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Shifting Sands: The Challenge Of Reintroducing Village By-laws

The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs is picking up the pieces of a tradition through the reintroduction of village by-laws that were abolished in 1967. The village by-laws, Permanent Secretary for
23 Mar 2017 14:35
Shifting Sands: The Challenge Of Reintroducing Village By-laws
Permanent Secretary for iTaukei Affairs Naipote Katonitabua.

The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs is picking up the pieces of a tradition through the reintroduction of village by-laws that were abolished in 1967.

The village by-laws, Permanent Secretary for iTaukei Affairs Naipote Katonitabua said, had once held people together through humility and respect for each – this seemed to have been lost throughout the 50 years.

“For years the iTaukei Affairs had watched the gap widen between the races in the country,” Mr Katonitabua said.

Mr Katonitabua also said poverty reached an embarrassing level, the alarming increase of crime rate and degrading social problems plagued the indigenous community.

This, he said, was something that needed immediate attention.

Before 1967, he said there were no problems among the indigenous race.

“Poverty wasn’t an issue with the indigenous people and every household had its own resources through farming,” he said.

For years, he said, Government, church and the vanua had been participating in trying to solve these issues.

“But not one had a direct impact on solving these issues.”

Civil rights, he said, had raised questions regarding the village by-laws for years. But it was not the understanding of our diminishing cultures and tradition within our respective villages where the need to revive our way of living is needed at a time no greater than now.

“Human rights come with greater responsibilities and our customary laws are something that needed addressing when entering the village boundaries or we wouldn’t be called Fijians.

“As of today the revival of the village by-laws is the final frontier of our last fight to take it back and resurrect our values or lose it all.”

Submissions brought to Lakeba from the 13 district reps were done through the recommendations of the village meetings.

He said the other matter the ministry was looking at was the added numbers of designated committee members to handle each task effectively.

“There was only the village committee, the church and the men and women’s committees who once handled every interest of the village.”

Now, he said, every task from education, health, women’s issues, men’s, environment to offences had their individual committee members to handle its interest because the impact was huge.

The target now was for the involvement of youths to participate in their respective villages for meetings, he said.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

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