Tuesday April 25, 12:49 pm
Getting to know Fiji and its Inhabitants
Fiji is a compilation of about three hundred islands in the Southeastern Pacific Ocean with about 800,000 inhabitants. The two largest islands are called Viti Levu and Venua Levu. On the first island there are three major cities; the capital Suva which has a large natural seaport and an airport. Lautoka which also has a large natural seaport and Nadi which has a smaller seaport excavated especially for tourism purposes and the International Airport.
All the islands are verdant with beautiful beaches and mountains from which race large rivers and rushing waterfalls. The tropical, warm, climate and abundant rains are factors which make the land, here, fertile and productive. The mountains are covered with forests and cultivated fields of sugar cane, bananas, papaya, mangoes and other trees and exotic multicoloured flowers.
The cities are interconnected by roads laid with asphalt, as well as small trains. These trains are chiefly for the transportation of sugar cane to Lautoka where there is a large processing plant which produces the wonderful dark and healthful sugar. The smaller islands are linked to the larger ones by small airplanes and boats.
The beautiful beaches with their warm ocean waters, the peacefulness of the place and the welcoming disposition of the inhabitants invite many visitors from diverse places most especially from Australia and from New Zealand. The languages which are taught and spoken officially are Fijian and English.
The inhabitants of Fiji are simple and good hearted, peaceful and always smiling. They have great similarity with the inhabitants of African Tanzania which according to their own tradition is the land of their origin; however, they are less dark skinned than them and their hair is a little longer. The Indians of Fiji comprise about half of the island's population and they were brought to Fiji by the British who controlled the islands in those days for the cultivation of sugar cane. They share the same coloration as the Fijians but have longer hair. Generally speaking, the Fijians are happy and lovable people who are especially pleased whenever someone greets them in their language with the word: “Bula!” which means hello.
The native Fijians handle the Government and the military and the Fijians of Indian descent handle industry and trade. They get along well with each other; they speak the same languages, have mixed marriages, even though each race observes some unique customs and traditions. At the International Airport a visitor's first impression is of a group of Fijians dressed in their traditional Garb something akin to the Greek foustanella, playing different instruments, singing in their own musical tradition, while festooned with a flower behind one ear.
In this way they welcome those from foreign lands. They are frugal without many demands in their lives. Instead of bread they use roots of various shrubs which they usually include in their meals greens and vegetables, tomatoes, eggplant and beans which they themselves cultivate.
They also eat fish, chicken, eggs and fruit. They walk about barefoot or with light sandals (flip flops) because of the heat and they live carefree lives.In the character and the disposition of the Fijians one can discern a certain simplicity, naturality and purity.
† Archbishop of New Zealand Amfilochios