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Our forgotten, neglected people

It is time that we help our Melanesian Community here in Fiji. Politically they have most recently been categorised as “Others”, a minority group, non iTaukei or “vulagi”, “vasu”. They
14 Oct 2012 09:24

It is time that we help our Melanesian Community here in Fiji.
Politically they have most recently been categorised as “Others”, a minority group, non iTaukei or “vulagi”, “vasu”.
They are descendants of Solomon Islanders and niVanuatu brought in by the early Europeans to provide much needed cheap labour that helped lay the foundation of Fiji’s early economic development. This was before and during the early colonial period, from 1865 to 1911
Their contributions are often forgotten. They were taken for granted because of the nature of recruitment and the type of work they were involved in as labourers in cotton fields, building roads, and working in sugarcane fields, and gold mine.
The Melanesian community here formed the Fiji Melanesian Community Development Association to be their voice. Yesterday they made a presentation to the Constitution Committee as they want to be part of the formulation of the new constitution.
Spokesperson Jo Sanegar said the association was also originally caused by fear of the threat by nationalist politicians proclaiming that Fiji is for the indigenous Fijians.
The Melanesian Community has been exploited by politicians in the past. During the Alliance government they were under the then “Fijian” roll to add numbers to the Alliance party. But they could not access programmes that benefited those listed as “Fijian”.
After the coup in 1987 the Melanesian Community were then categorised as “Others”.
Mr Sanegar said the association supports the Bainimarama Government’s initiative for all citizens to be called Fijians.
However, they wonder whether the name guarantees them equal treatment on access to government development programmes, access to education and scholarships?
They have confidence in the Bainimarama Government as a government that promotes equality and is totally against discrimination. But they worry what could happen after the 2014 general elections.
They feel insecure especially in terms of landownership.
Mr Sanegar highlighted the relocation of their relatives from land given many decades ago by some landowning units. This had been based on the matrilineal or “vasu” relationship, or some through traditional protocols as a token of a service provided by some of their ancestors.
However, while they positively contribute to the local community, they’re still faced with continued uncertainty from their cousins in the village because they are not in the Vola ni Kawa Bula register.Our Melanesian Community deserve better.




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