Analysis

Ro Teimumu Kepa Gives Interesting Insight To Her Decision To Embracing Fijian As Common Name

As Marama Bale na Roko Tui Dreketi (paramount chief of Rewa and Burebasaga confederacy), she knows the challenges of wearing two hats.
19 Jul 2019 12:39
Ro Teimumu Kepa Gives Interesting Insight To Her Decision To Embracing Fijian As Common Name
L-R: SODELPA MP Ro Teimumu Kepa and the Tui Cakau (Paramount chief of Cakaudrove) Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

Fijian as a common name was a political issue from the very beginning.

Despite SODELPA MP Ro Teimumu Kepa embracing it she makes an interesting claim that many iTaukei and others too are not comfortable with it.

She believes it is unfinished business, suggesting more work still has to be done to change people’s mind.

But for her, her indomitable spirit, overcame the iTaukei opposition to the common name.

She is the only SODELPA MP who has accepted Fijian as a common name.

The opposition to her stand shows that when it comes to politics, iTaukei do not necessarily follow their chiefs. But traditionally, they do and they fulfill their obligations.

The Tui Cakau (paramount chief of Cakaudrove) Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu picked up a lot of votes in Suva to win his seat in Parliament.

As Marama Bale na Roko Tui Dreketi (paramount chief of Rewa and Burebasaga confederacy), she knows the challenges of wearing two hats.

Speaking at the Forced Labour and Migration Conference at the UniFiji Campus in Saweni, Lautoka, Ro Teimumu gave an insight into the struggle she went through to explain her position among her people and SODELPA members on this issue.

She said no one should be surprised because of the way the common name “was imposed”.

“In terms of my own position I have taken into account the issues I have mentioned and that has been a struggle,” she said.

“But in the end I accepted the name Fijian. Not everyone will do that.”

She said publicly she had stated that “I can accept” the common name.

“That’s me speaking personally,” she said.

“Some of you may remember that my brother-in-law, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, also declared that he too favoured everyone being called a Fijian.

“But Ratu Mara, despite his dominance as a leader, could not carry the indigenous Fijians with him on this.

“I am probably in a somewhat similar situation although I cannot claim Ratu Mara’s eminence or status.”

But her position on the common name must have been the motivation for her to give her blessings on the adoption of descendants of the Indian indentured labourers who were rescued from the Nasilai Reef off Rewa after their ship, Syria, ran aground.

The descendants are now drafted as Luvedra na Tui Noco, as members of the Tui Noco chiefly clan.

The same process was replicated in Ba.

She said they were close to her hearts.

“From it I derive hope for the future. It opens the door to a new form of togetherness, duavata for Fiji’s people,” she said.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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