Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama
FANCA is a biennial event that brings together Muslims of Fiji and their friends and families who live abroad. The FANCA Federation includes Fijians living in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA- countries to which most Fijians have migrated.
The FANCA Tournament allows all of you to renew your friendships in a social and sporting environment. This year, at the Ninth FANCA Tournament, we have more than 700 people visiting our shores and are delighted to have you back again in Fiji.
No matter where you have chosen to live, Fiji will always be your home. We are friends and family. Our ties and our affection are not diminished by time or distance, but are reinforced and strengthened whenever we meet.
This tournament was conceived in 1995 as a way to bring together those who had migrated overseas to seek more opportunity and a better life for their children and grandchildren. Many of you had given up on Fiji.
You had lost hope that you could ever have an equal stake in our nation.
Times have changed, restoring hope, because we have established once and for all that every citizen deserves the same rights and opportunities as anyone else.
We have genuine equality. And for the first time, everyone is a Fijian. We all belong to one family, no matter where we come from and whatever be our beliefs. It is a wonderful time to be Fijian as we set our sights on a united future, with all the possibility that holds for us all and for future generations.
Fiji is being transformed today. It is not only back on the road to economic prosperity, but also rapidly becoming a society of opportunity.
I urge all of you to look at your homeland with fresh eyes, consider coming back or at least taking out Fijian citizenship, which you can now do without losing the citizenship of the country where you have settled.
We have had security and stability over the past eight years and hence the confidence of our citizens has been restored. All sorts of opportunities now present themselves in the wake of our successful General Election, which the international community declared as credible, free and fair.
There is a new spirit of optimism in the air. Confidence in our nation has never been higher. There is confidence in our economy, which grew by 4.6% last year and is in the throes of one of the biggest surges in our history.
I would like to echo the sentiments of our Attorney General (Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum) to have these tournaments held exclusively in Fiji, since the common factor that binds the FANCA family together is the link with Fiji.
It is obviously very expensive for Fijian Muslims to take three teams from Fiji to North America, and many people simply cannot afford the expense.
We know that you former Fijians are richer than us!
But it also gives all of you from overseas the opportunity to reconnect with your homeland and enjoy the famous Fijian hospitality. You may already be connected by faith but we want you all to keep your roots here because wherever you are, you will always be Fijian.
In that spirit, I wish to thank Team New Zealand, who graciously allowed this tournament to be hosted in Fiji, as it was two years ago.
We also hope that you will hold your 20th Anniversary gathering here in Fiji in 2017.
On behalf of the Fijian people, I also want to pay tribute to the FANCA community for the assistance it has given to the Fiji Muslim League for disaster relief in Fiji.
Charity is one of the five pillars of Islam and your contributions to alleviate the suffering from the floods in the west and Hurricane Evan are deeply appreciated.
Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama is Prime Minister of New Zealand. The above is an edited version of his speech at the Opening of the Fiji Muslim League at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori, Fiji on October 15, 2014.