Bainimarama greets Fijians worldwide on 50th Independence Day

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Venkat Raman

Venkat Raman

Auckland, October 10, 2020

Several days of events to mark a major milestone

 Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama with the Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor unveiling the new Commemorative Notes and Coins in Suva on October 8, 2020 (Fiji Government Photo)

The Republic of Fiji turns 50 today and despite challenges, the small island-country in the South Pacific can be proud of its achievements and its global leadership on Climate Change and many other environmental and other issues.

Festivities are being held throughout Fiji and other parts of the world where the Fijian Diaspora is present- notably, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, Europe, Canada and United States of America – countries that acknowledge the contributions of thousands of Fijians as businessperson, entrepreneurs, academics and professionals.

In Wellington, a week-long Exhibition and speeches were held to mark the event.

Several organisations have planned to conduct programmes today and during the ensuing week.

On behalf of Indian Newslink, we offer our salutations to the people of Fiji and dedicate our services to a great Nation, as we have done since our establishment on November 15, 1999. We wish the country continued prosperity and hope that the slogan, ‘Fiji, the way the world should be’ will be reinstated.

 

Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama with the staff at the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs in Suva on October 8, 2020 to mark 50th Anniversary of Independence (Fiji Government Photo)

The ‘Hand-Over Fiji Ceremony’

Prince Charles, who was invited to attend a special event to commemorate the event in Suva today, was constrained to cancel his visit because of Covid-19.

It was Prince Charles who handed over the ‘Independence Documents’ to the first Prime Minister Sir Kamisese Mara on this day on October 10, 1970 at Albert Park.

Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama recalled the ceremony, saying that ‘watching the Union Jack lowered and hoisting the Dominion of the Fiji Flag was one of the most important events in his life as citizen and as a member of the Fijian Defence Force.

“I remember the pride of watching our Fijian flag hoisted for the first time. It felt as if the world had been placed at our feet, and that anything was possible for all of us. That great national happiness was tempered only by a newfound sense of responsibility,” he said.

As part of the celebrations today, the Fijian Military Forces will hold a parade at Albert Park, on the very spot where Prince Charles had handed over the Instruments of Independence.

Following is the Full Speech of Mr Bainimarama:

Bula Vinaka to our Fijian family around the world.

While we hoped that many of you could be with us to celebrate our Nation’s 50th Birthday together, Covid-19 has sadly had other plans. I know that many of you, maybe most of you, are watching this message from home.

Wherever you are, we hope that you and your families are holding up okay. You should know: Even oceans away from Fiji, this is still your day to celebrate all that makes you proud to be Fijian.

Containing Covid-19 in Fiji

I am grateful that our people at home are safe from Covid-19. We acted quickly to shut our border, we tested fast and early, and we have had no new cases among the public for more than 160 days.

Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of our heroes at our border and in our hospitals, we can mark our independence in true Fijian fashion.

We will be sharing love with family and friends, pitching flags, planting trees, even unveiling a few new monuments.

Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama with the Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor unveiling the new Commemorative Notes and Coins in Suva on October 8, 2020 (Fiji Government Photo)

 To top it off, our Republic of Fiji Military Forces will proudly parade in Suva’s Albert Park; the very spot that Queen Victoria’s great-great-great grandson, Prince Charles, handed over our Instruments of Independence 50 years ago to the day.

I remember the pride of watching our Fijian flag hoisted for the first time. It felt as if the world had been placed at our feet, and that anything was possible for all of us. That great national happiness was tempered only by a newfound sense of responsibility.

Triumph and tragedy

In that moment, we alone sat at the helm of our destiny. We knew any success we found would be truly be ours to celebrate. All the same, should we ever fall short, we know those failings would be ours to bear.

In the half-century which has followed, Fijians have found our footing through triumph and tragedy alike. We have matured as a nation.

Every challenge that we have overcome has made us stronger, more capable, and more caring.

We have closed the door on dark times and divisions in our society.

Today, we are a true democracy, with common and equal citizenry shared among all Fijians.

Throughout the great story of the independent Fiji, one truth has proved more precious than any other. That is that our greatest moments are those in which we, as one people, united in the pursuit of something larger than ourselves.

Those achievements do not belong to only one group or to only one part of the country, they belong to every Fijian.

Together, we have set a pace of national development unmatched in the Pacific, developing the cities of Suva and Lautoka, and extending life-changing services across our islands.

We have harnessed nature to power our people’s lives. We have built strong institutions which uphold our citizens’ vast array of rights under the Fijian Constitution.

Fiji, the Regional hub

Together, we have transformed a small colonial economy into the region’s hub of aviation, trade, telecommunications, and finance. We have built a world-class tourism industry, along with roads, airports, and networks of telecommunications that serve as our bridges to each other and to the rest of the world.

Women are rising in our society, taking their rightful place among men and boys in schools, in parliament, in the civil service, in sporting arenas, and in board rooms.

Together, we have earned a sporting reputation that rivals far larger countries.

Scoring upset victory after upset victory, against competitors bigger in everything but spirit, even on the world’s grandest stage and we have the Gold to prove it.

Weathering natural disasters

Together, we have weathered storms, like Cyclone Winston, and built back better and stronger.

We have served as champions for peace in the world’s most conflict-ridden regions.

We have led the world in protecting our oceans and acting on climate change; preserving the beauty of our beaches, our forests, and our islands for all those Fijians yet to come.

None of this has happened by chance or circumstance. It has happened because together, we, the Fijian people, made it happen.

Our choices. Our courage. Our commitment and our camaraderie have built the Fiji we know and love today.

Smoothest transition

On that bright morning in Suva on the October 10, 1970, it was reported that ‘that nowhere in the world has independence come to a nation more smoothly, more peacefully, more joyously’.

We can say today: despite our challenges, nowhere in the world has a small nation done such big things for itself and for the world. Our history is one of a resilient people, a people strengthened and unshaken by great challenge. And, as a united people, our best days lie ahead.

This Fiji day, Our FIJI-50 day, I hope that you can tune in from abroad to take join our celebrations.

We may be apart today, but trust that the pain of this pandemic will one day end.

We will see each other again. We will celebrate together. Until then, stay safe; your family in Fiji is thinking of you and wishing you the best.

Commemorative Notes and Coins

Nevertheless, the Pacific island Nation will mark the occasion with celebratory $50 note, and commemorative 50 cent coins will be given to all children in schools, from Year 1 to year 13, the government has announced.

The above Report has been sponsored by

 

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