S’Pacifically Speaking: Mad to Fooled!
March is usually touted as Mad March by retailers when referring to any last minute opportunities for sales promotions of their products – how many times do you hear of the Mad March Sale in that month! The late great James Datta with his team at BP’s Homecentres did amazing deals and television promos that allowed ordinary households to own washing machines, bigger television sets, state of the art audio equipment, computers, household goods, whiteware, , furniture etc – you name it you could get it on easy terms! 12 months after that, the items began to be collected by the same company due to non payment of instalments or whatever reason the customers didn’t honour their agreements – and I think that’s when April Fool set in – from being mad in March to fooled in April, which I think was the natural progression (I just made that up!). From the deals still around these days, the cash flow in the economy must be flush as ads appearing every week are so tempting – especially for mobile phones, aps and plans! Let’s hope the return of goods element has lessened, otherwise we haven’t learnt a thing over the years. Times have changed. Certain sounds in the atmosphere are becoming as familiar as birds singing to wake you up every morning – they do in my residence anyway as I have many trees surrounding me, much to the disgust of the SCC. The sounds of sirens – police sirens of course, and that raucous whine used by the Nazis during World War II – no dear reader, I wasn’t around then but note the noise in movies of old, especially the first “Diary of Anne Frank” movie. I almost changed my religion, epecially when I first heard the sirens here in Fiji, it was so eerie. And it seems to be so often in the morning. Are they rounding up criminals, showing off or rushing to the toilet at the station? Be calm dear police persons - learn first how not to cross at a pedestrian crossing when the lights are red – as a policeperson you are committing a crime right before our very eyes. Aren’t you the custodians of law and order? Be calm. The second sound that is getting familiar around Flagstaff is the call to prayer from the mosque up the road at Bau Street – have been hearing this for the past few months. It must be a new trend as have never heard if before – times are a changing, or perhaps too many intervening trees have been cut.Visitors from overseas are constantly amazed at the wonderful eating establishments in Suva owned and run by women, or women with their husbands and partners. I try to take visiting friends and family to a variety of the eating spots and they are amazed at the quality of the food and the style of the venues. Governors, Palm Court, Mango or any Kalara Vusoniwailala eating establishment, Ginger Café, Café Victoria, Bulaccino, The Galley and then there is Eden, to name a few. And that’s only Suva – the West and the North have dynamite establishments, especially The Orchid. The Mad Hatters Hut has joined the list as of last month and the two young owners, mothers Ella and Lorraine, are just amazing – the Hut is totally children friendly where there is a little play area cum magical garden where the children can amuse themselves whilst mum has a much needed latte in peace. So so proud of you all. Even more proud to hear the news of our own Renu Chand, the former president of the Fiji Institute of Accountants and partner in KPMG Fiji who was awarded top accounting honours, together with 144 accountants worldwide for her outstanding service of more than 20 years in the accounting profession in Fiji and the Pacific. So so proud of your achievements Renu – a quiet achiever, highly professional and respected, Renu has never failed to help charitable causes with advice and financial assistance. Renu herself hails from a strong family background and in turn has nurtured a wonderful young family with her much respected husband, Pramesh. Whilst on the subject of amazing women, congratulations to young Judith Beverly Giblin, a 25 year old Masters graduate in Past and Current Geoenvironments from the University of Lille in France and currently studying for her Masters in Climate Change at USP specialising in Micropaleontology, Geology, Sedimentology and Sequence stratigraphy (please google like I did to find out what it means!). A young Fiji Greenie, Judith was sponsored by the Asia Pacific Green Federation to attend the Global Greens Conference that was held late last month in Liverpool. Even more exciting is the fact that she participated as a panelists to discuss the policies for ocean sustainability, providing a Pacific viewpoint on the strides that the Pacific has made. Congratulations Judith – we’ll hear more about her participation in next month’s S’Pacifically Speaking. Fiji’s two Green candidates were successful out of the three Pacific funded positions but unfortunately our other candidate was unsuccessful in receiving her visa. More opportunities coming up though for our young professionals. You may have noticed the number of cruise ships that have berthed at the Suva and Lautoka wharves and also plying the waters in the North. I was very excited to see them on the horoizon of our capital city once again – once upon a time they dominated the skyline and you could see them from Toorak and even parts of Knolly Street as they towered over the Burns Philp clock but alas no more, with the high rise buildings now in place you can only see them up close and personal along Stinson Parade. But their presence is good. However some alarming reality figures released by the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, SPTO, informs us that Fiji has less than a hundred cruise liners visiting us annually. The highest figure was in 2013 when 75 liners came here – there are no figures supplied by our national tourism office for 2016 but we had 51 visiting ships for 2015. In 2015, The Kingdom of Tonga and Samoa each welcomed 13 ships to their shores, PNG had 25 and New Caledonia had 213 while Vanuatu received 252 visiting tourist ships in 2013! All figures were supplied by the individual island nations’ national tourism offices and when I asked Jennifer Butukoro, tourism research officer at the SPTO why the higher numbers for Vanuatu and New Caledonia she explained that they were also nearer to Australia and New Zealand and therefore easily accessible, and the tourist were mainly from those two countries. Interesting indeed and thank you Jennifer and Ro Bulou Adi Rusila Drekeni for your great assistance.
Until next month – Divine Mercy blessings. Pax Vitia, BRG
Mrs BERNADETTE ROUNDS GANILAU is a former radio personality and Member of Parliament. Now retired, she continues with her NGO work and runs her own business.