Politics

Ro Teimumu: “vulagi” is Not Derogatory

Speaking more broadly, Ro Teimumu said, “What we have here is a lack of cultural awareness which after a century of living side by side in the same country together is quite shocking to say the least. That disturbs me.
18 Jul 2019 13:00
Ro Teimumu: “vulagi” is Not Derogatory
From left: Isabel Samaj, Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa, Jennifer Khan- Janif and Lucyann Paul during the International Conference at the University of Fiji in Lautoka on July 17, 2019. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

The word ‘vulagi’ is not derogatory.

That was the definition by the Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa who finally broke her silence yesterday on the much talked about issue.

She went on to say that if you call yourself a Fijian, there is no need to take offence.

In her address during the Forced Labour and Migration Conference at the University of Fiji Saweni Campus in Lautoka yesterday she said: “For a start it is not derogatory. I put the definition as somewhere between honoured visitor or guest.

“The indigenous Fijians themselves are regularly called vulagi when they visit another vanua or place. For example, if I were to visit a village in Vanua Levu, the villagers would be asked as to who is the vulagi- who is the visitor or guest?

“So, if you call yourself Fijian, there is no need to take offence if sometimes you are addressed as vulagi. To me all the uproar about this denoted lack of understanding of how the Fijian social system works and knowledge and use of the indigenous language.”
Lack of culture awareness

Speaking more broadly, Ro Teimumu said, “What we have here is a lack of cultural awareness which after a century of living side by side in the same country together is quite shocking to say the least. That disturbs me.

“Minister for Education Rosy Akbar is reported to have said something to the effect that Fiji has tackled the identity crisis in the most positive way and she can now proudly call herself a Fijian.

“The adoption of a common name in a country such as Fiji, with diverse cultures and traditions and different languages is quite obviously, a sensitive question. You don’t need to have great discernment to understand this,” she said.

“Fiji would be the republic of the Fiji Islands and thus its people would be Fiji Islanders.

“But the name did not stick. The successive governments, including those in which I served should have done more to popularise it,” she added.
Ugly truth

“The ugly truth is that, “Fijian” imposed at the point of a gun. Those who had owned that name for possibly 2000 or so years were not consulted in that decision. There was no attempt to win their approval for the change; no effort at building consensus.”

She stresse the need to work together for the common good.

In her own position, she has taken into account in the province of Rewa on May 5, 2017; “The acceptance of the concept of ‘Luvedra na Ratu’ and keeping in mind the bigger picture for us all. However not everyone will do that.”

She said the last time the Indo-Fijian community and the indigenous Fijian community came together to find a solution for their common need was in 1976 when they resolved to give a 30-year security of tenure on all native agricultural leases.

“It is because we have a common destiny and we must therefore sit down resolve our common need and do it for the common good. We do not need a government to be imposing solutions for us,” she said.
Why she said nothing, until now?

She replied, “The answer is that I did not wish to be used as part of a propaganda frenzy orchestrated by sections of the media. The purpose is to damage my own political party, SODEPLA, and create an advantage for the Government. In other words, we must recognise there is an agenda at work here.”

Edited by Susana Tuilau

Feedback: waisean@fijisun.com.fj

Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
error: