Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Too much talking - Fijian Chiefly Title Disputes

Letter to Fiji Times Editor by: Morgan Tuimalealiifano Suva

IT is clear from NLC chairman Ratu Viliame Tagivetauas response (FT 12/10) that his unit is frustrated and is clearly unable to cope with the vast number of yavusa and mataqali title disputes.

His almost pathetic response on the Buli Raviravi title dispute (FT 13/10) is made all the more interesting given the fact that he himself, of noble rank, hails from Bua, and holds the extremely influential position of chair of the Native Lands and Fisheries Commission, as well is wielding influence in the Bua Provincial Council.

In the eyes of many indigenous Fijians, senior NLTB officers like Ratu Viliame are like God because they hold the key over life and death and because they have access to the machinery deciding yavusa and mataqali titles disputes.

For non-Fijians, these issues should be of interest because such titles control rights to vast resource areas such as land, forest, and sea.

The Buli Raviravi title according to the son of the deceased claimant, Jale Cavu, has been under dispute for 20 years. That is almost half a lifetime.

Ratu Viliames defence against the complaints from the distraught family is to talk it over.

Twenty years of talking has resulted in the death of an elderly man and a few in hospitals.

How many more years of talking are required?

Surely, the State, and particularly NLFC, has a role to play when families in the nature of things are struggling within themselves to find an amicable way forward.

Another family has been talking for 20 years.

The Tui Kaba, clan of Bau, has been talking about a successor to the Vunivalu na Tui Kaba title since 1989 and look at what has been coming out of Tailevu since 2000?

How much longer must those talks be expected to continue before another tragedy strikes innocent family members?

The same question could be stated 3764 times.

Pride is one thing.

But the message from the Nabouwalu incident is point blank clear families are crying for and need help, urgently?

Not for more foreign tax payers money or more human rights or another election.

When 3766 yavusa and mataqali families are hurting and stressed from inside out, what does that mean for beloved Fiji?

Cry, for the beloved country, then wipe those tears, and do something on this vital indigenous issue, (including lawyers, economists and accountants).

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