Opinion

Many Ethnicitie One People, One Nation

Everything about the opening of Parliament, from the President’s Guard of Honour to the new parliamentary chamber and the President’s address, was impressive. Who could not be stirred.   Eight years
09 Oct 2014 00:21
Many Ethnicitie One People, One Nation

Everything about the opening of Parliament, from the President’s Guard of Honour to the new parliamentary chamber and the President’s address, was impressive.

Who could not be stirred.   Eight years in the making and all the promise of the future;   a united nation, at peace with itself;  a nation of changed mindsets, with people thinking beyond their own narrow, parochial  interests;  a nation  joining hands,  across all political allegiances, working together to move our beloved nation forward.

These were the words of the President.

But he also warned that if politicians and the people generally did not work together, it would be to Fiji’s “ultimate peril as a nation-state.”

He could have been referring to  petty and major differences within parliament, laxity in the workforce or a failure to reduce economic or regional inequalities, and he probably had these things in mind, but I think he was mainly referring to the far deeper unspoken ethnic division that can still derail the nation’s progress.

The first three Fiji coups exploited this division and the 2006 coup  was in part a reaction to a ethnically-biased government.

Creating truly equal citizenship in law and calling everyone Fijian are steps in the right direction but as a person commented on my blog, “There is no groundswell of support for a multiracial Fiji.”

Cynically, the writer thought FijiFirst had “bought” the support of iTaukei and Indo-Fijians voted “how we all expected …  From all the people I talk to, attitudes to race haven’t changed a bit on either side, and yes they are still called Indians and I’m a Fijian.”

An exaggeration, perhaps, but he has a point.   Changing —or removing— labels does not change content, and change of the order needed to make Fiji a truly multi-racial and multi-cultural nation cannot be dictated or expect to occur overnight.

It has to be actively promoted by the removal of institutional racism (which Government has done)  and nudged forward by Government, the Opposition and other opinion makers until there is a spontaneous groundswell of public opinion and behaviour demonstrating that the mindsets of most people have truly changed.

No opportunity should be lost to promote multi-ethnicity, and Friday’s Fiji Day is obviously one ideal opportunity.

I’d  like to see  Singapore-style banners crossing the streets, reading:

“Many Ethnicities, One People, One Equal Nation”  

“Many Languages; One Nation,

“Ni sa bula vinaka, Salaam alaykum, Namaste”

“Many Religious Streams; One Godly River”

And religious services, from Friday to Sunday, adopting these themes.

“Taxi Driver” writing on on my blog, a font of ideas on many topics, thinks:

Schools should give their students an assignment that makes them write a small essay (and provide pictures) of how they celebrated Fiji Day with their family.

The assignment should have a component whereby some marks are given if their homes flew a Fiji flag, or their family prayed for the nation, or some sort of activity that reflects the importance of this day.

Maybe Village 6 and 4 should offer a special offer to all families who become their patrons on this Fiji Day. Special offers may include reduced door prices or free ice-cream (courtesy of Tuckers who have benefited so much from doing business with Village 6/4), etc.

Town councils and rural local authorities should encourage its ratepayers to buy a Fiji flag and fly these on Fiji Day.

Business groups can participate by offering prizes to specific homes for the various locations on the best decorated house and awesome party held on Fiji Day

Bars and nightclubs should also get in the ‘wagon’ and offer a discounted prices … for all patrons who wear anything that has a Fiji flag in it.

These are only some ideas. A start has been made but many more are needed to transform the dream into reality.

Feedback:  newsroom@fijisun.com.fj

 




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