Island News

Ex-reggae star turns to beche-de-mer

Written By : JONA KONATACI. Former reggae star Freddy Fesaitu has turned a new leaf in life. This time he has decided to turn his back on music. Brought up
27 Nov 2010 12:00

image Written By : JONA KONATACI. Former reggae star Freddy Fesaitu has turned a new leaf in life.
This time he has decided to turn his back on music.
Brought up in the tough Raiwaqa neighbourhood, Mr Fesaitu helped form and led the reggae group Rootstrata as they made their mark on the local scene.
The group also had a huge following in New Caledonia, Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia.
Today most of their reggae hit songs during the late 1980s and early 1990s are still popular throughout the country.
The original group consisted of seasoned musicians like Ioane Burese, Max Rabaka, Claude Larry and Pelenato Sonny.
Later Hawaii-based George ‘Fiji’ Veikoso joined the band as he started his musical career.
“The cost of living is high and I have to provide for my family. Today, I have changed course,” he said.
“I have started a beche-de-mer (sea cucumber) business which will benefit my island home Rotuma.”
In 2006, Mr Fesaitu said he had completed a small business course with microfinance.
“Also I did a lot of research and after getting some advice from friends in the Yasawas I then decided to sail to my homeland.
“My lawyer Apaitia Seru advised me on the legal terms of running the business and how to get a licence from the District Office in Rotuma.”
Mr Fesaitu buys beche-de-mer from villages in Rotuma.
“This is also done with the approval of the district chief and everything is processed in the village before it is shipped to Suva.”
He said in the island they earn as much as 20 cents a kilogramme on copra. This is compared to the $1 or $1.50 per kg on beche-de-mer.
Mr Fesaitu said it’s only a half-day’s work depending on the tide.
“My island home has the potential and beche-de-mer is an untapped potential but now I plan to expand my operations in the island,” he added.
In Suva, he deals with Chinese exporters and Mr Fesaitu said the price determines how well the product is being processed.
He said the step he has taken is simply because he cannot rely on the music industry to survive.
“Professional musicians like me cannot survive in the industry because we are robbed right in front of our eyes,” Mr Fesaitu said.
“Piracy is the main factor because after launching an album it ends up in a DVD shop for $2 a copy, internet shops and now even it’s used as a ring tone.
“The Government has implemented a law on piracy but the monitoring of it is a major concern.
“But for me it’s time to move on,” he added.
His advice to all young men out there is to never give up, believe in the Lord Almighty, work hard and become a law abiding citizen.
“My future is going back to my roots and helping my people develop economically because I know there is potential in my island home,” Mr Fesaitu added.

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