Monday, March 01, 2010

Fiji Barefoot Law

by Serafina Silaitoga

Fiji Times - Monday, March 01, 2010

NEW village laws introduced by a group of village heads in the Northern Division restrict people from wearing shoes, women growing long hair and wearing shorts and limit freedom of clothing and leisure activities.

The 200 villagers of Nukubalavu in Savusavu have to take off their shoes when entering the village boundary and walk barefoot to their homes. This rule also applies to visitors.

Health authorities, however, have expressed concern, saying walking barefoot could expose villagers to diseases such as leptospirosis. The Cakaudrove divisional health office in Savusavu said it would act to protect villagers from exposure to health risks.

Ministry of Health permanent secretary Dr Salanieta Saketa said the ministry would investigate before making a statement on the issue.

Roko Tui Cakaudrove Ro Aca Mataitini was away in Taveuni but the provincial office said that laws decided by the villagers and their chiefs were entirely up to them and applicable only in the village boundary. On hairstyles and banishment of villagers for marijuana and homebrew breach, the office referred all queries to Ro Aca.

All women and children with long hair have cut and keep their hair short.

The decision of the village elders follows last year's Cakaudrove provincial council meeting where they were asked to protect the Fijian culture from modernisation.

Village headman Maciu Baleidaku confirmed that new rules have been put in place restricting villagers from certain freedoms of clothing and leisure activities.

Anyone caught with marijuana or drinking homebrew in the village boundary would be banished, he said.

He said Savusavu chief Tui Nasavusavu Ratu Suliano Naulu and tribal heads of the village have been engaged in meetings on the new law the past two weeks. Mr Baleidaku said the chiefs agreed to introduce the laws after the two-week meeting.

He said concerns were raised about how villagers and visitors continued to show a lack of respect for Fijian culture and traditions through disrespectful dressing and unnecessary loud noise in the villages.

Men who spend long hours drinking yaqona have been told cut down and spend time with their families.

The new laws, Mr Baleidaku said, would be put submitted to the police and the Cakaudrove provincial office in Savusavu.

Mr Baleidaku said village police officers had been chosen to make sure rules were followed. He said villagers had been informed and accepted the decision.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My name is TUKANA.. My comment is that of my own personal opinion on your news story concerning "The decision of the village elders follows last year's Cakaudrove provincial council meeting where they were asked to protect the Fijian culture from modernisation."

I believe that Fijian Chiefs, live for,work for and represent the villages as figure heads to which all people, VISITORS and villagers should look up to. Although there may be some that are unhappy with certain evaluations brought and presented to villages by the elders, I feel that if steps are not taken to conserve the "rights of passage" beliefs, customs and traditions as well as seeing to it that not just villagers but also tourists/visitors adhere to the rules of village life, then NUKUBALAVU and other villages throughout FIJI will lose a part of themselves, will lose a part of who they are,will lose grasp on where they have come from resulting in emptiness, care free decisions where villagers would act like visitors and tourists. Keeping in-mind that Island nations like that of FIJI are susceptible to change naturally just as the rest of the world progresses, It would then be reckless for any village elders (in my own opinion) to outright withhold growth by way of modernization. If you loose hold of who you and your nation are, (customs traditions etc)then how can you remember and truly understand those that have sacrificed for what they believe to be a true FIJIAN or villager. However - by withholding modern growth, Fiji could find itself lagging behind not only in village life but national growth.
LONG STORY SHORT... It is up to ALL Fijians regardless of birthrights, to work together with village elders and most importantly EACHOTHER to find a way that FIJI can grow in all aspects to become a nation that is modern and educated, but still retains its identity as FIJIAN - not just another island in the pacific. an example of what i am trying to explain would be, China or Japan or Korea, or any nation that has a long history. These nations ( all of considerable vast size and population) are have progressing towards 1st and 2nd world status (rather than 3rd world country ranking)but have all managed to intergrate their rich history, customs and traditions into modern times and living. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE ROOM TO PROGRESS IN THE WORLD, BUT IF WE LOSE WHO WE ARE, AND WHAT WE REPRESENT, THEN WHO WILL WE BECOME IN THE FUTURE, and to FIND OURSELVES IN THE FUTURE NOT KNOWING THE CUSTOMS, TRADITIONS AND BELIEFS OF OUR PEOPLE , would reduce is to ask the question.. WHO ARE WE or WHO AM I.

all in all i think that bare feet, or reduced consumption of yaqona to spend time with family, or limiting visitors actions to conform with fijian ways of life, are all small prices to pay if WE as FIJIANS never fail to forget who we are, as well as showing tourist and visitors that this is "THE REAL FIJI" the way it should be not just another small island nation in the south pacific.