Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No Difference for the Blind

No difference for the blind
Sitiveni Rabuka
www.fijitimes.com - Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nadi's Vereniki Goneva tests the Suva defence in their Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy rugby clash at Prince Charles Park in Nadi at the weekend
Ni sa bula! I had the honour of being asked to talk to the Suva rugby team on Friday night as they were preparing for their Farebrother - Sullivan challenge against holders, Nadi on Saturday. The team was camping in Suvavou Village and were looked after by the womenfolk of the village.
I was surprised when I saw how slightly built some of the forwards were, but I could immediately spot the props by their size.
As each was introduced to me I asked where he hailed from.
All of them knew the name of the village they came from.
One came from an island where there are two 'vanuas', each with a traditional head.
When I asked this tauvu whether he knew who his chief is, he stumbled then mumbled the title of one of the two chiefs I mentioned.
After presenting the trophy to the victorious Nadi team, I was asked by one of the reporters there whether the vanua factor is still strong in sports.
That particular reporter noticed that I sat amongst the chiefs of Navatulevu, Sabeto, Navo, Naua, Nawaka, Moala and my old propping partner, Ratu Jona Qoro of Narewa.
I also had a brief chat with my 'skipper' on the UK tour of 1970, Sela Toga of Saunaka Village.
In fact, the reporter noticed the absence of the 'chiefs' of Suva.
Suva has always played without the visible support and presence of a vanua.
The players I met on Friday night came from different provinces in Fiji.
I can confidently say that some of them have never met their vanua or yavusa chiefs.
Whether during their 'camp' in Suvavou, the players were introduced to the chiefs of the yavusas of Suva - Vatuwaqa, Nayavumata and Nauluvatu, is something I wondered about when I was asked the 'vanua' factor by the reporter.
Tests in any sport in Fiji are still being referred to as valataki vanua fighting for the vanua in the Fijian language.
Even in the local competitions, where vanua names like Rewa, Nadroga, Nadi, Naitasiri, Tailevu, Ba and Tavua, etc., are used, the players and 'name owners' take pride in the victorious performance of their teams and also share the feelings for their losses.
So, do teams like Suva and Vatukoula have a disadvantage of being without readily identifiable vanua support?
Last week we were informed that the newly appointed minister for Indigenous Affairs, etc., was touring the West, talking to the chiefs of the Western Division. We were also told that the interim regime intends to call a bose ni turaga similar to the one called by George Speight in parliament in 2000.
We have also been told that after the minister has had a good round of talks with the chiefs and after the bose ni turaga, the Bose Levu Vakaturaga, in its new composition, will be summoned to meet and deliberate on matters important to the nation.
As we think of the political forum which sat in Parliament yesterday, we are hopeful that as many groups as possible will be consulted for their views on what they believe will be best for the nation.
It was, therefore, not conducive to proper dialogue for the leader of the regime to 'poison the well' before the forum and say that certain people were responsible for our current demise and should have no more say on what to do for the future.
He conveniently forgot that he had assured all invitees that all views would be taken into account, and that there was no preset resolution.
Will the charter, if discussed by the forum, become the 'National' Charter?
We are also informed that there will be moves to get a new 'national' flag.
This is not a new subject, as the Bose Levu Vakaturaga, in its former composition, had also proposed some changes to the national flag.
The BLV had wanted the full Coat of Arms to be incorporated including the national motto taken out of 1 Peter 2:17 '... fear God, honour the King' (Rerevaka na Kalou ka doka na tui).
The real issue 'we, the people of Fiji' will need to be clear about is whether anything 'national' will be referred to us before they become set in law.
The only way we can express our voice is through a national referendum or through the representatives we vote into our legislative assembly by a system we approve.
The 1990 Constitution was never really acceptable as a document to run a nation on, but the Indian leaders of the time agreed to abide by it and then effect changes to it by its provisions.
And, when certain parts of it were amended and new features added and voted on by the people's representatives even in the 'flawed' house they were in it became acclaimed as the ideal document for plural societies like ours.
Hopefully, the charter, flag and electoral systems will, likewise, be subjected to the review by us, the people of Fiji.
But, what if 'we the people of Fiji' decide to change or repeal those holus bolus?
Will the charter-empowered watch keepers be empowered by reserve powers to reverse our decision?
Happy Diwali! Pray for light at the end of the political tunnel. Unfortunately light makes no difference to the blind. Please pray anyway.

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