Friday, October 09, 2009

Ratu Mara Book Launch - October 09, 2009

Three prime ministers from the region will be in Suva on October 10 for the launch of a major biography of Fiji’s late “founding father” Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, head of the Papua New Guinea Government, and a close friend to Ratu Mara for many years, is to be the principal guest at the function, which coincides with the 39th anniversary of Fiji’s Independence.

Also expected at the launch, at the invitation of Sir Michael, are Solomon Islands premier Dr Derek Sikua and Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapel.

Sir Michael will be honoured on Saturday with rare and elaborate Fiji ceremonies by the ‘Vanua ko Lau’ of Suva.

According to a press statement, the ceremonies were last performed for Ratu Mara at a meeting of the Lau Provincial Council in 2000. Similar rituals were staged for Sir Michael when he visited Ratu Mara’s home at Lakeba, Lau, about 35 years ago.

Historian Dr Deryck Scarr, the author of the biography, Tuimacilai: A life of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, said Sir Michael regarded Ratu Mara as “the pillar of the Pacific” because he was a great champion of the region in international affairs and a believer in co-operation between South Pacific States.

The biography is the first substantial account of Ratu Mara’s life and career since his death over five years ago.

Ratu Mara, a former Prime Minister, President and paramount chief of Lau in the eastern Fiji Islands, was Fiji’s pre-eminent political figure in the lead up to independence and in the first decades of nationhood.

Ratu Mara has close links to the current administration. His daughter Adi Koila is the wife of Acting President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

Ratu Mara’s eldest daughter Adi Ateca is the wife of Ratu Epeli Ganilau – current Acting Prime Minister, Minister for Defence, former military commander.

Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, his second son, is the head of the Fiji military’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, responsible for much of the military’s “clean-up” of the Laisenia Qarase-led Government in 2006

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