This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say in the 4 The Record FBC TV programme last night. Let’s be honest, there is still a fair bit of
27 Nov 2017 10:01

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say in the 4 The Record FBC TV programme last night.

Let’s be honest, there is still a fair bit of racial prejudices and racism in this country.

It affects the way we think, our perception on issues and the way we behave.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum spoke eloquently on this issue at the Kulukulu Public School prizegiving on Sigatoka last Friday. He called on adults to live by example in upholding the values that help us to live together in peace, unity and stability.

There is not enough public discourse on this subject. We must talk about it more. We sometimes shy away from discussing it because some think it is too culturally sensitive and may offend some people. The positives that come when we talk about it far outweigh the perceived negatives.

First, it will help eliminate the misunderstanding that exists and contributes to racial tension and disharmony and ethnic conflicts.

Second, it educates people to accept the fact that while we may look different, speak a different language, worship differently, practise a different culture, we are all human beings and equal in the eyes of God. The holy writs from the various religions talk about this equality. If God loves each and everyone of us equally, then we should follow that divine example. Equality then has a divine purpose, to bless us so that we can live in peace and harmony.

It is this element of equality that we should promote and protect because therein lies the solution to our social problems.

If we uphold it, we will realize our full potential as a nation. We will be able to create an even much better Fiji and a brighter future that our posterity will enjoy. It will foster national unity, peace and stability.

We should not look at our different backgrounds as a hindrance to our progress. Rather we should regard our rich diversity as a source of great strength. This means we need to treat each other with respect and dignity. Of course, we can express opposing ideas and different opinions because we live in a democracy. We can differ as long as we do it without rancor.

In some cultures this is not allowed. Whatever the elders in the community say goes. The people below them have little choice or say. But we need robust discussions at all levels of our society right up to Parliament.

When we can cross that racial and religious divide to help those in need, then we are getting there with this vision of equality.

When we can appoint people to leadership positions on merit and recruit workers based on merit then we are close to this vision.

When we can stop looking at life from our racially tinted glasses, then we are moving in the right direction.

The Republic of Fiji Military Forces has been a target of racist remarks by some politicians in the past who question why it is dominated by iTaukei. If they were thinking of a quota system where there was a fair representation from other races, then they did not know how the RFMF operates. The RFMF uses a very strict criteria that ensures that those recruited stand up to the rigours and demands of military service. It is in the interest of the RFMF and other stakeholders that selection is based on merit because it protects the integrity of the force. It does not look at ethnicity as a qualification. It is a known fact that the majority of applicants for military service are iTaukei, reflecting the composition of the force.

Other Government ministries have come under political scrutiny in the past because some departments are dominated by one ethnic group. If the employees were recruited on merit, so be it. This is the point I am trying to make. If we continue to look at things from a racial perspective then we will carry on unnecessarily kicking up a fuss about everything and wasting time and energy when we should be focusing on the important things in life.

We are accustomed to helping people from our own group or fraternity. That’s fine. But what we need to do next is to extend that spirit to help others outside of our circles. When we help people we do it because of the need and because we have compassion and real love irrespective of who they are, where they come from, their culture, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, economic circumstances or social status. We don’t only talk about it but we do it.

Equality then becomes meaningful and empowering as an agent of positive social change when we live it in its purest form.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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