Pacific portraits; Matua of Fiji
Radio sketches of men and women whose lives illustrate times and places south of the equator in the Pacific. With. A series of visits by radio station
the University of Wisconsin under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Now speaking to you from Auckland New Zealand. Here is the planner and writer of the series Professor John Reed. The Pacific that charted the blind SEO and the Darwin system is no longer the romantic notion of novelists imagining modern communications have annihilated South Sea distances and sprung once remote islands on the thread of progress. The second world war highlighted the vital strategic importance of the Pacific to the Western world. The mounting pressure of what Europeans once called the Far East but that we down under now know as the Near North has drawn the Pacific peoples close together and has made them look to to their great north eastern neighbor the United States for understanding and friendship. But problems
remain. Let us see what a typical modern Pacific community is like. Take Fiji for example crossroads of the Pacific through which the plains of six nations pass between America and Australia. Let us take a typical We will call him up to him as our guide to the history and culture of his time. My name is Mike. I'm a full blooded Phaedra son of chiefs and of the daughters of Chiefs. I am a Christian educated at a Methodist school and I now myself teach teach ins at a government school. But before I tell you more about myself you should hear something of my land. The home of my fathers here is my old teacher Dr. Summers to describe it. E.g. it's a great archipelago of small volcanic islands in a rain with an open southern arc in the mid Southwest Pacific between
some 250 and 300 are habitable but the two largest hold three sevenths of the population. Yes that is well enough but what is Fiji like. Its land and its peoples. Oh I see where it has the heaviest capital concentration of people in the Pacific save for a way the cheap racial groupings are the jinns and Indians who make up over 93 percent of the population figures again but figures do not live as men live. Perhaps you had better let me try. Viti Levu where I live has in the West. Beautiful red hills wooded with groves of ironwood aromatic ferns broad smooth and rugged mountains. Americans have told me that save for the palms. This part of Fiji might be Wyoming. I was born in the interior near a dense tropical forest where the rain
clouds weep ceaselessly as they lurch against the tall mountains. Yet from the jungle the rains coax forth exquisite flowers and trees and in the loom Rich Fields our crops grow like right by Jack's beanstalk days are always warm and the landscape all is green. Fiji is a timeless land. One of my grandfathers A to Noah was a chief of the inland forest the land of power and his memory was a long one. He used to tell me of the old days as his grandfather had told him the distant days were the days of the great gods gods who were born gods and gods who had been men the mightiest was then gave the great snake origin of us all or lived in a cave high in the mountains. Another powerful god was the one the shot God Lord of all the fish.
In trembling we saw his long light behind our canoes at night in his honor. We did not eat the shark and they were great warriors in the distant days. Man dared not sleep at night unless their spears lay close at hand. Fires were put out as the fire of the sun died. He who coughed had first to scratch a hole in the earth to muffle his face lest he betray the village to a lurking enemy. Days and nights were filled with war and the ground drank the blood like a thirsty man. Warriors made war until all the men on one side were slain. They hear people guarded their forts with traps full of sharpened bamboo sticks. When the forts were stormed stones and spears grew thick. All of the defenders would be slain men women and children
and there would be a great feast on the bodies of the dead. That was before the white man came prepared to allure the trees flourishing on the blood of the slain. The clearings a patchwork of blackened ruins that was Fiji yet there were white men who could teach my people lessons in savagery. You know of that period Dr. Somers one of the blackest pages in Pacific history and a magnet to the exploiters was sandal wood discovered early in the nineteenth century for nearly twenty years ship after the ship came to strip the hills of the prized wood that captains are lending it in war to any tribe who had cut sandal wood trees for them. Chiefs grew powerful helped by white men's muskets and the sandal wood chips left behind their terrible legacy of depraved beachcombers greedy black breeders and deserving criminals. £500 reward for the capture of Charles Savage a Swede
deserted and murder a parasitic advisor to a bloodthirsty Cheez Savage has shot hundreds of agents for sport sponsor of cannibal feasts. This daughter of native women and terrorist leader of the deserving scum of trading ships. Savage so outraged are people that in 1813 he was seized by a trick and held by six men under water until he drowned. But we had learned to hate the whites who so feared us that when we wanted to trade with us they would take a chief hostage. The change came when when the few Tongans men from the islands to the South who had embraced Christianity came in the 1840s to conquer us. Our grandfathers fought them. I was a boy when King George to Bosworth from Tonga laid hands on Fiji. Our ways of war were powerless against these cunning fighters who never fought against greater numbers and those frontal charges made us
afraid. I didn't dare wore last under pretense of protecting the white man's religion. They were ruthless. One by a rolling stone. I let my did it one night as Tongans raided it and clubbed 70 to death because one of their canoes had been burned. It was that the great king of Baal who brought peace he knew that only a strong outside force could unite Fiji. He offered the islands to Britain the United States and Germany refused them. Nobody wanted Fiji rich in gud sugar copra the were where lands of blood but finally in 1874 Queen Victoria accepted my country and it became a Crown Colony sheltered now and in the shadow of the British throne. From that time thanks to British rule and the zeal of devoted missionaries the most savage of Pacific races has become one of the
most docile the bloody Isles knelt to the medicine of peace under a fatherly administration that kindly and gave temperament of the P.G. and triumphed over their warlike side. Such were the ways of my people. And now it becomes my story. But first Dr. Summers How does the white man see us today. The natives BGN is a Melanesian negroid of the racial strain come by oh no no no no how. How do you see us. All very well. Tall with a superb because he can open countenance long frizzy hair worn in a mop dark skinned negroid of Peter's and wearing with pride the suit or NPD skirt beneath a European jacket that he has strong qualities of restraint my ass modesty compels me to interrupt you sir so that I may talk of myself. I was born in a village not far from Suva one of a hundred persons in
sixteen sleeping houses. Like all the other tribes we worked in fields growing Torode tapioca and young goanna from young going to comes to drink which is still used in ceremonies. And we grew bananas bread fruit and pop was and cared for the coconuts we fished with lines Spears and traps. And when we could find a ball we played soccer. A very free and noisy soccer I'm afraid our house was the finest in the village. Strong as a tree with three doors and stout pools which defied the hurricanes. The floor was covered with beautiful mats and I slept in a bed under a mosquito net. But when I was nine I left this fine house behind that my father took me to Suva Hall my home for 30 years so that capital of Fiji clean and stately with its canal its taxes and its busy seaport. I was head teacher at the Methodist School for Boys. One
month too it came and I knew at once that he would be a fine scholar. I shall always remember my first sight of Suva. I have since been to bigger cities. But to me super will remain what New York is to an American and London to an Englishman. I had never before seen anything like the huge supermarket colorful with stalls offering food trinkets and tobacco under bright Wallace canopies from Suva. I learned all the British West Pacific Islands are governed by the New Hebrides the Solomons the Gilberts even lonely Pitcairn. I would often stop to gaze at the beautiful government buildings surrounded by green lawns flowers and giant palms. And sometimes too I would gaze at Quatre sights.
My father had often told me about the fire walkers once a religious era firewalking had now become a kind of a side show. But it was still an amazing sight. I saw a huge pit of stones glowing white as milk with the heat from heaped wood fires. Then three feet barefooted stepped on the glowing stones with slow and stately tread looking neither to left nor right. I expected to smelled burning flesh. And was astounded when it came to the end. Smiling and unharmed. It all remains a mystery to me as it does to the whiteman. It is the majority of the souls at these men that protects them from the spirits of the fire. And the souls of their ancestors hold them up in the teachers training college at Suva run by the New Zealand government. Give me enough to think about without trying to
prove the secret of firewalking here I learnt not only the elements of teaching but much too about our own country and its problems especially about the Indians the dark men who spoke a strange language and were everywhere in Suva in stores in banks and offices on the streets in the schools. The Indians first came to Fiji in the seventies when British companies needed labor to harvest sugar cane. Thousands of underprivileged Hindus and Muslims grown by the promise of food security and Fijian citizenship thronged to the islands. Fiji was a paradise to them. They worked like beavers and they sweated and saved living in filthy shacks but out piecing the natives in industry and initiative and how have they fared in Fiji. They marry young and have enormous families. In 1890 there were seventy five hundred Indians to one hundred six thousand Fijian to day. The hundred and forty nine
thousand Indians outnumber the hundred and thirty six thousand feet gens from 5 percent to over 50 percent. Bit by bit they are acquiring property possessions political power. I must be frank. I find it hard to like the Indians. Some of you are my friends but to my eyes most are whining hating people who look to themselves and avoid English in feedin ways. Taking all they can and giving nothing back. Moment please. May I put the Indian point of view. Well I'm right right. My name is Dorothy Indian 30 years old. I own my own store in Suva. I am a native born citizen of Fiji as my father was before me. Say your piece. Us. I can understand that you a Fijian resent our presence but please think what we have done here. While Fiji Islands are content to weed their gardens and
gather their food and will not finish a white man's job if they can go on walkabout. We Indians have built Fiji by our labor or we have done all of the mean your work. No one else would swept the streets slaved in hospitals run the shops mined gold harvest in sugar made the best and cheapest clothes in the Pacific. We have worked. We have made things grow. But but this is my country dancing. Excuse me. It is my country too. My grandfather was an indentured worker for the colonial sugar company. At the end of his term he could have gone back to India but he preferred to become a Fijian citizen and he died in the fields. A land belongs to those who work for it but need you crowd to feed humans out of their ancestral home but we do not. It is true that we are just better than you due to a capitalist economy. We have the drive the market mindedness they know how. Would you deny us
the fruits of our labor. No. But is that the point. We. We resent your arrogance. The British are pledged to hold our lands in trust and protect our ownership. Since since your Indian nation became free you appealed to it as a homeland. Do you call yourselves pigeons what it taught you and you and you were ruthless in pressing Indian claims in politics and in business here. It is natural that you should see it so. Yet we are here. Your economy depends on us by our industry we have developed Fiji. There is no solution to let us live. There is no solution in 30 years time. We feed unions at the present rate of increase will be the subordinate minority in an Indian dominated Fiji. Here in my own home is the greatest racial problem of the Pacific. And it was made no easier by the rising tide of the Second World War. To thousands of Americans and New Zealanders Silva became a second home.
But what impressed me most here was the few gins own country abuse into the war. Almost 10 percent of the population enlisted a staggering figure for an undeveloped community. At the end of 1943 there were sixty six hundred Fijian in uniform and only two hundred sixty four Indians. One hundred fifty eight of these being the labor corps with our white friends. We drove the Japs from the islands in ripping jungles through bloody mangrove swamps along burning beaches. We showed that they the warrior spirit still flamed in us we protected our home. But when I came back to Fiji I found much change over 20000 Americans had lived there and many thousands of others had passed through. Our economy had been dislocated but the Americans had built a great airbase at Nandi and had planted large buildings which we now use as hospitals and training colleges. As I went back to school I noted the the legacy
of war more drunkeness than before. Women who had forgotten the modesty of their race. Some villages used to have only only occasional contact with white men. The soldiers had removed. They had a touch of rarity. Nowadays there is less outward show of respect to white men. But what more real friendship. I was a commando with my two up. I had grown up in a little valley in value a label from the white soldiers. I learned not only to play cards drink card and girth but much of other Western ways. In the long Solomons nights I learnt that white men had feelings like mine and that in some ways in some things I was better. The most precious gifts of the war were a new a new self-respect in my people. A greater sense of visual unity and a further breaking down of tribal sentiment that is cruel. The bad effects of the war have a vapid aerated and the good ones remain. More
education and the slow erosion of old customs have helped to make the Fijians dissatisfied with administration by hereditary chiefs of a Democratic of for many years working in them. Fiji is throwing away its swaddling clothes in less than three quarters of a century. My people have progressed from from cannibalism to Democratic Christian peace. But there are still problems. The Indians for instance and also the FI gens the Fijians year you are I believe the kindliest gentlest people on earth. You are good Christians brave soldiers some students. You are a credit to your British rulers. Well then you still prefer the communal village life which economic pressure is making obsolete and your people find it hard to work consistently. They do not see that to raise their level of living. They must stick to
a job. I need labor in my cane for you while you work for me. Why I have my own gardens to work in. Markt I will give you money. Why should I want money to buy things with of course. What do I need to buy. I get food from the fields and trees from the rivers and they see my clothes and maps I make myself. If I work for you I cannot sing when I want to walk in the forest when I want to drink young goanna when I want to. No white man keep your job. That is true in a sense. But you will agree that it is changing slowly. Yes but all the people learn quickly nobody can change racial temperament overnight. If the pigeons are to survive against Indian competition they must work hard and long and put on the garment of new ways. Fiji thrives on gold or sugar bananas but it still receives financial
help from Britain. Their Fijian must help himself and so I tell my pupils and I believe they understand sir. They see that this is the hope of the future in such things as the South Pacific commission. Please please Mr Mr Teacher please what is the South Pacific commission. Is it a new government for teaching. My point in 1047 the six governments who rule in the Pacific agreed to put their interests and pool their technical resources. But he was a visitor to one of the commission agencies to tell you thank you thank you much you are. I am an American entomologist employed by the commission and my headquarters are in the mayo. Oh the commission doesn't interfere in the internal affairs of any country. It's what you call an advisory body. Job is to spread the latest knowledge and advice and the research and anything that will help the welfare of Pacific
peoples all for things like good nutrition and crop improvement in Pest reduction fisheries cooperatives or things like that. And what is your job. Well I mean me personally you know of a rhinoceros beetle rule only too well. It is one of PJ's greatest pets Yes it is. Well it's my job to find other pests and viruses that will prey on this beetle on the rhinoceros beetle and at the same time leave crops on hard and already we've had some success with a rhinoceros beetle is hearty No. Yes and it can survive long journeys through water clinging to the holes of the ship's. Very hard. We've done much to stamp it out of by by showing people how to clean up the breeding grounds near the sea ports by sea and what are the other commission agents. What are they doing. Well various things are improving the diet and feeding habits of adults and children.
They're combating mosquitoes which bring malaria. They're showing workers how to increase corporate yield. They're developing improved methods of fishing for some of the older grounds are worked out now they institute cooperatives in silver they maintain a health service which locates outbreaks of infectious diseases on the islands and helps prevent their spread. I heard I heard much about these things in April 1956 in April where was that. Well I was an observer at the third Chocolate City conference. When Islanders from all over the southern ocean met near Suva to discuss their common problems here from all over the great waters where men and women who are not not the greatly romantic figures of advertisement but a teacher from Tonga a doctor from the USA a magistrate from Western Samoa a co-operatives officer from the Cook Islands a clergyman doctor nurse or social
worker. Times have changed much. Yes I descendant of cannibal Chiefs was chairman of the conferences Economic Committee the Hon. Ratu compiler I am Mara a Fijian graduate of Oxford University and District Commissioner and the chairman of the Social and Health Committee was Prince to Bhutto to meet the prime minister of Tonga law graduate of Sydney University. Yes and not very many generations back. The commissioners and the sisters were saying you're a white feller gibbet black feller and I needs this black feller give it that paid. Yes times and language have changed indeed. And what of your own part in it all. I have three sons not one of these. When he leaves school will go to train as I did as a teacher. Another wants to go to Central Medical School to become an island's medical practitioner. The third
will work the land and work it well in them. I see the future the future of Fiji a future dedicated not only to our own progress but to that of all the Pacific peoples. We have our mountains to climb yet. But with God's help in the reign of peace we shall reach the summits. I'm.
And here is Professor read this a few closing words. The geography of the Pacific with tremendous tract of water separating small islands and the diversity of races in Creston cultures mean the lands of the South and the ocean can never be a corporate entity. But the will to work together. The urge to struggle for the common good. Our forces which create a sane national geographical and cultural differences. There is still very grave problems to solve because the gap between white man and brown man is wide and administratively far from well. Every Pacific I get as the ideal office ific fellowship slowly gains more concreteness men like our imaginary are everywhere stepping forward to join hands with the white man and to lead their brothers towards a new door.
- Pacific portraits
- Matua of Fiji
- Producing Organization
- University of Wisconsin
- WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program examines problems of racial clashes and relationships in Fiji.
- Other Description
- This series explores various aspects of the Pacific region through dramatization, narration, commentary and music.
- Broadcast Date
- Social Issues
- Fiji--Social conditions
- Media type
Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Production Manager: Schmidt, Karl
Writer: Reid, J. C. (John Cowie), 1916-1972
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 58-41-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Pacific portraits; Matua of Fiji,” 1965-06-02, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 12, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-h98zdz4n.
- MLA: “Pacific portraits; Matua of Fiji.” 1965-06-02. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 12, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-h98zdz4n>.
- APA: Pacific portraits; Matua of Fiji. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-h98zdz4n