EXEMPLIFIES FIJIAN UNITY
Vatukarasa on the Coral Coast, has over the years, lived the true spirit of national unity.
Yesterday, it reached another milestone. The community of iTaukei villagers from a predominantly Christian background and IndoFijian Muslim group came together to celebrate the Muslim event of Eid-ul-Adha. Two senior Government ministers jointed them. Village elder Apenisa Lanivia said: “In our multi-ethnic, multireligious society, we all must do more to share the important symbols and traditions of our faith – not to force our beliefs on others but rather to build understanding and unity.
“Fiji is multicultural country and we should commend the effort of our Prime Minister that there is now unity in Fiji. “Under the 2013 Constitution we are all now known as Fijians. People of different faiths are important in a free society, a free society like we have in Fiji. People of faith give voice to moral and ethics. We should commend our people who are making this possible. “People may wonder about our relationship with both our Muslim communities here at Vatukarasa and also at Sovi. We from this village are the landowners of both settlements as we regard them as part of our families. Most of them have indigenous Fijian names from the village. Some have strengthened this relationship though inter-marriage with us. Some of you may be asking this question: How long they have been here?” To respond to this, Ms Lavinia said it was the fourth and fifth generations of both settlements who had been living with them for more than 100 years.
“It is our hope that you will enjoy being in a beautiful village environment and may be later you would make a reference to what you had seen and experience today shows what we are missing in the world and that is the way the world should be.” Vatukarasa Muslim branch president Nelson Ali said the Muslim community had developed a strong relationship with the landowners for all these years. “This is a programme to celebrate the peace, harmony and tolerance and to show this strong integration between the two societies.” He said around 150 Muslims and 500 iTaukei lived side by side. Minister for Health and Medical Services Rosy Akbar, who joined the celebrations, said: “This is a historic occasion where we put aside our different beliefs, culture and tradition and come together as one.” She added this was an occasion to bury individual and collective differences to pave the way to lasting peace. She commended the organisers, the Vatukarasa Muslim Community, Tui Conua Ratu Luke Veidovi and the villagers for a great example of unity and tolerance. “It shows the way forward in terms of working as one nation of one people for the betterment of this nation. Like any other religion, Islam preaches the same values which are peace and harmony,” she said. “The Fijian generosity and sharing is simply unmatched and that is exactly what are we witnessing today. This must not end here. It must continue to support those who advocate for unity, peace and harmony in our beloved country, Fiji.”
Chief guest Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development and National Disaster Inia Seruiratu said: “As we aspire to build a new Fiji, we are fortunate to have a community as such who not only embraces tolerance with others but most importantly share their resources as well for others to dwell together in unity despite our diversity.”
He said it was a unique celebration, based on love and respect. He said Vatukarasa had not only talked about peace. “They have been living it,” he said.
Standing from left: Muffti Zainal Abu Dean, Minister for Agriculture Inia Seruiratu, Minister for Health and Medical Services Rosy Akbar, Tui Conua Ratu Luke Veidovi with 84-year-old Torika Galo (seated), at Vatukarasa yesterday.
Minister for Agriculture Inia Seruiratu (left), and Minister for Health and Medical Services Rosy Akbar, with 84-year-old Torika Galo, at Vatukarasa yesterday.