Trouble in Fiji

You would all know about the troubles that Fiji has had with its governments over the past years. You will know that they are coming close to Italy with the number of prime ministers that they have had over a four year period. You will also be aware that the Australian and New Zealand representatives have been ejected from the country for interfering with the recent regime change. All of this happened in Suva on the mainland.

I was recently in Fiji, where I have a relaxing time. We spend a day on Nadi on the mainland before going off to the beautiful island of Tokoriki.

The Fijian people are very welcoming and friendly, and I found the indigenous ones were more so with me because of the brotherhood.

Fijians are aware that tourism brings in 65% of their economy, so they do not talk to outsiders about the political situation for fear of upsetting the balance. I found that they were more prepared to talk to me about the things that tourist do not see or hear and this has given me invaluable insight into the politics of Fiji.

Politically Fiji is divided along racial lines, The indigenous Fijians and the Indian settlers that were originally brought in by the British.

The Indians are the ones with the power, money and influence in Fiji. This would not be so bad except that the Indians have miss-used their power to take land and money from the indigenous Fijians.

The Indian story is quite impressive. It is a rags to riches story of a people that were indentured workers brought to Fiji by the British to work on the sugar plantations. They were originally only supposed to work for five years then return home, however when their five years were up, they did not have enough money to pay for the passage home, so they were forced to work on for another five years.

After these ten years had passed, they then began to return to India, however life in India had moved on and a lot of them returned to Fiji because they no longer fit in.

Once back in Fiji they lobbied the British run government to change the laws so that they could have the right to set up local business and trade. Once this was granted their story became the familiar success story that is familiar all over the world.

Once established, a new wave of Indian immigrants flooded Fiji. Doctors, lawyers, politicians, administrative staff and clerks, tipped the balance in favour of the ever increasing Indian population.

The language of business quickly became Hindu, which quickly excluded all non Indians.

Contracts were awarded to family contacts and nepotism continues to run unchecked.

By contrast the indigenous economy was not based on British values.

The Fijian economy could be equated to that of the Australian indigenous people. They lived off he land and traded goods and services with other villages, therefore having no need for money and Suva politics.

They stayed away from the antics of the colonials as they had little effect on their everyday lives. That is until the corruption of the Fijian Indians spilled into their world as lands were bought from underneath them and the leasing of land forced them into the economy of the settlers.

Now indigenous Fijians are seen and treated as second class citizens, working as servants to the once indentured Indian elite.

The current political uprising is an attempt to rectify this balance of power.

The coup has been led by an indigenous Fijian who, amongst other things, wishes to redress the balance of power to give more influence, and power back to his people.

I can see why it has happened and unfortunately it may be one of the few ways to redress the balance, especially if you follow the mantra that power can only be seized and not given.

Another unfortunate step that may be required to redress the balance, and I do not advocate it lightly, is one of positive discrimination. Like in the USA during the 60s and 70s, it may be required to force an institutionally racist society into accepting the indigenous people until, like the states from the 80s onward, it is no longer required.

There are stories of positive discrimination not working, like in South Africa, where corporations employ black figure heads who are told to dance by their white puppet masters.

The coup is not without selfish motive. The government may not be the most appropriate to act responsibly with absolute power, however change is required, as any government politics based along racial lines is unacceptable.


~ by jeditopcat on 25 November, 2009.

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