Fiji Four Decades On

By | October 10, 2011

Source: Fred Wesley – The Fji Times
Monday, October 10, 2011

Today we mark 41 years of independence from Great Britain.

Our early history is marked by many significant events, most of which shaped the perceptions of people and the colony.

There was the signing of the deed of cession on October 10, 1874 when our chiefs handed over Fiji to the British Crown.

There was also a dark side to our history, one best forgotten. It involved cannibalism.

There was the blackbirding period when labourers were brought in from the New Hebrides (now known as Vanuatu) and the Solomon Islands to work on cotton plantations here.

The indenture period was an important part of Fiji’s development.

From 1875 to 1916, 87 shiploads brought in over 60,000 labourers to work on sugarcane plantations around the country.

It forever changed our socio-political landscape.

Men from Fiji joined the allied campaign during World War Two and we were again at the forefront of the Malayan campaign.

Our soldiers moved on to enlist in the British armed forces and gained a reputation as capable and feared men of war.

October 10, 1970 was the day we gained our independence as a young nation, free from the authority of the British Crown.

We were given the right to lead our nation the way we saw fit.

That became the platform for us to grow as a nation.

Today, wherever we are, let us consider this as reasonable motivation to be thankful for who we are.

We have obviously come a long way from pre-independence days. It hasn’t been easy going. We have stumbled along the way, but as would any committed person, we persevered as a country, learning from our mistakes as we came through the past 41 years.

History can either be kind on us, or ruthless, but the important thing is, in a sense, we are the leaders of our own destiny.

However as we celebrate this very important date in Fiji’s history, let us do so because we care for our country and its future.

Today should be about reflection.

It should be about acknowledgement of where we were, where we are now and where we can be in the future.

Today, let us believe in ourselves as a people and let us continue to do what we do daily, keeping in mind our contribution, however little it may seem, could have a positive impact on the development of our country.

We wish you a happy Fiji Day.