Indigenous Group’s Split Big Letdown for Ro Teimumu
Ro Teimumu Kepa travels frequently to the United States because she has a big fan base there.
It’s also the hub of advocacy for Fijian indigenous group rights and interests.
Previously, she used to get a warm welcome, met at the airport and given a traditional welcome ceremony.
This time it was different. When she arrived at Los Angeles Airport after a long flight from Nadi to Auckland then to LA, no one was waiting for her. She is no ordinary Fijian. She is the Leader of the Opposition and Gone Marama Bale na Roko Tui Dreketi (Paramount Chief of Burebasaga). The no show at the airport by officials of the Fiji Native Tribal Congress which invited her indicates an organisation in disarray.
It was insulting and a humiliating experience for a high chief like Ro Teimumu, one of the FNTC founders. What was going on in their minds when they booked the cheapest economy seat on her connecting flight to New York where she was scheduled for more meetings.
The coast to coast flight provided no meals and no baggage allowance for a long haul flight which took 15 hours. Then to make matters worse, she was supposed to fly in a plane that stops at various cities before New York, meaning she would be in the plane for hours. When FNTC was set up years ago to fight for socalled group rights of the
iTaukei, Ro Teimumu was one of its faces. The Tui Cakau, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, SODELPA president and suspended MP, was also one of them. They still are but others have now taken over on the frontline.
The rival Fiji Indigenous People’s Foundation was formed later and appears to have overshadowed FNTC. The rivalry has become so bitter now as reflected in a Facebook post from Adi Asenaca Caucau. She has warned people from working with two FNTC officials. Adi Asenaca was a Cabinet minister in Laisenia Qarase’s SDL government.
It is understood that the battle is over funding that they receive from various sources to conduct their campaign. Previously when they started they depended on fundraising but that had placed pressure on people. Adi Asenaca has urged people to work with FIPF.
“We are organized, trusted, efficient and effective with strong leadership and integrity,” she said. The FNTC and FIPF are fighting on two different fronts for the same cause at the United Nations agencies and forums. This has come at the expense of Ro Teimumu in this recent trip. FIPF also wanted to host Ro Teimumu but her itinerary was kept away from it by FNTC, claims Adi Asenaca. Ro Teimumu had been advised not to go on this trip because of the uncertainty of the arrangements. But she ignored it because of her passion for the cause and her genuine desire to encourage the advocacy groups. Ro Teimumu will now have to think again before she says yes to another invitation. They have used her to prop up their US agenda and raise profile of their campaign to secure funding. Ro Teimumu would love to see just one united group. It would strengthen their cause.
The split is a big letdown for her.