A Look at ‘Six Nights in May’
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of the University of the South Pacific or the Bavadra – (the Fiji Labour Party and the National Federation Party coalition government. For the coup leader he claimed that he was protecting an elected government from the wrath of the indigenous nationalist iTaukei Movement, which demonstrated its grievance through organised noisy demonstrations in April 1987. Thursday, May 14, 1987 will be along remembered as the blackest day in Fiji’s history. Emeritus Professor Satendra Nandan, now 30 years later, writes his first book giving us a personal account of what this heavy toll of the 1987 coup had taken on the lives of the victims who were a direct target.
Only a writer like Professor Nandan, through his literacy skill and emotional depth could have captured the essence of the tragedy and terror that befell our nation demising democracy, devastating the economy and holistically bringing the face of Fiji to a level of damage which no surgery would restore its shattered image. It was a damage that was beyond recognition. Professor Nandan remembers the morning of May 14th when a group of masked solders entered Parliament and abducted the Prime Minister, Dr Timoci Bavadra, his cabinet ministers and back benches He was then the Minister for Health in the Bavadra Government (a government that was only a month old when it was hit by a military coup, a government that was formed to defeat the Alliance Party which ruled Fiji from 1970 to 1987.).
With guns, cocked on their head, they were forcefully taken out of the parliament to board a truck and with having no knowledge of what was happening, will happen and having no idea of was going to happen, especially with them and the people of the nation. According to Professor Nandan, this nightmare still haunts him and some of the government ministers who were locked for six days and six nights. There abductors did everything to humiliate, traumatise and strip them of their dignities. They were completely cut off from their families and friends, locked up in a cell at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks which was meant for criminals and drunken people.
This is the first book that has been published which tells the inside story of how they were treated. Professor Nandan accounts every single piece of the moment from the formation of the alliance between the two parties NFP and FLP to the formation and win of the coalition. This is the story of immediate aftermath of the coup in his version and it should be read in the context of time, place and feelings.
It’s a story of defenceless people losing their innocence and trust.
This book is for everyone including the younger generation, a bitter remembrance of the historical dark day’s aftermath – the cruelty and the violence the country suffered, especially the Indo-Fijian community and the beginning of the coup culture.
As you read, the book unfolds the mysteries of all the perpetrators and under whose instruction Sitiveni Rabuka staged the two coups in 1987.
The book finally finishes of with Professor Nandan’s first meeting with Sitiveni Rabuka after 20 years. Professor Nandan narrates the full conversation that was exchanged between them. The piece was published in the local newspaper which is also published in this book.
The book is available from USP Bookcentre at $15.00.