Analysis

Clash Of Cultures, The Biggest Challenge For The iTaukei

Drugs, crimes, sexual offences, anti-social behaviour and dishonesty incidents appear to be on the rise. They destabilise the traditional system making it look weak and incapable of showing strong leadership.
09 Nov 2019 12:33
Clash Of Cultures, The Biggest Challenge For The iTaukei
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Analysis:

One of the biggest challenges facing the iTaukei is the clash of cultures.

The traditional culture verses the modern culture.

It also places immense pressure on chiefs and their leadership.

The iTaukei cannot bury their head in the sand and say nothing is wrong.

Drugs, crimes, sexual offences, anti-social behaviour and dishonesty incidents appear to be on the rise. They destabilise the traditional system making it look weak and incapable of showing strong leadership.

Historically, the chiefs have relied on the support of their people to function effectively. Without that support, they are on their own.

The support is a traditional obligation that the iTaukei are expected to honour.

iTaukei inherit their land and resources through the paternal side of their heritage and ancestry.

No one is penalised if they fail to honour or renege on their obligations today.

They may be snubbed by the rest of their village. That may be the only form of victimisation.

But other than that there is no law to administer a punishment.

The village by-laws are general in nature and not specific when it comes to this issue.

For example, a day in the week has been designated for a cleanup day (sasamaki) . That’s when the men come together to clean up the village. But no one is penalised for failing to take part.

The communal way of living clashes in many ways against individual freedom to do what you feel is best for you in a village setting.

You are required to think about fellow villagers before and when you do something. The link to fellow villagers and the chiefs is still there.

If you have a business in the village and the cleanup day clashes with an important business appointment, which one would you choose? Obviously, the business appointment unless you can reschedule it to a new date.

This issue was first raised way back in the 1970s by famous Fijian anthropologist, the late Rusiate Nayacakalou, who was critical of Fijian (iTaukei) leadership. He highlighted the missed opportunities by iTaukei in terms of economic development, in clinging to a system that had “demonstrably failed to provide tangible benefits.”

“It assumed that people were bound to their chiefs and to their land in unalterable ways which were defined once and for all by their birth,” he said.

“The Fijian (iTaukei) Administration claimed to be based on the traditional system and yet to have the aim of developing into a modern institution.” He said this was a powerful idea which the iTaukei believed in.

“It seems to me that one of the greatest obstacles facing the Fijians (iTaukei) today is the failure to recognise that there is a contradiction. They must make the momentous choice between preserving and changing their way of life.

The belief that they can do both is a monstrous nonsense with which they have been saddled for so many years that its eradication may be difficult to achieve.”

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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