Category Archives: Fiji

What Do Google Users Know About Fiji and Fijians?

Searching Google for Fiji? Try stopping for answers here.

Where do Fijians Come From?

I am sure the question above is asked by Americans the most. Where do Americans come from? Fijians come from the South Pacific Island country of Fiji.

Why is Fiji water so good or so bad?

I’ll pick so bad. Where do we start? A sizable population of Fijians cannot access safe drinking water while the rest of the world is having the ‘drop of water untouched by civilization.’ Fiji Water is actually not owned by Fiji, pays no taxes to the military regime, and the people of Fiji do not benefit from the corporation in our country. Moreover, the American corporation has trademarked the brand name FIJI–the name of a nation-state–without paying anything to the Fijian government.  Lets not get started on the carbon footprint.

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Getting Over Sex Tabboo Critical to HIV+ Prevention

It’s World AIDs Day and nothing hampers the prevention of HIV and AIDS more than ignorance and tabboo.

Sex is still a taboo subject in most Indian and Fijian communities.

In India, over 2.3 million adults live with HIV. Even a liberal Bollywood has been slow to push the envelope with no real commercial films on the subject though a recent film Kaminey did contain an AIDS awareness song and Aamir Khan is thinking about making one next year.

As for Fiji, given the ultra religious climate and condemnation of everything from abortion to pre-marital, HIV and AIDS education poses a real challenge. President Nailatikau, for all his faults, at least realizes the outdated and foolish nature of preaching abstinence. Whether or not the faith-based and religious leaders follow his advice is another matter.

AIDS is not just a gay male problem. Women’s empowerment and sex education are key preventative measures that cannot come faster for societies faced with a growing number of HIV+ cases. And big pharmaceutical companies won’t distribute vaccines or medications to people in need anytime soon. We are left to fend for ourselves.

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Fiji Falls On the Press Freedom Index

The latest press freedom index rankings released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has Fiji plunging 73 places to 152 after a crackdown on the media by Fijian dictator Frank Bainimarama.

No criticism whatsoever is allowed of Commodore Bainimarama or the military regime. Under Section 16 (1) of the Emergency Regulations (titled “Control of Broadcast and Publications”), if the Permanent Secretary for Information (Lieutenant Colonel Neumi Leweni) “has reason to believe that any broadcast or publication may give rise to disorder … or promote disaffection or public alarm, or undermine the Government” then he “may, by order, prohibit such broadcast or publication”.

As a consequence of this policy, Baimarama moved soldiers into newsrooms for weeks to censor stories. Foreign journalists were deported, including Rex Gardner, publisher of The Fiji Times. A Fiji One TV reporter, Edwin Nand was thrown into jail for reportedly transmitting information overseas. Recently, a Mother Jones reporter doing an investigative piece on Fiji Water was kidnapped, questioned and almost raped.

When the Permanent Secretary of Information was asked whether censorship regulations of Fiji media would be relaxed, he replied that if it was up to him, it would be kept in place for another 5 years.

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A Fijian Miss Idaho Teen USA 2010

“Fiji is my home. I love Idaho but my heart will always be home in Ca’audrove.”

Hosanna Kabakoro

This story about a 16-year old Fijian-American teenager winning a beauty contest in the USA was a much-needed break from the quick-scanning of the thousand articles that I engage in daily, along with constant regurgitation of the same old boring themes.

Apparently, Hosanna has been making waves for quite some time. Not only did Hosanna Kobakoro win Miss Idaho Teen USA 2010, but she also won the title of Miss Congeniality and was voted Most Photogenic in an online contest. Mark my words–she will be the next most famous Fijian after golfer Vijay Singh.

She is not just all beauty and no brains as stereotypes go. Hosanna has received awards and recognition from the former First Lady Laura Bush for her volunteer work. And as far as intelligence goes, I found an award-winning essay by Hosanna that was incredibly moving considering the story is all too familiar:

When I was 12 years old, Fiji’s government was overthrown in its third coup d’etat since 1987. Indigenous Fijians, stirred by ambitious rabble rousers, began tormenting the minority populations of Indians, Asians and Europeans. Shops were looted and burned, homes were invaded and gangs of armed rebels controlled highways and rural roads.

One hot afternoon, while my dad was away, a tractor carrying 30 armed men crashed through our gate. They splashed kerosene over our house and belongings. When I recognized one of them as my playmate’s father, I asked, “Momo,” Uncle! Why are you doing this?”

He shouted that Fiji was for Fijians. The men called us names and brandished their machetes. They destroyed our garden and tore up our taro and cassava plants. We had no choice but to leave our home and move to Idaho where we started over from scratch.

Fiji is indeed, for Fijians. The Fiji Times is happy to call her Fijian rather than using any other hyphenated designation while celebrating her success. We need more ambitious and driven young people like Hosanna back in Fiji rather than spending our lives in exile from the only country we call home. Sadly, while corrupt ‘leaders’ like Bainimarama stay in power, we may never be safe in our homes.

Congratulations Hosanna. I hope to see you back home in a decade, making the difference that you as well as many other people envision for Fiji.

-A Fijian from California

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DownFall of Fiji: Coup Culture or PostColonial Failure?

In response to the fourth coup in the Fiji Islands in as many as seventeen years, the international community demanded the restoration of democracy and order in the country. While Sitiveni Rabuka, Fiji’s first coup leader, expressed regret over introducing the concept of military takeover in the country, Dr Brij Lal—an architect of Fiji’s 1997 Constitution—said that Fiji has a ‘coup culture’ in that there is little respect for law and order, and coups will continue because the people responsible for them are never really brought to justice. Coupster and leader of the current illegal regime, Commodore Bainimarama has exploited the problems in Fiji to grab and retain power, while doing little to alleviate the suffering of the poor and working classes. He is yet another opportunist with little understanding or answers to the deep-seated problems plaguing the island nation.

Fiji, the way the world should be’ is an advertising slogan from the late Pope John Paul which has met its demise after four and half coups. The idea that this place is a Paradise has penetrated the Euro-American imagination. This is supplemented in a large part by the tourist industry in Fiji, making slogans and myths that paint a romantic picture of Fiji, hiding the grim difficulties that the multi-ethnic nation is trying to resolve. The National Geographic website states that “the Fiji Islands comprise 333 islands in the South Pacific, with beaches, coral gardens, and rain forests.” It forgot to mention that Fiji also includes people that have survived European colonization and are now struggling with European concepts like multi-ethnic democracy, sovereignty, parliament, and law amidst fresh colonization from tourists.

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What has Saved Fiji from total Economic Collapse?

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The Commodore needs to listen carefully to this economist:

THREE things saved Fiji from complete disaster after the 1987 and the 2000 coups: the private sector, sugar and tourism, economist Dr Biman Prasad said yesterday.

He told the Training and Productivity Authority of Fiji’s Better Business Conference at the Novotel Convention that Centre that the private sector remained resilient.

“It is likely to remain the hope for a good economic recovery in the future,” Dr Prasad said.

“Many have suffered losses but have continued to operate in difficult conditions.”

Dr Prasad added that economics and politics were inseparable and offered some advice to the government.

“The government must understand that it is in control, it is running the country without any opposition,” he said.

H/T: Fiji Times

The problem is that Commodore Bainimarama handles the monetary policy (the Finance portfolio) for Fiji even though he has little clue or training in economics. Reports of military hoodlums beating up random people in the streets does nothing to promote tourism or private sector confidence. And as a primary product, sugar can never really do much to change the economy of Fiji from one based on primary production for Western consumption to one that brings about greater economic independence.

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Food More Important Than Democracy In Fiji?

This statement from Peceli Kinivuwaii of the depoused SDL Party is disheartening:

“Because the majority of the people of Fiji – in particular the indigenous community – don’t know the meaning and the value of democracy. That is why people are left alone in the wilderness, particularly naive and totally oblivious to what is happening.”

Disheartening not because of lack of democracy in Fiji, but because the population lacks access to education and the means to participate in government. This cannot simply be remedied by holding elections in Fiji tomorrow, but by building the necessary infrastructure, something that no one wants to talk about.

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