I had been thinking about this for some time now, and this morning while driving my nephew to school I saw on the back of a T shirt ‘I AM FIJIAN, so I decided I needed to make this post.
Especially when, as a member of the minority community I have always called for a common name in order that we can have a sense of belonging and settle on something better than being known as Others, P/E, General Electors etc. So you would think that I would be happy with Fijian as a common name when it was decreed in 2012. Well I was not. And there is a very simple reason for it.
The common name that I wanted all communities to share, I had hoped would have come after being debated and discussed in a ‘national dialogue’ which would decide on a name that had the blessings and involvement of our Indigenous host community. But instead our common name was ‘imposed’ by an illegal regime that did not have the mandate of the people to do it. Then it was imposed a 2nd time by its inclusion in the imposed 2013 constitution which by the way, has still not been ratified by our people.
That’s why I conclude that we have 2 types of Fijians in Fiji today. Real Fijians know who they are, they feel it and they live it, they are it, and do not feel the need to communicate this fact to themselves or others in Fiji. They are who they are.
On the other hand, Fake Fijians or ‘decreed’ Fijians, know that the name imposed was not agreed to by all, so they have no real feelings for it other than the possible advantages that it may bring. So to help make it stick, they feel the need to remind themselves and others in Fiji every day, all day, 24 hours a day for the last 4 years and counting in radio and TV commercials, print adds, speeches, interviews you name it, they are hell bent on repeating it ad nauseam ‘we are Fijians’, ‘I am Fijian! A desperate attempt to try and convince themselves and others that they are Fijians. But this rings hollow because they know the decision was taken at the point of a gun.
The imposed 2013 constitution says quote ‘that we are all Fijians united by a common and equal citizenry unquote. But are we? Or is this provision in the constitution being deliberately manipulated in favor of one group over others, under the guise of our all being ‘Fijians’.
While we may well share a common name, our cultures and traditions are quite different; this makes us a unique people in this part of the world. As the family of Fiji, our respective communities’ outlooks on life vary depending on if you are Chinese – Fijians, European –Fijians, Itaukei-Fijians [57%], Indian –Fijians [37%], Part European –Fijians, Rotuman –Fijians, Pacific –Island –Fijians, or Other – Fijians.
So when the government of the day appoints nine members of a minority community and one from the majority community as chairs of the 17 organizations and corporations that control the equivalent of 70% of Fiji’s GDP of $9.8 billion [See my Nov 8 post WHO IS IN CONTROL OF FIJI) we begin to see the emergence of possible ‘abuse’ of authority and a breach of our ‘common and equal citizenry’.
We have equally talented and qualified people in all of our communities who are constitutionally entitled to be given equal opportunity to serve and those in authority are equally obliged to take all communities into account and ensure fair representation in positions at the highest level.
Using the imposed common name to deflect criticism away from one individual’s own bias while attacking anyone who raises an issue of race is a dangerous development and must be rejected outright.
The only way to deal with racism is to promote free, responsible and open dialogue, not misappropriate the name of the unique identity of one community and label anyone who takes offense a racist.