History of FijiFiji History
<font color=#38B0DE>-="247213">Vitian History
Fiji's over 35 century of pre-colonial history is a rich mixture of influence from Polynesia, Melanesia and to a smaller degree Micronesia, which came and either went or remained. Fiji's natives named their home Viti. Around the year 1000 AD, Tongan incursions had begun, which lasted occasionally until the Europeans arrived.
Finally, the Europeans knew the island as Fiji. History tells us that Captain Cook asked the Tongans what the western isles were called. Feegee', the Tongan accent of Viti, he heard: so'Fiji' came from an Englishman who was hearing the wrong accent of a Tongan! During long and prolonged peaceful phases, Fiji underwent intensive societal upheavals at the beginning of the nineteenth centuries, when it was first settled in Europe, and these frequent fights between tribes make Europeans believe that it was in a permanent state of belligerence.
Aim of Europeans sailing the Pacific in the seventeenth and eighteenth century was to find terra Australianis In Cognita, the great "unknown south country " that was later named Australia. Several of them came across Fiji on the way. Tasman was the first ever in Europe to pass Fiji in 1643, and his description of malicious coral corridors kept seafarers away for the next 130 years.
For a long time the Tongan people had been trading colorful pencils, blankets and guns with the East Fijiis. The Tongan conquered the market by receiving sand-wood from the chieftains of Bau Bay on Vanua Levu and then sold it to the Europeans. But when Oliver Slater - a surviving Argo shipwreck - found the place of care, he told the world about his fate and in 1805 the Europeans began to deal directly with the Fijians and exchanged metallic utensils, tobaccos, cloth, muskets and gunpowders.
Chieftains who sent their village people to work increased their own riches and powers, and it is believed that 5000 rockets were trafficked during this time. Until 1829 the Bau chieftainship had gained great authority in Viti Levu in the east, where trading with the Europeans was most intensive. Cakobau, known to aliens as Tui Viti (King of Fiji), was at the peak of his heyday in 1850, although he had no true claims on most Fiji islands.
In 1854 he became a serious menace to Cakobau's powers. At the end of the 1850' the Tongans were the dominant forces in the East of Fiji. The progress was sluggish until the chieftains began to turn back. Christendom was acceptable because of its resemblance to the established belief in taboo (sacred prohibitions) and qigong (spiritual power), and most Fijians adopted it alongside their conventional religiousness.
The commander Charles Wilkes conducted a US mission to Fiji in 1840, which drew up the first fairly comprehensive map of the Fiji Isles. He made Cakobau (as the nominee king of Fiji) accountable for the acts of his nation and sent him a considerable compensation bill. Cacobau came under growing strain, and in 1862 he suggested to the British embassy that the island be ceded to Queen Victoria against repayment of his debt.
But the rumors led to a large flow of colonists to Levuka, arguing and disputing with the Fijians about possession. Cakobau' s enormous debts were not paid until 1868, when Australian Polynesian society declared itself willing to settle them in return for property. In Fiji, the global lack of quality wool triggered by the American Civil War led to a growth in the production of blackbirds, which was an indirect stimulus to the blackbirds - the labourers.
The Europeans took other Pacific island dwellers to work on the Fiji plantation of fidji wool (and coppra and sugar). The majority were island inhabitants of the South West Pacific Isles, especially the Solomon Isles and the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu). Later chieftains were corrupted and men and wives were exchanged for shells. The Imperial Kidnapping Act was adopted in 1872, but it was little more than a mere act, as Britain had no authority to do so.
During the following years, the land was plagued by epidemics: an eruption of Measles eradicated about a third of Fiji's people. However, until 1873 Britain was interested in attacking Fiji, arguing that the need to eliminate the blackbird was a valid excuse. Because of Cakobau's previous bid, Fiji was declared a royal settlement in Levuka on 10 October 1874.
Fiji would probably become easier, cheaper and more peaceful to govern, so the Colonies were protecting Fiji's lands by banning the sale of property to aliens. It has successfully granted the tribal peoples property ownership and 83% of the country is still in the hands of tribal people.
Another effort to uphold good relationships with their people was made by the Colonies to ban the use of Fijian tribal people as workers on plantations. The Fijians were becoming more and more hesitant to take full-time work for salaries and preferred to take advantage of conventional subistence work, which fulfilled their rural commitments and was less regulated. Plantations such as cottons, coppra and canes had the power to make Fiji's economies self-sufficient, but required large amounts of low-cost labor.
The year 1878 saw talks with the Colonies of India so that the workers could come to Fiji, after which the workers or girmitiya could freely go back to India, although free transit for the journey back was only possible under certain circumstances. You arrived in Fiji at a speed of about 2000 per year.
Approximately 80% of the working people were Hindus, 14% Muslims, the rest mainly Sikhs and Christians. In spite of the distress, the overwhelming majority of the Girmitiya chose to remain in Fiji after they had fulfilled their agreement and many had taken their Indian family with them to join them. There were 60,537 workers in Fiji at that inception.
Fiji's collective rule disheartened the interactions between Indians and Fijians. The Indians, who were excluded from the purchase of Fiji property, instead relocated to small businesses or concluded long-term lease agreements as autonomous peasants. Standing on the side of the Fijians, Europeans distracted people' s awareness from their own property monopolies and their own powers and public sector clout.
We were comfortable attributing all the troubles to the Hindu fellowship and aggravating concerns that the Hindu people would outnumber the Fijian Indians. There was little participation in World War I: about 700 of the Fijians and about 100 Fijians were sent to Europe.
About 8000 Fijiis were enlisted in the Fiji Military Force (FMF) and from 1942 to 1943 were fighting against the Japanese in the Solomon Islands. There was a move towards Fiji's self-government in the 1960', and after 96 years of Fiji's collonial rule, Fiji became an autonomous state on 10 October 1970. The haste to become self-sufficient has not solved important issues such as property and rent and the protection of the interests of a nation with racial divisions.
Fiji's first post-independence vote was won by the Fiji Indians' Alliance Party (FAP). Most of Fiji's business and transportation activities were (and are) run by Indian Fijias. The Indo-Fijians were portrayed as possessed by making a living, although the overwhelming minority, like the Fijians, were among the poorest working class and - unlike the Fijians - would never safeguard lands on their lease agreements.
FAP was seen as a failure of the Fijians in their hope of advancing economically. A larger unit among the working class resulted in the creation of the Fiji Labour Party (FLP) and in April 1987 an FLP administration in co-alition with the National Federation Party (NFP) was chosen. Although there was an Indian Fiji Premier, Timoci Bavadra, and a Fiji tribal parliamentary body, the new administration was described as "Indian dominated", as the vast majority of its deputies were Indo-Fijians.
Taukei extremism toyed with Fijians' fear of the loss of their lands and Indo-Fiji's leadership, both politically and economically. In an unbloody putsch on 14 May 1987, just one months after the election, Lieutenant Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka succeeded the chosen administration and established an intermediate civilian administration backed by the Grand Council of Chiefs.
Fiji was abolished, Fiji was designated a country of sovereignty and Rabuka proclamated himself chief of state. In the following months Fiji was released from the Commonwealth of Nations. In fact, the putsches, which were to serve all Fijians, created enormous hardships and benefitted only an elitist group. As Indo-Fijians were actually withdrawn from the policy making processes, tension within the Fiji Indians' communities was revealed.
This includes conflict between chieftains from East and West Fiji, between high chieftains and villagers, between townspeople and the countryside, and within the ecclesiastical and labor movements. This has considerably strengthened the great council of chieftains and the army's leadership and at the same time weakened the Indo-Fijians' governmental clout.
When the 1992 election drew near, the Grand Council of Chiefs dissolved the multi-cultural FAP and founded Soqosoqo-ni-Vakavulewa-ni Taukei (SVT; Party of Political Decision-Makers for Tribal Fijians) in its place. He demanded a re-establishment of multi-ethnic democracies and, while he accepted that the President's stance was reserved for an Indian Fijian, he suggested that the PM should not be given ethnic affiliation.
That same year Rabuka apologized to Queen Elizabeth for the 1987 coup d'état, presented her with a rolling-toothed taboo as a sign of reparation, and the following months Fiji was returned to the Commonwealth. A lot of Fijians were anything but satisfied. Persuaded that their prerogatives were at risk, the protest grew and many declined to renegotiate 99-year lease agreements with Indian Fiji peasants that were about to expire.
The unsuccessful business man George Speight quickly became the face of the putsch and claimed to stand in for the Fijian people. Eventually, President Ratu Mara involuntarily declared that he would take Chaudhry off government to end the war. Speight's group also called for Mara's retirement, and as the outlaw increased and the land was split over its part, Ratu Mara gave up control.
Travelers were warned to stay away from Fiji. The Appellate Tribunal in March 2001 held that the 1997 Constitutional Treaty should be upheld and that Fiji should be put to the vote in order to re-establish it. Fijian People's Party (SLD) leader Lasenia Qarase won 32 of 71 legislative positions in the August 2001 poll.
That is the isle where the plundering of the U.S. Consul's home in 1849 served as an impulse for Fiji's assignment to Britain; one of the main elements of the assignment was the arrival of the first contract workers whose offspring made Speight sufficiently angry to trigger the 2000 putsch.