NEWS

It’s Time To Put Village Bylaws To The Test

For the next eight months a draft village bylaw will be circulated and discussed in consultation meetings throughout the country. Some of the provisions are not new, but this is
14 Nov 2016 11:00
It’s Time To Put Village Bylaws To The Test
Bylaws

For the next eight months a draft village bylaw will be circulated and discussed in consultation meetings throughout the country. Some of the provisions are not new, but this is a comprehensive compilation of village rules designed to promote peace, stability and economic prosperity in villages.

The draft, when read from a holistic perspective, attempts to promote order and discipline in the village. At the same time, it is careful not to be over-bearing or too controlling to stifle individual enterprise and entrepreneurship in business and commerce.

Village life is based on communalism. Everyone working together in family groups, clans (mataqali), tribes (yavusa) or the vanua. This is the village ethos. It’s what makes the village environment unique and special. It gives it character and strength.

Today, pressures of the modern cash economy and foreign influences challenge the long term survival or sustainability of some of the cultural practices that make up this village ethos.

The big challenge is to strike a balance where two cultures can co-exist harmoniously. There has to be some form of give and take where we recognise the differences and agree on an amicable arrangement, which satisfies both sides.

For example, in some villages, a day is set aside to clean up the village and carry out community service. This is essential to ensure that the village is kept clean and tidy for health reasons. Because of sickness, work or business commitments not all male adults will be present. At the moment, in some villages, only the turaga-ni-koro (village headman) can be seen mowing the lawn. Where are the rest of the men? They have their own personal reasons. This should be discussed in the draft bylaw to find a solution.

A possible solution is to have a provision that allows male villagers to be able to fulfill their responsibilities on other days that suit them. Or if they choose to, they can pay a levy if they cannot be present at all. This is especially so for those who hold permanent paid jobs outside of the village or are engaged in commercial activities that require them to be out of the village on the designated clean-up day. In this way the village functions are maintained.

The objective of the village bylaw to promote self reliance and independence is applauded. While it may sound harsh that a pre requisite to marriage is a house and a plantation, it teaches a principle that villagers must plan and prepare for marriage to avoid problems later. I think at the same time young people thinking about getting married should attend village organised seminars to teach them the responsibilities of fathers and mothers in a home in raising children.

Too often we see examples of young couples having little or absolutely no idea on how to run and manage their families. To make matters worse, they rely on their parents and extended relatives to support them.

This draft bylaw will help reverse that trend. The cultural practice of ‘kerekere’ or borrowing or ‘dinau’ should be discouraged. The culture of consumption and dependence on others should also be discouraged. The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs must be supported in its bid to change the mind-set and encourage people to save for rainy day and become self reliant and independent.

For our villages to grow in strength while maintaining communalism, we must lift our game so to speak.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj



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