ETHNIC RELATIONS IN FIJI:
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PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE AND THE RECENT SHIFT
IN THE ETHNIC BALANCE
by Stephanie Sienkiewicz
Stereotypes Distort Reality
- Chapter 5
- Fijians Do Care about Money, But There Are Obstacles in Attaining Wealth
- Fijian "Culture" Can be Oppressive Instead of Something That Fijians Willingly Value
- Indians Respect and Care about Community and Family
- People Embrace Stereotypes, Although Untrue, Because They Lead to a Positive Sense of Self
This chapter will look into the reality of the Fijian living situation and the Indian living situation in Fiji. I will point out how the ethnic stereotypes described in the previous chapter in fact distort reality. The stereotypes depict Fijians as lazy but "cultural" people who do not care about money and, therefore, do not work hard. Accordingly, people believe that Indians are innately hard working, predominantly because they lack "culture" and care only about money. There are, however, alternative views as to why Indians dominate the business "niche" in Fiji. These alternative views became apparent when I interviewed Fijians who were more economically successful than many of their fellow villagers. These people suggested that the reasons Fijians failed to prosper was because they lacked access to good land which had been leased out to Indians for decades. They also suggested that Fijians feared spiritual or social repercussions which acquiring money could bring.
The belief that Indians have no "culture" and are not concerned with interpersonal relations is also a false perception. In fact, Indian culture incorporates rules of respect and loyalty. And, Indians do judge people's actions; they do not disregard all human interaction in favor of making money. The view of Indians as non-community-oriented people stems from their position in contrast to Fijians. Indians do not live in villages and do not emphasize respect for the same figureheads as do Fijians. They nonetheless value personal relationships and are taught to respect parents, for example.
In this chapter I will also contribute to my argument that Fijians enjoy the image of themselves as highly "cultural" people whose main concern is people rather than some arbitrary sign of success like money. This stereotype portrays them as a superior people. This view is more comforting than the alternative construction: that Fijians have allowed themselves to be cheated out of access to most of the good land by accepting long-term leases at long rest, or that Fijians are forced by their fellow villagers to give away money and spend all of their time in social interaction. Similarly, Indians welcome and assert the notion that they are not tied down by a strong culture and rules of respect and that they are concerned with money, because this allows them to accept the importance that the country places on "Fijian culture." Indians can then also see themselves as basically superior for not having that "culture," for advancing beyond the "backwardness" of the Fijians.
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Fijians Do Care about Money, But There Are Obstacles in Attaining Wealth
The Fijians I interviewed routinely expressed the stereotype that Fijians do not care about money and that they care more about their culture and community. I found, however, that many of these same informants actually seemed to care a great deal about making money. Many Fijians told me that they tried to save as much money as they could. And people also listed various reasons that they are not rich, other than just not caring about money. They presented real obstacles to making money.
One Fijian cane farmer explained to me that he and his mataqali wanted their land back from the Indians who were leasing it. Within this explanation, he presented his lack of land as something which prevented him from getting rich. This is an alternative to the notion that Fijians do not become wealthy because they do not care about money. The following excerpt shows that this man clearly cares about money,
We want our land back because it was leased out to Indians 70 or 90 years ago. I wasn't born by that time, I'm only 56 now. That land was leased out by my great grandfather to Indian people. Some of us don't have any land at all. We just have a small piece to plant our cassava, dalo [taro root], and yams. That's for daily living. And a source of income, to plant sugar cane and other crops to sell in the market, we haven't got any left-over land. Because all of our land has been leased out to Indians for a very long time.
I asked this man if he thought that Indians should be allowed to lease land at all. His answer proves that he believes that Fijians could make the same profit out of the land that is now obtained by the Indian tenants. This is an alternative explanation to the stereotype that Fijians don't work hard farming because they don't care about money; Fijians don't farm cane because the best land is leased out.
We gave them the right to lease. If we have enough, we should give them land so they can make a living. [But] right now, the Indians have more of the better land
If we lease the land back to them, it will take another 90 years
[And] Fijians don't want to [make shorter leases either]. In our koro [village] meeting we decided that. We just want the land back.
This man explained too, that because Fijians cannot make much profit from farming the small amount of land apportioned to them under the lease contracts, the younger generations have had to go to the towns to get jobs.
My sons, they are working. We went to a funeral
[and] I told my sons, each of you get $200. I collected $1000 to give to the burial ceremony. That's good. If they are educated, that is enough. They can buy their own houses, where they are staying. They can eat there. If they want to come home when they retire, they can come. Two of them already bought their own houses
There are no other factories around our area except the sugar mill. They can find jobs in the towns.
The family must separate because there are not enough sources of income in the villages. Since the farming land is leased to Indian tenants, there is an inadequate supply of land for Fijians to farm upon and make money. "That's why we are separated, we haven't got any land." He not only wanted his leased land back but he also wanted land that he said belonged to his ancestors and therefore belongs to his family now, Crown land that the government took over during colonial times, to farm and make more money.
We haven't got enough land to share. Us is enough. We haven't got enough land. We begged the government. We still have more land on the government side. A European came and bought it for two shillings from our great grandfathers. It belongs to the government now. We are reapplying again. We have lots of [people in our] mataqali and not enough land
We reapplied to the government. It's up to them
they'll have to [give the land back to us]. It was Crown land before but now they'll reserve it to the Native land. We applied for that land. We have more mataqali and no land. We still need land. That's the main problem.
And again about this same land he said,
We haven't got enough land. Because most of our land was taken by [Indians]. Even my house is half chained to Crown land. At the back of the house is the Crown land. It is owned by the government. But that's our mataqali land, we know that's our land. Because this land, only one of my sons can have. But the rest are on their own. That's why I told them to get a good education.
This man also explained how Fijians could be more prosperous if their land was returned to them, that they could buy tractors and goods to work. The extent to which he has thought this plan out also indicates that he doesn't disregard money; he has determined the reason that he cannot make money and has formulated a plan to change that.
Three of them can share to buy a tractor to work on the land
You can't buy a truck if you lease out the land
We can mortgage it through the bank so that we can buy what we want to use for the land, tractor, [and so on]
We'll have to share. In our mataqali, we've got four brothers. We'll give to every house contract numbers so we can work together, work out that land, so we can get our source of income out of that land.
Another Fijian man's comments about leased land also shows an alternative reason as to why Fijians may make less money than Indians rather than the stereotypical explanation that they do not care about money. This informant is the son of the Fijian man referred to immediately above and therefore is likely to have received his views from his father. This young Fijian cane farmer, the son, did express the common stereotype that Fijians don't care about money in one part of my interview with him. He said, "The plantations are all Indian. Money for them is very important. For us, we don't care much about money." At another point in the interview, however, he indicated that he thinks there is another reason that Fijians are not rich, an idea which is not consistent with the stereotype that Fijians don't care about money. This young man obviously cares about money since he thinks that Fijians should reclaim their mataqali land from Indian tenants. He wants Fijians to gain the kind of wealth which Indians have acquired because of their work on that land. This contradicts the stereotype that Fijians don't want to work hard for money and postulates that Fijians could make more money if they just had the land to farm.
Cane, sugar, is our country's main [source of income]. Especially for us here in the villages, it is our main source of income. The reason we aren't renewing the leases is because we want to farm our own land. They are getting good money from it
They make lots of money farming on our land. And they are paying something [for the lease] which is less to us.
A third Fijian man whom I interviewed also expressed the view that Fijians are not getting rich because of some obstacle in their way, rather than because they aren't concerned with money. He said that Indians are able to accumulate wealth and property because they have the farms that Fijians don't have access to. I asked him if the Indian farmers were developing more because of the money that they are making from growing. He said,
You can see for yourself when you go to the big towns, cities [if Fijians or Indians are making more money], and all [Indians] have, who makes the most. Most of these [villagers] are only planting for their subsistence. Only about two or three, not more than five, have their sugar cane farm. That's our village.
This man also explained that Fijians do not have access to the same education as Indians because of their economic situation.
Time will tell
Once education, all this technology, and people's eyes go open, then a small change is going to come. Mostly Indian people, they invest in their land. From their land, they invest in their children's education. But not like us
Say, for [the Indian neighbor], he's got his sugar cane and so forth, worth plenty of money. He can send his children for further education, secondary schools, university. But unlike us, the source of income is for us to rely on, [for daily living].
This man also proposed that Fijians are not becoming wealthy because they lack some other resource to which Indians have access. He said that he cannot exactly figure out why it is that the Indians are profiting more, but he is sure that Fijians can find this out and overcome the income gap. His belief that Fijians can do this contradicts the notion that Fijians don't care about money and Indians do.
You see all the garages around, and how many are [owned/operated] by Fijians? You don't see any. I've got my car [and it has] an electric problem. And how many Fijians do electrical work? None. I have to get service from an Indian. These are the kinds of things
More training will bridge the gap. More training and more know-how. Let's hope [it will be equal someday]. That's what we are trying for. What we are trying to do is to start off with some small self-generating income project in the village.
I asked if a lack of resources is the problem. "That's the thing we are trying to research. What's the problem?
Even myself, I am trying to find out why."
As we have seen, one alternative to the stereotype that Fijians aren't rich because they do not care about money is that they do not have the resources to make more money, Another alternative to the stereotype, however, is that Fijians do not want to make a lot of money because they are afraid of either spiritual or social consequences of getting rich. In this view, it is Fijian culture which is the obstacle to progress. But instead of willingly embracing social ties over material wealth, individual Fijians are forced to give away money and spend a great deal of time in social interaction because they fear either malicious gossip or attacks by witchcraft. Like the explanation emphasizing material obstacles, this view portrays individual Fijians as victims of their situation instead of viewing them as people who willingly relinquish wealth because they subscribe to a superior value system emphasizing human ties. In the following excerpt a Fijian man first conveyed a stereotypical explanation as to why Fijians are not rich, but then moved onto alternative explanations. He said that Fijians do not have the sources of income that Indians have. He also implied, however, that a person who did not follow the communal rules of Fijians, sharing their wealth, would fall victim to sorcery. A person who disobeyed Fijian cultural rules for sharing money would be cursed to an early death by another member of society.
No, we don't have any money. We Fijians, we hardly keep any money because we always share everything. Sure we want to be rich, but we can't do it. I never ask for money back from people who borrow it. I just ask for money from my sons [for funerals, and so on]. We can't get rich. The only money we get we just want to get our house with, to live in a good house. Some of us can't even build our house because we don't have a source of income
It's our way of living. Some of us with a better education, they want to change our way of living, to stop sharing. But we can't. The only thing will happen to them, they won't live long. One, or two, or three years, they will pass, something must happen to them.
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Fijian "Culture" Can be Oppressive Instead of Something That Fijians Willingly Value
Just as the stereotype that Fijians aren't rich because they don't care about money distorts reality, so the stereotype that Fijians always embrace their "culture" is not entirely true. Fijians see sharing one's wealth as the proper thing to do. And, to financially assist relatives shows a respect for community upon which Fijians pride themselves. If a member of the society goes against this unwritten rule, though, other villagers will disapprove of this action. An angry Fijian might then curse that "stingy" person to death for disrespecting his/her community. In fact, the 56 year-old cane farmer described above considers himself a sick man, no longer strong enough to work in the fields. He suspects that his failing health may be a result of jealousy among his fellow villagers. Thus, Fijians often follow cultural rules not necessarily because that is their ideal lifestyle but because they are afraid of negative consequences of not following those rules. Villagers' scorn towards a person who does not follow the Fijian value system could lead to an unpleasant situation, shame for one's entire family. Fijians experience many social pressures within the village. They may find village life to be oppressive as a result of the many personal responsibilities to the community. The Fijian cultural system restricts personal freedoms; a person must act according to his/her position in society, rather than according to one's own wishes. So while the stereotype reads that Fijians have a very strong sense and appreciation for their "culture," in reality they may often resent their "culture."
A Fijian woman whom I interviewed, and who had moved to the village from a larger town only two years earlier, prided herself on embracing the communal life in a Fijian village. She presented this move as an active choice on her part.
And I really enjoy living in a village over living in town. Living in town, you have to have a job. In a village
we don't pay rent. All we do is pay electricity. That's the disadvantage of living in a town. You have to pay rent and water. And if you are not working, you can't survive by that. Rather than in a village, like us. We have two kids and we still survive with the little business we are doing [selling items out of the home]. In a village, us Fijians, if we are short of salad oil or something, we go next door to get it. You can't do that in town. We really enjoy life in the village. Me, I really enjoy life in the village rather than in town because I was brought up in a town
In the first place, it was a bit difficult for me because I wasn't used to it. Then after a while I got used to it. Then I started to like staying in the village.
Although this woman described her family's transition from town life to the village as a change designed to integrate them into a supportive community, the move was actually necessitated by unemployment. She went on to say, "I told [my husband] that I did not want to come to the village. He said, 'You have to take it.' So we came to the village because we were not working." Although she claimed, according to the stereotype, that she gratefully accepted her life in the village, necessity really forced the decision upon her. In fact, she acknowledged that village life has many restrictions and limits freedom.
I was brought up in town. Like, we'd go out dancing, go out drinking and all. In the village, you can't do those kinds of things. We enjoyed life when we were teenagers. In the village, if you want to drink, you have to go somewhere where no one will see you. Because these days, you've got marriage and religion. When they see married women with children drinking, they don't like it.
So, the stereotype that Fijians actively choose their "culture" in favor of other aspects of life is not completely accurate. Although a Fijian might present his/her culture as a source of pride, this does not indicate that he/she willingly accepts the social regulations which Fijian culture imposes.
Many villagers experience social pressures from their fellow Fijians. A young Fijian woman articulated her impression of village life as restrictive. She explained that in the bigger towns of Fiji, people have more individual freedom. Within the rural villages, however, Fijians are often pressured into "acting Fijian" and their freedom of expression is limited. As she described her friendship with Indian students in her school, she also told me how the other Fijian students would tease her for this interaction. They expected her to "act like a Fijian" rather than an Indian.
I made friends with the Indians and I came to know their culture
And some of the Fijians they really mingled well with them. And some of the Fijians, they saw us with the Indians, ignoring them, and said, "Oh look, she's following the Indians." They would tease us because we had Indian friends and went to an Indian school. "Oh, no wonder she is wearing her hair long."
I wasn't used to the children in the village because their behavior really irritated me. We were brought up in Suva, in a mixed Fijian and Indian neighborhood. I attended an Indian school in Suva, mixed. Then I came [to the village] and found it very difficult. The children, they have jealousy in them. I had long hair. And they used to call me the Fijian translation for "tie your hair." After school I would come home and do my own stuff
The Fijians, they had no understanding. So they used to tease us, call us viavia kai valagi [trying to be like Europeans]. Because it is our hairstyle, our dress. They want us to be like them.
Fijians do not always choose village life over life in the towns of Fiji. Often a move from town to village is necessitated by uncontrollable forces, like unemployment or parental control. Similarly, Fijian culture is not always embraced, contrary to popular notions of a preferential robust Fijian "culture." While Fijians often do pride themselves on their sense of community and respect, they may also feel oppressed by these same requirements. A Fijian village and Fijian "culture" restricts personal freedom.
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Indians Respect and Care about Community and Family
As stereotypes about Fijians in some ways misrepresent their life situation, so the common stereotypes about Indians give a false impression of their lifestyle. The notion that Indians are rich because they have no "culture" and do not care about community distorts reality. On the contrary, Indian culture and religion is very structured with many rules. Indians also have a series of responsibilities toward their community. And contrasting the stereotypical view, respect does play an important part in the lives of Indians in Fiji.
The Hindu religion provides much structure to Indian culture. Religious practices demand devotion from followers. Each Indian home and school is equipped with a temple at which to pray. It is necessary for the inhabitants of these places to worship at these temples at least one time per day. And it is common for an Indian family to reserve a room of its home as a prayer room. Another sign of structure within the religion and, therefore, within the culture, is that Hindu holy books and figures of gods are carefully stored when not in use. They are also well tended, cleaned and offered food. Women must cover their heads in deference to God when they pray as well. This shows that Indians definitely respect their religion and structure their lives around it.
It is obvious that Indians do have "culture" which imposes rules upon them. There are definite gender boundaries according to Hinduism. Certain religious rituals in a home may only be performed by the father, mother and sons of the house. Any daughters living in the house are not allowed to take part in these specific rituals because they "do not belong to the family." Daughters will marry off and belong to another family. They are only temporarily staying with the family into which they were born. For some rituals, all women are barred from participating. After a funeral, for instance, women are not allowed to go with the men to the site of the cremation of the deceased. These rules clearly show structure within Indians' religion.
Another example of structure in the lives of Indians comes from an excerpt of an interview with an Indian businessman. The restrictions he observes defy the notion that Indians have no culture or cultural taboos.
With Indians there are so many denominations. My family and I are Hindus, proper Hindus. We are Brahmin. None in our family eats any meat or takes any alcohol. And you'll be surprised to know that I have never tried kava. And I don't smoke. So we are healthy in our sort of religion. We are not a very educated people. So if you say this is for your health, not many people will do it. If you say that you will go to heaven if you do such and such things, people will do it. If you rise early in the morning you can do one nostril then the other, yoga. It is to make you healthy.
Although he is aware that the rules he follows may in fact have no otherworldly influence, he continues to follow them out of respect for his religion and his culture.
The existence of arranged marriages and the taboo against premarital sex in the Indian population demonstrates both structure of and respect within the community. This Indian businessman described these features,
Maybe 99% of Indian girls don't have premarital sex, only after marriage. On top of that, a lot of these marriages are mainly arranged marriages. The parents have the power to choose what family the husband will be from. Less divorce is possible then. A lot of people they are on their own and they like each other and get married and the next thing they get divorced. That's why, with arranged marriages, right from the beginning, even if they have trouble, they are pushed by both families. There is less chance of divorce because both families worked together to set up their children. Of course the children have the final say. Most agree with their parents' choices. So they agree and everything is worked out
It is a mark of respect to get the parents involved, to get consent. They have more experience. And the other family might not be of very good repute. The family will not allow the match then. These are very general rules.
Arranged marriages require a compliant population. Indians therefore exist in a highly structured culture, contrary to the stereotype.
The notion that Indians have no sense of community is also false. I witnessed the celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, while in Fiji. This holiday clearly demonstrates that Indians embrace the community around them. Furthermore, they embrace anyone who wishes to visit their home at this time of year. In order to hold a Diwali celebration, a family must clean its compound and decorate it nicely; decorations at the house I went to included strung lights, candles and paper streamers. The general format for the occasion is to invite guests to one's home for sweets and to watch fireworks. The hospitality of Indians is well known during Diwali time. Even Fijians walk up and down the streets so that Indian neighbors will call them over and offer them a plate full of sweets. The sharing nature of the Diwali holiday displays that Indians value community.
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Hospitality rules indicate that Indians have concern for their community as well. One informant, a young Indian woman, at first expressed the stereotype that Indians do not care much about culture but later described practices of hospitality that in fact demonstrate that Indians value community. Furthermore, her views show that Indians in fact spend a great deal of money both on festivals and on loans to others. This directly discredits the stereotype that Indian families are able to hoard resources and never give money away because they have no culture, no festivals to spend their money on, for example, and do not value human relations. This young Indian woman expressed the dominant view when she portrayed Indians as more deculturized and Westernized than Fijians. She said that Indians are more influenced by "exposure to different cultures and traditions. Sometimes they think those other cultures are superior to their own." She also said that Indians are often ashamed of their culture while Fijians are proud of theirs. She, however, went on to describe a way of life in which a great deal of money and time were devoted to hospitality and ritual. She said, "If anyone comes, we have to treat them. Even if we are busy, [we will have to stop and visit]." And in other efforts to maintain communal ties, they must attend and bring gifts to weddings. "We have to take gifts [if one of our relatives gets married]. Usually this is the custom we have, to give gifts
it might be clothes, or another item, or we could just give them money." She estimated the cost of these gifts to be approximately $100 to $200 per wedding; and she approximated that the family attends once or twice per month. This represents a large portion of the family's income which is spent on gifts for family members or other members of the community. Her interview represents how people hold stereotypes which really distort reality.
Indians also highly respect their parents and this again disproves the stereotype that Indian culture lacks respect rules. Fijian children told me that their Indian classmates are most offended when other children speak ill of their parents. Indians, according to their culture, are supposed to worship their parents as the living God. A young Indian man described to me how each morning, before leaving the house, he touches his mother's and his father's feet to get their blessing. This blessing brings him luck. He explained that he would also seek his parents' blessing if he faced an important test for which he needed extra help. A young Indian woman also described her respect for others and for her parents specifically,
We all have to respect our elders. This is especially true for our mother and father because even if you don't respect God, you have to respect your mother and father because they are the living God.
And, Indian children must take care of their parents in their old age since parents took care of their children when they were young. One of the Indian businessmen whom I interviewed told me that all of his siblings have emigrated from Fiji. He could not leave the country because he was responsible, as the eldest child, for remaining to care for his aged parents.
The respect which Indians show to their parents and to other members of the community through humanity and sharing, and the structured nature of Indian culture, clearly break down the stereotype that Indians have no "culture." The stereotypes which both Fijians and Indians believe about Indians distort the reality of the situation.
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People Embrace Stereotypes, Although Untrue, Because They Lead to a Positive Sense of Self
It is significant that stereotypes about Indians and about Fijians are dominant even though there are alternative ways of seeing these situations. It is not true that Fijians don't care about money just as it is a false notion that they instead care only about community and eternally and willingly embrace their "culture." Likewise, the stereotype that Indians lack "culture" and care only about money, not about community, contradicts the reality of their life situation. Yet, as the previous chapter has shown, these stereotypes are almost universal. Fijians express the idea that they are very "cultural" and that they don't care about money. Indians have told me that they don't have to respect others. They must therefore, accept these stereotypes about themselves for a reason other than truth value. One possible reason is that both groups enjoy the self images which these beliefs give them. The implications of these stereotypes endow each of the two ethnic groups with a positive perception of their respective communities.
Fijians say that they actively choose their culture and its tightly-woven community and do not care about money. They accept these characteristics because they insinuate that Fijians care very much about people. When Fijians believe the stereotype about themselves, they accept their community as one full of love and human kindness. This means they can see themselves as a superior kind of people to those who care only for money and disregard the importance of people in this world. Most importantly, this justifies their position both as Britain saw it and as it exists in the country today. The national role of the Fijian population is to preserve their "culture" because it is something very valuable.
One Fijian woman expressed pride in her Fijian culture when she described that her husband does not charge as much for his carpentry services as his work merits. She said that he does this according to the Fijian ethic of sharing and cooperating and because that is the Fijian way. "Because we Fijians are very generous like that." She said that her husband doesn't work solely to receive money. Since he receives less than what he "should" get, he is really doing favors for other community members. His work shows, therefore, that he values social relationships more than money. This woman told me that I need to remember, whenever I hear that people have received money for what they've made or done, that the price should always have been higher because Fijians care more about people than money. "Always remember, when a Fijian person says, 'I bought this from one Fijian,' this is the veivuke vaka itaukei (helping each other according to the Fijian way)." The price should always be much more. This same woman also said, about the Fijian custom of sharing resources,
A person who doesn't see his or her relatives, is not a Fijian. I have to see everything you need, I have to do something to fulfill you, to help you. Because if I don't help you, when I am in need, you won't help me. It's like kerekere, solesole. Kere you ask for, sole you give. That's just how we live.
Another Fijian woman told me that her Fijian ethics prevent her from asking for money for the sewing work she does.
Some people they just come and ask for it. If they don't want to pay, that's fine. Cause we are in the same village and all; we are all related. Fijians are like that. They won't ask money directly of that person. If they just can give it to us, it's up to them whether they want to pay it or not.
Fijian cultural pride is also evident in the following quote from a Fijian man. "With Fijian people, it doesn't matter if they are poor, they love each other. You eat what I eat. We haven't got any money but we love each other. But the main thing is we share together, we believe in that." Fijians share a positive sense of self because of their emphasis on sharing with and caring about their fellow Fijians.
Just as Fijians adopt the stereotypes about them because they make them feel good about themselves, so do Indians accept the stereotype that they have no "culture" because they feel that it justifies their position in the nation. When they see themselves as lacking "culture," they are able to think of Fijians as "backward" for their "culture." Indians can view themselves as superior to the Fijian population therefore for not remaining entrenched in an outdated and restrictive system. Indians view their supposed lack of "culture" as something which frees them to develop and economically advance in Fiji. In addition, they embrace the stereotypes and their subsequent "niche" in the country, as they allow them to accept a national celebration of Fijian culture and the entrenchment of it in the political system. Indians can see themselves as superior for not having a "culture" like Fijians.
One Indian man explained his opinion that Fijians are too enmeshed in their cultural system and that Indians are more advanced for not having this "backward" culture. He likened Indians to Europeans to emphasize their development. When I asked this man if he would send money to relatives back in Fiji if he moved away, he said, "If you've got the money then you can support. But there are hardly any Indians supporting each other. Just like Europeans." Another Indian man told me, "The best part is Indians are on their own feet. They don't expect anyone to help them and nobody helps them. And they are self-motivated. They stand on their own feet. They earn their own living." Indians accept the stereotypes about them because they give them a positive self-image, that they are a modern and developed people.
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This chapter has shown that ethnic stereotypes in Fiji often distort reality, but that they remain intact because they promote a positive self image for each of the ethnic groups involved. In the next chapter, I will illustrate how the acceptance of these stereotypes coincides with the notion that different communal groups have different roles in society. When different ethnic groups fill different roles in society, they are allowed and assumed to have different destinies. The next chapter will examine the ways in which the Fijian community and the Indian community have accepted a model wherein different communal groups should have different roles and therefore different fortunes in society. One may see how this coincides with the British model of a plural society which was introduced during colonialism. It is this model has allowed for the ethnic balance which has been achieved in Fiji.
On to Chapter 6...
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