Vakaturaga Saka kina Vanua o Nabukebuke vua na Turaga
na Tui Namosi;
Na italai ni Kalou, sa mai wasea tiko na itukutuku vinaka ena
Kemuni na Sausauvou ni vanua o Nabukebuke kei na
Nomuni Dui Vuvale;
Kei Kemuni na Dauniveituberi ena Vuli ni Sausauvou.
Bula Vinaka. It is a pleasure to be here with you all this morning.
I’m grateful to the Vanua o Nabukebuke for encouraging its future traditional leaders to undertake this training. Your support ensures that Fiji’s future leaders are ready to fill traditional leadership vacancies as they become available. Indeed, many stand empty at this very moment.
To the participants, I thank you for your sacrifice and commitment to this training. Today’s ceremony will be an occasion that you will think back on with pride throughout your life and will instill you with confidence in your abilities whenever you face difficult decisions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Namosi has a rich and proud history. Your ancestors were part of a warrior clan that traversed coasts, hills, plains and valleys before choosing to settle in Namosi. They were a people that came from several different Provinces, united by the common goal of finding a safe, viable new home.
This diversity and sense of community enables us to embraceand appreciate the many rich traditions and cultures which make Fiji what it is today. Our record has proved we are far stronger when we are united, when we work together, lead together, harness the many talents of our people, and build a better Fiji side-by-side with all of our fellow Fijians.
Over the past six weeks you have learned the essence of our traditional governance system. You have seen how it has been changed for the better by greater access to knowledge, changing ideas and ideals, and improved standards of living.
Namosi, even twenty years ago, is different from what it is today. People today place far greater more value on the conceptsof equality, transparency, open communication, and competence.They want to see their natural and economic resources governed by leaders whose focus is on the benefit of the whole community – not just on themselves.
They want leaders who are qualified to lead them, who are well-trained, and who truly serve all people, not those who expect power to be given to them by birthright alone and who only serve themselves and the elites.
Traditional leadership today cannot exist in a vacuum, it must be responsive to the many factors that now influence non-urban communities – from better access to education through my Government’s Free Education Grant, to every Fijian now being able to access information, news and more through our national network, Walesi – which as you know provides free connections for households that earn less than $30,000 a year and in community halls and schools.
To the young leaders present here, I want to share some of the important lessons that I’ve learned in opportunities where I have been humbled to lead our people.
The responsibility of leadership is a privilege. It is not about barking orders or demanding loyalty. And it is never about putting yourself above those you’re meant to serve.
The duty of leadership demands that you operate at the same level as those who have trusted you to lead them.
I know from my time in the Military that a fighting force can only function with clear chains of command. Orders must be followed by those authorized to give them. But even orders can ring hollow when the women and men in your command do not have faith in your morality, your sense of fairness, or your honesty. Even if those orders are followed, that does not mean the leader is admired. Because, my friends, obedience does not always mean respect. Good leaders know this –– and whether they lead soldiers or civilians –– they know that respect must be earned. And real leaders do so by setting an example that others can follow. By being fair. By being honest and genuine always. And by showing the courage to show compassion. That quality of leadership pays limitless dividends because respect is what drives people to truly excel. It is what leads people and communities to achieve more than they thought possible.
The people of Namosi are looking to you to provide them with that kind of leadership. Leadership that will inspire and give them hope. Leadership that earns their respect, not the kind of leadership that demoralizes the Vanua and its people.
Government can set priorities and allocate funds, but true progress depends on the leadership that is in touch with the everyday challenges and successes of the people. A good leader will yield a stable family, Tokatoka, Mataqali and Yavusa. An unworthy one will breed indifference and in turn create discrimination and conflicts.
You have a core part to play in the growth of the Fijian economy and in the positive transformation of our society. You will be a partner with your Government; working with us every single day to ensure that those living in your communities are not left behind.
Please, be an agent of change not just for your Province but for your country and all Fijians irrespective of who they are, where they come from, what they look like, what belief they follow and what their status is. You are leaders for all. Congratulations on your achievement here once again.