Analysis

iTaukei Must Accept That Their Culture Will Evolve To Survive

They cannot afford to carry on with the same old ways. If the culture does not change, it will become irrelevant and extinct
10 Nov 2019 15:26
iTaukei Must Accept That Their Culture Will Evolve To Survive
Land owners after receiving SEED grant from Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama as fifty six land owners, were given SEED funding grant at Grand Pacific Hotel on November 7, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Analysis:

The iTaukei and their leaders must seriously look at making appropriate changes that build their capacity to handle challenges of the future.

They cannot afford to carry on with the same old ways.

Retaining Culture

There is a lot of talk about retaining their culture. Yes, there are aspects of the culture that make up its core values. They include respect, loyalty, commitment, obedience, sacrifice hard work and charity.

They have allowed their communal way of living to survive against challenges from outside competing values.

How long can they keep it up? Already they are seeing that new challenges caused by new influences threaten their families, mataqali (clan), and yavusa (tribe) and the vanua (everyone combined, resources and heritage).

They have infiltrated many levels of our society. Illicit drugs, sexual crimes, dishonesty and anti-social behaviour increasingly put pressure on everyone including the law enforcement people.

They are part of the modern changes that they must deal with.

Socio-economic challenges

The socio-economic challenges are real and unless they are confronted, they will continue to threaten our peace and stability.

The dispute over chiefly titles continues to threaten Fijian unity

That is the reason we need to change our mindset. Adjustments must be made.

They should be part of our cultural evolution. A culture that does not evolve will one day become irrelevant and extinct.

The political talk about indigenous group rights by SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula is all talk. Will it benefit the iTaukei?

If they had existed before as he claimed, they certainly did not change the economic status of the iTaukei people.

There are iTaukei villagers today who are doing exactly the same things their forebearers did to maintain their way of living. Yet, the iTaukei own 91 per cent of Fiji’s landmass. That’s why they are described as asset rich but cash poor.

How much help were they given to developing their land before the Bainimarama government came in? Very little.

This FijiFirst Government is doing something about it. It is providing economic empowerment to landowners to develop their land commercially through grants.

For ordinary Fijians, they have been given small business grants to start them up in business.

Tangible help like that is more meaningful than the boring talk about rights.

People generally want to know how these political talks will translate into real benefits for Fijians.

iTaukei land is secure and safe

For the iTaukei, there are no excuses. Their land is secure and safe. Not one inch has been taken as claimed. They have the opportunities to develop their land and use their resources to improve their standard of living.

They must take education seriously to gain qualifications that open up new opportunities.

Achieving success

Those who have done so are reaping the rewards.  The iTaukei need to get rid of the low self-esteem and inferiority complex that often prevent them from progressing and achieving success.

Just because they live in a rural setting and in a communal way it cannot be used as an excuse not to do well.

This is the reason they need to change the mindset.

Education should be treated as a priority if they take it seriously. It means some activities, including some cultural obligations, should not get in the way of students making the necessary preparations to sit for exams and pass.

In a communal setting, it should be easier to work collaboratively if all the stakeholders are committed to one common objective.

This has been tried and it produced positive results in some schools. The challenge is to spread it to other schools.

One of the big challenges in a village setting is to find time to fulfil church and Vanua obligations before they can turn to the family for the balance of time.

Some families have moved to urban areas to focus on education and jobs.

They find that the environment in a communal setting is not conducive to their children focusing on their studies.

What they mean is there is less distraction. Is it? One would think there are more distractions in the urban areas than in rural areas. Or is that parents can escape their traditional obligations?

These are questions that need to be asked.

Rituals

Some aspects of the iTaukei culture are undergoing changes. For example, some of the rituals associated with funerals and weddings have been phased out or simplified to cut cost while retaining the core values.

As the changes take place, it should be clear that they are part of the cultural evolution.

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