The Assistant Minister for iTaukei Affairs, Hon Selai Adimaitoga;
The Permanent Secretaries for iTaukei Affairs and for
Lands and Mineral Resources; and
Staff of the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs.
Bula vinaka, and a very good morning to you all. And what a wonderful morning it is.
It’s a pleasure to be with you today, here at the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, where we gather to celebrate 50 years of Fijian independence.
I want to take a moment to speak to you not as your Minister, nor as your Prime Minister, but as a fellow Fijian.
I remember the day that Fiji was born like it was yesterday. Even as a young boy, I remember the great pride that we shared as a nation, and the feeling of unity, of being one, and of being whole. I remember the great hope, and great potential, that we felt for our country.
But even behind all that excitement, and all that hope, was a level of uncertainty, and a churning feeling of anxiety.
As humans, it’s natural for us to fear the unknown. And at the time, the idea of forming a new, independent country –– one with not only our own flag, but our own Government, with our own fate in our hands, was, in some ways, intimidating.
We knew Independence was only the first great leap, that the coming decades could bring us many challenges. And if we wanted to build a truly great nation it would take hard work, it would take every measure of our resilience, and it would demand sacrifices. Above all, it would require we find strength in one another; that we stand together, as one people, in both good times and the bad. That we unite as a people, irrespective of background.
Hope over-shadowed any fear on that bright morning in 1970, our first-ever Fiji Day. And it is that same undying sense of hope that got Fiji through many an obstacle in the decades that followed.
As we come together to celebrate, a half-century later, Fiji, like nations around the world, is left dealing with the economic fall-out of a global pandemic. Still, we can take comfort in those things that drive us – the resilience and unity of our people, our togetherness, and our eternal flame of hope. Again, the future is uncertain. But we know if we work hard, if we stand together and look out for one another, we will press through this crisis onto better days, and we will be stronger for having endured it.
I look forward to hearing the traditional poems and songs that you’ve worked so hard to practise and put together today. Let me tell you this: You’re making Fiji proud by showcasing your talents. Over the years, I’ve had such joy as the Minister for iTaukei Affairs, and as Prime Minister, to watch our rich indigenous heritage be showcased not just around Fiji, but all throughout the world.
Fiji’s position on the global stage has never been stronger. Never before have so many eyes around the world been on our peoples, our cultures, and our traditions. And when we are able to finally, and safely, re-open our borders, I look forward to continuing that progress – To showing the world our different songs, our different dances, our arts, and our ceremonies.
To watch as world leaders, Presidents, UN chiefs, and royalty, sip their first cup of kava, and watch in wonder as we showcase the best of the traditions we hold dear.
Because by doing so, my friends, those traditions are being preserved far longer than 50 years; they are being immortalized in history books and memories alike, all around the world, for eternity. And today, on our nation’s 50th anniversary, that is something we can all be proud of.
Vinaka vakalevu, God bless you, and God bless Fiji.