Friday, February 25, 2011

Lomaiviti dancers in Geelong

photo from Geelong Advertiser Monday 28th - for more photos go to Geelong Advertiser website;

from w
Today is the Pako Festa in Geelong and there are about 200,000 people celebrating diversity and multiculturalism in our city today. Including of course the Fijians and this year it is a group of people with connections to Lomaiviti - our tauvu. From 11 a.m. the parade started so here are some pictures from the beginning of the parade. I noticed one flag upside down, but of course these are Lomaiviti people, not babasiga! Peceli and I joined in for half the distance! We all adjourned to the old Uniting church hall in Pakington Street (now Bethel-Baptist people are there) and instead of eating ethnic food we ate tuna sandwiches and drank Diet Coke! The main Fijian dance program will be on about 3.30 p.m. and afterwards there'll be a barbecue here. (Peceli and I are resting for one hour at present.)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Journos and disasters - how much do we need to know

from w
When journalists cover a major disaster story - floods, cyclones, earthquakes, they seem to often intrude into the privacy of traumatised people, photographing them close-up, asking stupidly obvious questions, even catching them when being told their mother or relative has been found dead. It is an appalling intrusion into privacy. Just how much do we, the public, need to know. Okay, we do need to read the news, to know what has happened, to sympathize, empathise, with the people who are suffering. One Channel Seven face was there in Christchurch very quickly and giving his over-the-top version of events. He did the same thing when the two men trapped underground in the Tasmania mine were coming out - he even jumped inside the ambulance! We need to hear the New Zealand stories from New Zealand reporters this week as the terrible story unfolds of the earthquake. Stories go wrong at times too, reporting that several Fijians have died, but that was later discounted. Also, when a TV program shows the visual images there's no need for a voice-over, the sight of the destruction speaks for itself. Some bits are repeated dozens of times and in the end we turn away, turn off the TV, and look for something positive instead. I think the photo of the couple in front of their destroyed house is relevant though because many of us can empathize - imagining 'what if' this happened to us and our dream home.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's not unusual to have floods in Labasa

from w,
Once again there are floods after heavy rain in many parts of Fiji including Labasa. The town area, as we all know, has been built on a swamp area, very low-lying and many villages and farm settlements are alongside rivers. Schools closed from many on Friday, buses did not run and some bridges closed. It's not unusual to have such floods in Labasa. However enterprising people know this and have special shelves built into their ceilings to put their precious belongings if their houses become flooded. One photo here is a resident at Naodamu, and the other is of the road to Malua.
from today's Fiji Times
Quick action saves belongings

Serafina Silaitoga
Saturday, February 19, 2011
WITH no time to waste, Labasa residents in flood-prone areas took their household goods and belongings to higher ground รน bracing for the flashfloods that hit Babasiga yesterday. At Naodamu, a known flood-prone area, water levels rose quickly covering parts of the concrete stairs outside the Public Rental Board flats.

When The Fiji Times visited the area, resident Manoa Tora was busy tying their settee to the ceiling to avoid getting wet from floodwaters. Inside their room, bags of clothes and mattresses were tucked onto shelves built near the ceiling. Mr Tora said they were always affected by floodwaters over the past four years. "It's not an easy thing to go through especially when we have children and to have all our things in the house like fridge, settee, beddings and especially clothes go underwater," he said. "After experiencing the first flood in 2007, which was really bad, I decided to build a shelf just under the ceiling and we have used that over the past years to keep our household goods away from flood."

Other residents stood outside their houses, staring helplessly at the floodwaters rising steadily to their doorsteps.

Another resident, Kelemete Koroimudu said they had packed their household items away safely and prayed the floodwaters would not enter their homes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The nokonoko tree

from w
A neighbour asked us to cut down a large branch of his nokonoko (casuarina, she-oak) tree that came across our compound and then over a shed in another neighbour's back yard. In a suburb you don't hear the sounds of the nokonoko sighing that you may notice along a Fiji beach. The sighing can be both romantic or sad as a gentle breeze moves the branches. The tree doesn't have the usual leaves at all.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Vinaka Julie

from w
Letters to the Editor just ain't what they used to be under the pall of 'correctness' but Julie's letters are sometimes a treat - about everyday life in Fiji - like the Lautoka correspondent who writes well of the ups and downs of life in the West. Anyway, Julie, I'd like to add a comment about a bus trip we took from Nadi to Suva. The video showing was the one with Keanu Reeves in it about the bus that was going to explode! Entitled 'Speed'!
Lucky to be alive
from Fiji Times letters - today

I FEEL lucky to be alive after yesterday's experience (16/2/11).

I hopped on a bus at the CWM Hospital for the city. It was the most frightening experience; flashing before my eyes were graphic shots of buses that had overturned, careered into rivers, caught fire, had brake failure and sped downhill out of control into power poles, all rolled into one.

The speed at which this driver travelled was excessive at the best of times. I would describe his driving style as being that of a maniac. We were like rag dolls jerking back and forward.

I looked at the driver's eyes; there was aggression there.

There was fear on every passenger's face; their hands gripping the rails of the seats in front.

With the accelerator hard to the floor we rounded the bend at Sukuna Park.

Those seated on the left were almost in the laps of those on the right who in turn were almost thrown out the windows. A sudden stop at the Suva Civic Centre bus stop sent us nearly into the driver's lap.

As we got to the bottleneck at the lights along the port, I thought the driver was really pushing his luck expecting other bus drivers to let him in.

They must have known him as there was no way they were going to show any courtesy toward him in the slightest.

On the final lap it was a race to the finish. As if he wasn't satisfied in achieving a record time for the journey, the driver blasted his horn to tell drivers in front of him to inch up.

I left the bus during this time with my hands over my ears in a vain attempt to muffle the noise.

I know I should have recorded his PSV number and noted the bus line and registration plate.

On this occasion the driver can live another day. I just had to get away from it all and take some deep (diesel fume saturated) breaths of air.


At Viseisei

from w
The Fiji radio broadcast part of the funeral of the late Tui Vuda, the first part not coming over, but the part inside the church was very clear and we were able to hear the speakers and choirs. One item in the Fiji Sun was significant and necessary and is part of many funeral services these days - a kind of reconciliation and acknowledgement of actions that may have hurt people.
‘Forgive us’

The Vanua of Vuda sought forgiveness from the Methodist Church of Fiji on behalf of their late chief Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda yesterday. This was done during the funeral church service for Ratu Iloilo which was held at the Jone Wesele Memorial Church in Viseisei. The traditional presentation was made by village elder Kitione Matabogi beside the casket of the late Ratu Iloilo. He asked for the church’s forgiveness if the Turaga na Tui Vuda committed any wrongdoings.

The presentation was done soon after the prayer by Methodist Church former president Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca.

Ratu Iloilo was Vice-President of the church in 1997 and he had been a lay-preacher for more than 40 years.

He was accorded a state funeral. More than 4000 people turned up to bid farewell to the late Tui Vuda.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bulumakau - bulls and moo cows

from w
I was puzzled by this news headline about 'cattles' then wondered why lady 'cattles' must be saved from the abbatoirs and not the bulls! I wonder then how many will be slaughtered in the West during the coming week.
The article is in Fiji FBC news on-line.
Ban on slaughter of cattles
Publish date/time: 13/02/2011 [12:13]

In an effort to protect the dwindling cattle population in the country, the Ministry of Agriculture has placed a total ban on the slaughter of female cattle until further notice.

Acting Director Animal Health and Production Misiraini Raisuqe said statistics show the cattle population has steadily decreased over the years and they are concerned because it affects the Government’s aim of reducing beef imports.

Raisuqe said their locality livestock officers and divisional livestock officers are working with farmers, communities and villages to ensure that female cattle are not slaughtered because of the important role they play in increasing cattle population.

An estimated 450,000 livestock cattle exists on the ground and Raisuqe said the census results that should be released next month should give a better indication of the numbers but noting the reduction in abattoirs throughout the country, it goes down every year.

The animal health production division’s commercial undertaking arm is in the process of designing a strategy involving abattoirs whereby all female cattle that is brought in for slaughter is bought from the farmer and kept on a farm.

He said about 7,000 cattle are taking to the abattoir every year for slaughter and a significant number of that are female cattle so if they are able to purchase the cattle off the party that is selling, this is one way they can protect female cattle numbers.

Story by: Roneel Lal
And also -
‘Slaughter law’ in place at Viseisei

The Department of Agriculture has advised that all animals, intended to be slaughtered during the State funeral of the former President and Tui Vuda, the late Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda, must be first inspected at the Vuda Abattoir.

Acting director Animal Health Production Unit Misiraini Raisuqe said the instruction was in line with laws on the slaughter of livestock animals intended for consumption.

“The Western Division livestock office and the Fiji Meats Industry Board have set up operations at the Vuda Abattoir to inspect all livestock animals intended for consumption during the state funeral,” Mr Raisuqe said. “All livestock animals will be inspected by livestock officers before they are slaughtered at the abattoir. This is normal procedure because we need to ensure that all consumed meat are first inspected for health reasons and also ensure the healthy status of the livestock animals before consumption. It will also be an opportunity for us to see that cows are is not slaughtered as a ban has already been placed on their slaughter.”

The abattoir is located about two kilometres from Viseisei Village.

what about female pigs and girlie goats?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Deaconesses in Fiji

Deaconess Olivia at Dilkusha

from w
I read with interest an article by James Bhagwan about the Methodist deaconesses in Fiji. I remember Pauline Campbell very well and her enthusiasm for the establishment of a deaconess order in Fiji and the contribution of women to the church as leaders.
Here is the article as in the Fiji Times:
A celebration of service
James Bhagwan
Wednesday, February 09, 2011

MY family recently relocated from Toorak where I spent eight years of my life to Samabula. I relocated with them. I now live in a house named after the late Pauline Campbell, a past headmistress of Dudley House School and strong advocate of equal participation of women in the ordained ministry of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma.

More important, Miss Campbell was instrumental in the establishment of the Deaconess Order of the Methodist Church in Fiji.

In the words of A. Harold Wood, "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 program. The Deaconess Order was a boon to women of both races and was a monument to her oversight and spirit of devotion to the church in Fiji."

My new neighbour is the administrator of the Deaconess Order, Deaconess Meresiana Kuricava and her extended family - the eight student deaconesses who stay in the dormitory between our two houses. I live next to the Deaconess Training Centre which is a hive of activity.

Tomorrow, (February 10) is Deaconess Day in the Methodist calendar. Since 1878 missionary sisters have served the Methodist Church, teaching in schools, caring for orphans, providing medical and nursing care and engaging in evangelistic, pastoral and social and community work.

According to the late Ms Campbell, in 1953 the Fijian Synod of the Methodist Church of Australasia appointed the first Deaconess Committee because all Fijian annual meetings had recommended to the Synod the establishment of a Deaconess Order.

About 1966, three women - Miss Mulya Dharanji, Sister Ethel Brent and Mrs Gladys Campbell bought the property next door to me, especially for the purpose of setting up a deaconess training centre. A multiracial group of volunteers along with the first four deaconess students prepared the house for occupation and on February 10, 1967, classes started for the student deaconesses.

The term deaconess comes from the Greek word diakonia which can be defined as service or ministering. According to the World Federation of Diaconal Associations and Diaconal Communities:

* Diaconal work establishes a connection between church and society. It is present in service as well as every-day life.

* Diaconal work overcomes denominational boundaries; in the broadest sense, it is ecumenical.

* In service and spiritual care, the diaconate gives witness, both to protect injustice and to give expression to the promised kingdom of God.

Deaconesses have served as chaplains in schools, religious education teachers and in pastoral appointments as assistants to ministers. Sometimes their roles are misunderstood and as a result undervalued by the ministers and communities they serve in.

Forty-four years since the training of deaconesses started in Fiji, with a new administrator and staff, the Deaconess Training Centre and Deaconess Order is at a crossroad and reflecting on its relevance and rethinking its mission. Many, including the leaders of the Deaconess Order believe the time has come for the Vada ni Turaga - servants or messengers of the Lord - to begin to make a difference in new areas of the community through specialised ministries such as children's ministry, providing care for the aged and hospital ministry.

Writing in the late 1980s Ms Campbell, who died in 2009 aged 85, stated "the church has not yet had a vision of the potential of deaconesses for innovative and outreach work" adding that in other countries, it was normal for some deaconesses to be working in appointments outside the church, with church approval.

She added "it is to the areas of greatest need in the community and to the guidance of the Spirit that the deaconess, the committee and church should look to".

In past years final-year student deaconesses have written a project paper, from which they must develop into a workshop and implement during their probationary period. Issues such as child abuse, violence against women, poverty and other current issues including the impact of the media in society may perhaps point the way for the re-envisioning of the role of the Deaconess Order.

Rev. James Bhagwan serves as a minister for the Dudley Suva Circuit in the Indian Division of the Methodist Church in Fiji. He holds a Bachelor of Divinity in Ecumenical Studies.
And this article came up when I googled 'deaconesses in Fiji' to look for photos.
From Fuata Jione in Brisbane (28 July 2009)

Celebrating the Life of Pauline Ellen Campbell
11 October 1923–14 July 2009
Pauline Ellen Campbell

Miss Pauline Campbell, a loyal servant of God and true friend to all who knew her, passed away on 14 July 2009 at Regis Lakeside, Chancellor Park, on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Miss Campbell spent over 30 years of her life in Fiji, from 1947, with the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma teaching in schools and Sunday schools, establishing the Deaconess Order and working for social causes for women and children. She travelled to Rotuma during her work in Fiji when Deaconess Olovia was first posted to Rotuma in the early seventies.

Deaconess Olovia and her Grandson Richard Robinson Seru, from Dilkusha home in Fiji, and Deaconess Terani Lima of Brisbane, accompanied by the Rotuman community in Brisbane, attended Miss Campbell’s memorial service at Buderim on the Sunshine Coast.

Deaconess Olovia Nataniela, the current Superintendent of Dilkusha Home in Fiji, represented the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma and gave a very moving tribute on the life of Miss Pauline Campbell for her work with the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma. Deaconess Olovia acknowledged that Miss Campbell’s work in Fiji continues on and many, including her, are very blessed to have been taught and guided by Miss Campbell. Deaconess Terani Lima spoke of Miss Campbell’s establishing the Deaconess Order in Fiji as she was the first local to take over from Miss Campbell, who retired and returned to Australia from active service in Fiji in 1986. It was a fitting tribute to Miss Campbell as Deaconesses Olovia and Terani were two of the first four students of the Deaconess Order in which Miss Campbell was in charge. Over one hundred and fifty Deaconesses have graduated from the Deaconess Order.

The church service was held at the Buderim Uniting Church and was attended by many people who knew Miss Pauline Campbell or worked with her in Fiji and Australia. The Rotuman group sung hymns prior to the service and later when Deaconesses Olovia and Terani paid tribute. The Indian community led by Reverend Charles Masih sang a beautiful Hindi hymn, a favourite of Pauline Campbell after Reverend Charles spoke of her work in Fiji to the Indian community.

No doubt the people of Fiji and Rotuma who know Pauline Campbell will remember her dedication and hard work at all the establishments that she served within the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma.

Deaconess Olovia conveys her sincere gratitude and appreciation to the following people:

* The leaders of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma;
* The Methodist Church in Australia for their support to Miss Pauline Campbell during her years of service in Fiji;
* Reverend Charles Masir and the Indian community in Brisbane;
* Deaconess Leba Laveti, the current head of the Deaconess Order in Fiji who visited Miss Campbell during her last days in Australia;
* The Brisbane Rotuman group lead by Mr and Mrs Manueli, who accompanied Deaconesses Olovia and Terani to the memorial service at Buderim on the Sunshine coast;
* Relatives and friends from Fiji and Australia who assisted Deaconess Olovia with her travel and other arrangements to attend the memorial service of such a wonderful and loyal servant of God, Miss Pauline Ellen Campbell.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Tui Vuda passes away

The news of the death of Tui Vuda, former President of Fiji was in the blogs yesterday but protocol really requires silence until the main members of the vanua are informed in the correct way. So the official announcement only came this afternoon. Our condolences go to the people of Vuda particularly.
Former President, Tui Vuda passes away
Publish date/time: 07/02/2011 [17:11]
excerpts from story in Fiji Village

The country's former President and Turaga Na Tui Vuda, Ratu Josefa Iloilo has passed away. Ratu Josefa Iloilo, who was 90, passed away at the Suva Private Hospital yesterday morning, and arrangements are now being made for a state funeral to be accorded to him.....

Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda who was born on the 29th of December, 1920, was the President of Fiji from 2000 until 2009. He held the traditional title of Tui Vuda, the paramount chief of the Vuda district in Ba Province. He announced on 28th July 2009 that he would be leaving office on 30th July that year.

Looking at his career: after working as a teacher and civil service administrator, Ratu Josefa Iloilo later became a member of the House of Representatives. He subsequently served as a Senator in the 1990s, and was President of the Senate prior to his becoming Vice President of Fiji on 18th January 1999.

He was in this position under President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara in 1999 and 2000, when Mahendra Chaudhry's government was overthrown by George Speight and his group in 2000.

He was sworn in as President on 13th July 2000 and reappointed President after the events of December 2006.

In his traditional speech opening Parliament on 1st August, 2005 Ratu Josefa Iloilo told the parliamentarians that they must carefully examine their conscience on the deliberation of sensitive issues and not be swayed by racial remarks which had been a common and unfortunate hallmark of debate in Parliament.

In an opening address to the Great Council of Chiefs on 27 July 2005, Ratu Josefa told his fellow chiefs that they needed to adapt to the modern era, or else risk "simply becoming decorations."

The Tui Vuda was a lay preacher for many years, and was Vice President of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma in 1997 and 1998....

Members of the Vanua of Vuda met with the Prime Minister earlier today. More details of the state funeral are expected to be released later this week.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

Friday, February 04, 2011

Reporting the news in Fiji

from w
From the time I did a couple of Journalism subjects at Deakin, I've been interested in the sub-texts of the articles I read in the papers and see on the TV - why so much emphasis on conflict, tragedy, stupidity, 'bad' news, and of course sometimes an ethnocentric bias such as page one - one Australian died, page 26 5000 died in Bangladesh. Anyway, here's an article from a lecture given recently in Fiji. I'll read it more carefully and make some comments later on - at the moment we are off to a barbecue of our Fiji group here in Australia.

from the Fiji Times features today:
Report some things or report nothing
Saturday, February 05, 2011Head of Journalism at USP Shailendra Singh.

The form, function and ethos of news media in Fiji and the Pacific are under increasing scrutiny. Debate about the suitability of western-style reporting in fragile, multi-ethnic societies is gaining momentum given the premium placed on conflict as an element of news.

Recently, two seminars on media and peace-building were held in Suva to discuss such issues.

The mainstream media might retort that social cohesion or peace-building is not our responsibility. Our job is to report the news fairly, accurately and objectively. Or, as a result of public debate and discussion, mainstream media might have a rethink about whether it can continue to report in the same manner as before when so much has changed in the interim.

In terms of Fiji's media environment, such discussions are starting to happen, which is a sign of progress.

Devil's advocate

Just like government, media needs to be scrutinized and challenged. It needs a devil's advocate to keep it on its toes, and in touch with the people.

Given our watchdog role, we are constantly looking out for, and picking faults, in others. Because of this, we sometimes develop a condition whereby we think we are always right, blinding ourselves to other points of view.

We start thinking that we have a monopoly on the truth, assume the moral high ground and become averse to change and criticism. In other words, we fail the society we are supposed to serve.

I will argue, with some trepidation, that we have seen shades of this attitude in the Fiji media landscape.

Since Independence, particularly in the last 25 years, Fiji has become increasingly unstable.

But we are still stuck in the rut of 1970s-style reporting, which places a premium on conflict as a news element.

We inherited our news reporting methods and values from Britain and other European models.

But our country is different from England, and also from Australia and New Zealand for that matter.

Uncompromising and hard-hitting journalism, including hyping up or sensationalizing conflict, may not result in a coup or riots in well-entrenched democracies.

But it can devastate fragile multi-ethnic societies. We have seen some terrible examples of this in some African countries, and Fiji should take lessons from this.

said that for most of the time, successive governments in Fiji have been their worst enemy due to dishonesty and ineptitude.

Commercializing conflict

Traditional news reporting has strengths in exposing corruption, promoting human rights, espousing equality and holding leaders accountable. But there are perceived weaknesses in this model when applied in unstable, multiethnic societies, particularly given the emphasis placed on conflict as a key element of news. In order to boost circulation, media is not averse to hyping up conflict, which has become a highly commercialized commodity in the news reporting business.

In Fiji the media is paradoxically seen as both a champion of democracy and a security threat because of a perceived tendency to either misreport or sensationalize conflict.

Of cats and dogs

Recently Radio Australia reported that there was a general decline in journalistic standards in Fiji, and media was running "dog and cat stories".

I described the report as "superficial" in a media interview.

I said overseas journalists, full of idealism but out of touch with the ground realities in Fiji, were painting an inaccurate picture of the country.

It's nave to judge journalism in Fiji through the Australia and New Zealand prism because the situation here is starkly different - have had a coup, and we have a punitive media law in place.

In the media interview, I posed the question: "What kind of journalism should we practise? "Is it the kind that will lead to the closure of news companies and loss of jobs?" We have to be realistic and strategic, and operate best as we can in the tough environment we are working.

As a colleague said, 'Martyrdom is great, but you do not live to fight the next day'. So survival is important as we wait for better days.

There was a cynical reference in the ABC report about Fiji media reduced to running "cat and dog stories".

This gave the impression that there was no serious reporting being done.

Granted that many things that should be reported are not being reported. But there is stark choices before us - report some things, or report nothing.

The 'cat and dog reference is a revealing one.

It shows what is wrong with journalism today both in Fiji and elsewhere. Unless you are reporting politics, scandals, celebrities or calamities, you are not doing real reporting.

Their situation of cats and dogs in Fiji is shameful and unconscionable.

We should all be having sleepless nights over it. Local media is doing a wonderful job highlighting the plight of these animals, only to get ridiculed for it by the overseas media.

Silver lining

So while the media's situation is not ideal at present, we need to make the best of it. And there are some silver linings in the clouds. For example, political rhetoric by leaders who love to grandstand used to draw journalists like moths to flame, and crowded out some other important news.

Recently however, we have noticed more space being given to social issues.

Media has run some really inspiring stories on sacrifices made by poor parents to put their children through school and university.

The fact that media has been covering and celebrating excellence and achievement in education is wonderful.

Fiji is a poor country. For us education can be a great liberator.

We need to promote education.What is happening in the Fiji media landscape is very interesting. We are redefining notions of 'what is news' and challenging long-held beliefs such as: 'Bad news is good news' and 'if it bleeds, it leads'.

Journalistic standards

Still on the media landscape, in Fiji there is a lot of discussion about journalistic standards.

My view is such discussions should be contextualized and compared with standards in other sectors, services and professions in Fiji.

"What is the standard of doctors and lawyers in Fiji?

How about the quality of our politicians, or the quality of governance? How well has our civil service served the country?

It is best to leave lawyers out of this discussion, but if you do a comparative study, you will find that journalists, who do not charge fees or use taxpayers' money, have not done too badly.

But we can hardly rest on our laurels. Fiji has great needs.

More than 40 percent of the population lives in poverty. People are paid a pittance for their labour, and generations remain caught in the poverty trap.

The media can make a difference, therefore it needs to carefully consider its priorities. Journalists, on their part, need to take their jobs seriously.

Fiji not only needs a free media, but also a socially responsible media.

A media less besotted with prominence and conflict, and more committed and devoted to the needs of its people.

It goes without saying that Fiji needs a media free of political influence and manipulation, and unencumbered by excessive government control and persecution.

nShailendra Singh is the head of journalism at the University of South Pacific. This commentary is based on a talk he delivered at the peace journalism workshop hosted by the Pacific Media Centre at AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand, on 4/5 December 2010.

The views expressed in the article are that of the author, and not necessarily of his employer.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

I don't know who named Cyclone Yasi but

from w
I don't know who named Cyclone Yasi but it's a beautiful name which means 'sandalwood' so it would be a good name for a baby born in the middle of the cyclone in an emergency centre. But the mother didn't. She just had her baby with the help of a tourist Englishwoman who was a midwife.

Of course cyclones can be terrifying and Cyclone Yasi was a very large one that caused massive damage along the coastal towns of Queensland but fortunately not the larger cities. There was two days warning and a huge network of informing people how to survive which surely helped in saving lives.Here are pictures of boats tossed like toys (well, we do have large toys in Australia don't we) and the typical wind on the palm trees.

Our prayers and thoughts are with the people in Queensland who went through this experience because the noise is horrific and the possibility of death is there. The people of Fiji of course know a lot about cyclones and the importance of being prepared for the 24 hours of rain and wind. And then the cleanup.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

A polite response to village by-laws

painting by Ray Crooke
from w
I like the response by the women's rights gals regarding the new (perhaps old) village by-laws, particularly the final words in Virisila's text because some of the things in the by-laws are not very fair to women. Living in a communal situation does require responsibility and being considerate of others, respecting elders and co-operating rather than competing. However the rules may be made by only a small group of older men rather than a cross-section of wise people who live in a village.

I wonder also whether the new lease-money arrangments - equal share to infant and elder alike - will have repercussons on respect for elders. Power may be in financial power and if leaders do not have the wherewithal to perform their leadership tasks, the young ones might shrug their shoulders and neglect to show respect.

From today's Fiji Times:
FWRM on village bylaws

Verenaisi Raicola
Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Fiji Women's Rights Movement (FWRM) accepts that by-laws are legally binding rules and regulations that are used to protect and promote the welfare, safety and health of all the residents within the stipulated jurisdiction.

FWRM executive director, Virisila Buadromo said the proposed village by-laws should address and regulate concerns such as zoning, parking, building, animal control and noise level within the specific area to improve the standard of living for everyone.

FWRM however, believes that culture is a dynamic and living process.

To ensure the mutual protection of cultural rights and diversity, the recognition of the diversity of cultural and expressions should be taken into consideration. There should also be some focus on the equal treatment and respect for the dignity of all persons and openness to others, discussion and intercultural exchanges.

As such, FWRM in its submission on the I-Taukei Village by-law, has reminded the State of the affirmation it made in its obligation to systematically and continuously implement all provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in July 2010, when it appeared before the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Ms Buadromo said in its submission, FWRM has in particular requested the State to reconsider the provisions which:

n Are in defiance of the commitments it has made through the national women's machinery and which perpetuate further rigid cultural and traditional stereotypes of women and men;

n Exclude women from the decision-making process and from substantial leadership roles because the emphasis is on traditional leadership and authority and the role(s) of the village headmen; and which

n Place considerable importance and adherence to forms of leadership and authority that are prejudicial to girls and women, and that will further exacerbate the discrimination against girls and women.

FWRM urges the State to approach and recognise the traditions and culture within the a framework of human rights taking into account the dignity and value of all human beings, and their right to their expression of culture.
And, two other opinions from website about Fijian culture:
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Village Bylaws Debate

by Verenaisi Raicola
Fiji Times - Thursday, January 27, 2011
A village sign at Lami Village advises that women are not allowed to wear pants and men are not allowed to wear hats, stemming from the proposed village bylaws. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Roko Tui Ba Ratu Sireli Vesikula said while some villagers supported the draft village bylaws proposed by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, he cautioned them not to apply the penalties as they had not been legalised. Ratu Sireli has however suggested that all disciplinary issues villagers presently faced or had to deal with should be referred to police. Ratu Sireli said some villagers agreed to promote the draft village bylaws to encourage discipline in some areas of village life that seemed to be deteriorating. "I am telling the villagers to be careful because they have no authority to apply the penalties," he said.

Ratu Sireli said what was important was for villagers to improve on their behavior. "Things like being drunk and disorderly, turning the volume of music high and wearing nonrespectable clothes in the village needed to be discouraged," he said.
Ratu Sireli said overall, there is a need for some form of order in village settings.
He said homes in some villages were constructed too close to one another.

The proposed draft village bylaws states that there should be a space of 12 metres between homes. All homes should contain a sleeping space, bathroom, toilet and a kitchen. The law also prohibits smoking in any village public places.

Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said the village bylaws was not law so the village elders and turaga-ni-koro were prohibited from exercising it. He said the turaga-ni-koro who were 'disciplining' villagers were effectively commiting assault. They have been charged and will face the full brunt of the law, Inspector Sokomuri said.

State halt of bylaws good
Fiji Times - Thursday, January 27, 2011
THE Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF) welcomes the suspension of the proposed village bylaws by the state. CCF chief executive officer Reverend Akuila Yabaki said they were informed at a meeting by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs last week that Cabinet had decided to suspend the implementation of village bylaws pending further wider consultation with stakeholders.

"This government move will receive wide support from civil society organisations (CSOs, particularly because the village bylaws was incompatible with United Nations Conventions on Human Rights which Fiji has ratified," Mr Yabaki said.

In a letter signed by Mr Yabaki and addressed to deputy permanent secretary Indigenous Affairs Department Colonel Apakuki Kurusiga last year, CCF shared its fears and reservations about the draft bylaws. Mr Yabaki said some villages, according to media reports, had already embarked on the implemention of the said bylaws; offenders of the bylaws are actually punished. "CCF believes that the goal of national unity compels us to move away from racial or communal approaches."