By Sakul Kundra
Fiji saw the phase of British Colonization for 96 years, the signing of the Deed of Cession in 1874 and the official grating of independence on 10 October 1970.
Fijians commemorate Independence Day with a spirit of patriotism that unites the nation and reflects the progress of the rich cultural nation.
The op-ed gives a reminiscence of the words of great leaders and academicians.
The Union Jack was lowered for the last time on 9 October 1970, Brij V. Lal in his book ‘Broken Waves: A History of the Fiji Islands in the Twentieth Century’ (1992) observes:
“The new sky blue flag of the independent Dominion of Fiji, with a miniature of the colonial flag in the top left-hand corner and bearing Fiji’s coat of arms with its dove of peace, was not raised until ten the next morning, some thirteen hours later. This unusual delay was intended to symbolize the respect that both parties accorded the transfer of power. Fiji was not marking the end of British rule so much as celebrating the birth of a new nation”.
There was a huge celebration on this day, with impressive and observing Fijian ceremonies for Prince Charles, who had handed the “Instrument of Independence to Ratu Mara, finally terminating the Deed of Cession”.
Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara said,
“Ladies and gentlemen, let us salute the Union Jack. The symbol that has governed this country for the last 96 years is coming down for the very last time. We are going to be masters of our destiny. We have come of age. Let us say farewell and ni sa moce to Her Majesty the Queen and to the Union Jack”.
On the historic juncture of Prince Charles declaring independence must have left a long-standing mark in the heart of thousands of Fijians, who will cherish the moment forever.
In response, Fiji’s first PM said:
“(But) today is a proud day for us all for today we assume control of our own destiny and take on full adult responsibilities after a long period of tutelage. But we do not only take responsibility for ourselves, we take it on for each other.”
“We are a community of races, with different cultures, customs, and languages but the things that unite us, far outnumber those in which we differ. Above all, there is our fixed, joint determination to build a strong, united Fiji, rich in diversity and tempered with tolerance, goodwill, and understanding. Given a happy continuance of these conditions, and we must all contribute positively to them, I am confident that Fiji can show the world an example of harmony and progress out of all proportion to its size. And as we enter this new era, I pray for God’s guidance and blessing on the independent dominion of Fiji and all our people.”
Prime Minister also said:
“We have a long and close association with Britain…We became dependent in a warm spirit of friendliness and trust and we become independent in the same warm spirit”.
Another quote from the Hon PM stated that:
“The second unique event in our history was the attainment of our independence. Unique in the sense that there was no demand, no struggle, no bloodshed – but through dialogue and consensus as demonstrated by the mood in which we celebrated our independence”.
Brij V. Lal quoted the mood of the day in a poem by a high school student from Labasa:
There’s a new life in view
There’s gold in the blue
There’s hope in the hearts of men
Fiji is on the way
To a happier day
For the road is open again
Today, on the occasion of 53 years of independence, Fiji’s “Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has commended the journey of resilience, unity and the unwavering spirit of Fijians. He says this year’s Fiji Day theme, “Rebuilding Fiji Together,” reflects not only aspirations but also the indomitable spirit that has guided people all through the years”.
The independence and the birth of the new nation in 1970 will always be a historical junction for all Fijians to take pride and show patriotism towards the nation and unite together to take Fiji ahead. This day reminds us of the unity, cultural diversity, and shared values.
The way forward shall be Go Fiji Go and reach new heights of peace, progress, and prosperity.
Contributing Author: Dr Sakul Kundra is an Associate Dean (Research) and Assistant Professor at the College of Humanities and Education, Fiji National University. The views expressed are his own and not of this newspaper or his employer. Email email@example.com
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The Australia Today is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts, or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of The Australia Today and The Australia Today News does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
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