Fijians will mark the 44th anniversary of their Independence from British Rule on October 10, with festivities, meetings and cocktail parties, one of which will also be held in Auckland with a significant number of people in attendance.
Independence Day this year would have a special significance for Fijians as the country has just carved out its path towards democracy in its true form and shape after decades of painful differences, internal squabbles and coups.
Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, who ruled the country as the Interim Prime Minister from December 5, 2006 to September 17, 2014 has not only returned with a massive mandate from his people but also enabled his people to determine their own destiny with self-respect and dignity.
The future is therefore characterised by enthusiasm and new-found energy with equality of citizenship, employment and commercial opportunity.
Fiji can look forward to regaining its glory with the slogan, “Fiji, the way the World should be.’
Fiji has grappled with political and economic issues with greater dexterity than was originally envisaged. In essence, the country is re-emerging as a leader among the smaller South Pacific nations with a firm economic agenda that will deliver its people into a new era of prosperity.
The former regimes, with three devastating coups (two in 1987 and another in 2000) witnessed political fallout, taking the country back by a few decades.
But the bona fides of Mr Bainimarama were manifest in the gradual re-emergence of Fiji as a popular destination for tourists, investors and businesses.
Mr Bainimarama believes the economy has the inherent capacity to bounce back but much would depend on the speed and efficiency with which reforms would be put in place, removing unwanted and cumbersome procedures and bureaucratic wrangling.
The expected areas of growth are broad-based, with wholesale and retail trade, transport and storage, clothing and footwear, construction and tourism poised for further growth.
The tourism sector has been main driver of growth, with positive flow-on effects to other sectors of the economy.
According to a legend, the Great Chief Lutunasobasoba led his people across the seas to the new land of Fiji. Most authorities agree that human migration to the Pacific occurred from Southeast Asia via Indonesia. Here the Melanesians and the Polynesians mixed to create a highly developed society, long before the arrival of the Europeans.
The European discoveries of the Fiji group were accidental. The first of these discoveries was made in 1643 by the Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman and English navigators including Captain Cook who sailed through in 1774 and made further explorations in the 18th century.
Major credit for the discovery and recording of the islands went to Captain William Bligh who sailed through Fiji after the mutiny on the Bounty in 1789. Despite constant European intervention, Fiji enjoyed a golden era for more than half a century, with the resourceful chiefs turning the tools and weapons brought by traders to their advantage. Canoes and houses were built, confederations formed and wars fought on a grand scale without precedent. Gradually and inevitably, the Fijian way of life changed. As Christianity spread in the islands, wars ceased abruptly and western clothing was adopted.
Following Fiji’s transfer to the authority of Great Britain in 1874, epidemics nearly wiped out the population and it seemed as if the natives were doomed. But the colonial government supported the Fijian cause.
Indian Newslink congratulates the people of the beautiful country of Fiji on the occasion of their 44th Independence Day and on the first year of their freedom from racism, political discrimination and corruption and wishes them success in all their endeavours.