Thursday, 4 October 2012 6:09 PM
A line on the Sand
It is unfortunate that post the royal visit, all we seem to talk about is the Cook Island 'royal attire insult' and the even more insulting cartoon that followed.
There is quite a lot of finger pointing and a lot of anger towards those individuals involved. Lets face it, this was not a mistake, it was a premeditated move and has been planed in advance. What we saw was a successfully executed plan with the desired outcome for those opportunists and an embarrassment for our government and our proud people. It exposed a flaw in our security system (if you call it that). Whist, this was terrible, the outcome could have been worse. What if the intended outcome was to cause harm to the parties involved? That is the question - and we need to have a mature debated about it. Lets face it, this was a massive embarrassment for us, it showed that we are not capable of ensuring the safety of our royal guests and it has future implications. There is really nothing we can do about it now but to learn from such mistakes and never let it happen again. Our problem is that we do tend to trust people to do the right thing by us - in this case we were let down miserably. The irony though is that we have ourselves to blame.
The cartoon is really the icing on the cake, a mockery of our government and people. Most of our people are very conservative and have both their feet rooted deeply in our custom (our Melanesian way of life - our discourse). The reason this issue is polarising our nation is that although we come from different language groups and Islands, one thing that is absolute is our respect for our women. There is but one surest way to get a man angry in our custom and that is to insult his mother or sisters. In the old days the ramifications for such are nearly always dire... (man bae faelem axe). Nowadays, it is settled through compensation or a heart felt and sincere apology.
We, Solomon Islanders are a proud people - respectful people, we live in a liberal democracy and we respect the rights of others to express themselves (freedom of speech). However, we also know that freedom of speech is not absolute, it comes with responsibilities. In this case the line has been well and truly crossed. Disrespecting our mothers and sisters is not acceptable in our culture - it never was, not now and never will be - this is our discourse - our freedom of speech - it is our sovereign Solomon Islands.
Whilst we are not going to burn any flags or match in our streets any time soon - we demand an apology, if that is not too much to ask our islander friends.
On this note, I'd like to pay my respects to our mothers and sisters, our forefathers, our elders and our leaders for whom together they represent the past, present and future of our people and the aspirations of our nation.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Andy Kerazama and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.