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CELEBRATION: Retired Teacher Recalls Independence Day While at Fiji Day Celebrations

CELEBRATION: Retired Teacher Recalls Independence Day While at Fiji Day Celebrations
Retired school teacher Alanieta Utovou with her husband Eroni Utovou during the Fiji Day Celebrations at Prince Charles Park in Nadi on October 10, 2017. Photo: Arieta Vakasukawaqa
October 11
13:20 2017

Sitting at Prince Charles Park yesterday to celebrate Fiji’s 47th year of Independence brought back good memories for retired teacher Alanieta Utovou.

Mrs Utovou, 72, remembers sitting at Albert Park with her students on 10 October, 1970 to witness  Fiji gaining her independence from Great Britain.

“I can still vividly remember that day, 10th of October, 1970 when I witnessed the Union Jack hoisted for the last time,” Mrs Utovou said.

“Prince Charles was there and Ratu Kamisese Mara was the Prime Minister,” she said.

Then she was 25, and was teaching at Nehru Primary School in Toorak.

Originally from Ovalau in Levuka she taught for 39 years before retiring 12 years ago. She was accompanied by her husband, also a retired school teacher, Eroni Utovou.

The mother of three said she was honoured to be in Nadi to witness the Fiji Day celebrations.

“I was teaching at Nehru Memorial Primary School at that time and I was given the responsibility to take the students down to Albert Park to witness a new beginning for this nation,” she said.

“I was blessed to be part of the crowd on 10th October 1970 to witness the Union Jack hoisted for the last time and Fiji’s current flag hoisted for the first time, the start of our independence,” Ms Utovou added.

She said the opportunity to get a glimpse of Prince Charles was a blessing and it was a one in a lifetime opportunity.

“I sat here with tears in my eyes just thinking of what exactly happened 47 years ago,” she said.

Among the crowd also was retired serviceman, 88-year-old, Jale Bainisika who said he had witnessed Fiji at its worse and good form.

“It’s an honour to be here and be part of this Fiji Day celebrations,” Mr Bainisika said.

Edited by Karalaini Waqanidrola


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