day. We had about thirty people there and the children enjoyed the parkland, adults drank kava, and we had a delicious lunch.