NATION

Why We Need By-laws In iTaukei Village

ANALYSIS: Those who oppose the draft village by-laws do not understand the dynamics of communal living. The quality of village lifestyle depends on the observance of rules (by-laws), customary practices,
13 May 2017 10:11
Why We Need By-laws In iTaukei Village
Retired chief magistrate Aminiasi Katonivualiku.

ANALYSIS: Those who oppose the draft village by-laws do not understand the dynamics of communal living.

The quality of village lifestyle depends on the observance of rules (by-laws), customary practices, culture of respect and the unity of the community.

The unique iTaukei local focus underpins the communal spirit and practices that govern their way of life.

But it is not enough to protect the iTaukei villagers from negative foreign influences that threaten peace and stability in the villages.

The enforcement of old village by-laws has seen a major reduction in alcohol abuse. There was a time when drunkards who consume homebrew used to terrorise villagers. Today there is a significant improvement. Many villages have outlawed alcohol consumption.

The new village by-laws will strengthen the enforcement process and restore confidence and pride in the villages.

As part of the enforcement process, it might be useful to explore the possibility and practicality of reintroducing the old iTaukei court system (Mataveilewai iTaukei) that existed during the colonial days. Petty offences can be dealt with by this court. The idea has been courted by some provinces. In Ra last year, the Tikina (district) Tokaimalo spoke favourably of the idea.

Tikina Tokaimalo includes 10 villages: Nailawa, Nabalabala, Namataveikai, Vunisea, Nayaulevu, Navuniyaumunu, Naivutu, Naraviravi, Navavai and Naraliyaba.

Tikina Rakiraki also shared the same sentiments adding that it would make life easier.

The Tikina Rakiraki includes four villages, Navutulevu, Navuavua, Malake and Vatusekiyasawa.

The iTaukei court system was used from 1954 to 1967.

It was a separate court sitting at village level where breaches within the village by-laws were taken into that court system. It served the district at village level.

Cases were swiftly dealt with and punishment covered a range of community service. This was taking the justice system to the villages. A number of magistrates were trained to preside in this court system. Retired chief magistrate Aminiasi Katonivualiku was one of them.

The gradual breakdown of village cohesion since 1967 underscored the need for by-laws and a court system to ensure villagers comply.

If we take away our political blinkers and look at these by-laws holistically, we would clearly see that they are there to help the villagers. They help people to be productive, independent and give them a sense of security and responsibility.

In a communal environment it is important to have a setup that takes care of community needs that include cleaning of public drains and open spaces, picking of rubbish etc. This is on top of the cultural obligations that villagers are committed to. It’s different to settlements and squatter areas where there are no such rules.

But outside influences and a cash economy are having a big impact on how villagers live.

The by-laws are designed to help villagers cope with these pressures.

Only those who have lived and now live in villages know the real value of these by-laws.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj



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