Fiji's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama last week visited Wailoku settlement outside Suva and paid tribute to those Fijians with Solomon Islands ancestry.More than 200 villagers including those from Waitebala,Koio and Vataleka village and those from other settlements in the central division converged at Marata village at Wailoku today to celebrate the Solomon Islands' 34th Independence Day celebrations.
In welcoming the Prime Minister, Marata village spokesman Josateki Gusuivalu said that the presence of the head of government was indeed a blessing adding that the theme of 'Unshackling the Chains of the Past" was a reflection of the struggles of their ancestors and the desire by the present population to move forward despite the challenging past that their ancestors had endured more than 150 years ago.
Prime Minister Bainimarama said that his government vision was to ensure that all Fijians were treated equally despite their ethnic or religious background.
"I acknowledge the tireless efforts of your forefathers and their contribution to the nation and my government will endeavor to facilitate further in your development", Prime Minister Bainimarama said.
Various issues of concern was raised with the Prime Minister including expiring land leases, improvements to the school playground, and opportunities for higher education.
Also present was the Commissioner Central Laisenia Bale Tuitubou, the Ministry of i-Taukei Affairs permanent secretary Mr Savenaca Kaunisela, the i-Taukei Land Trust Board General Manager Mr Alipate Qetaki and other government officials.
Majority of those Fijians with Solomon Island ancestry were descendants of the first blackbirding era in the South Pacific which saw Solomon Islanders recruited to work in plantations in various countries in the region including Fiji and Australia.
Today Solomon Island descendants still live in settlements around the country with a few such as Namara in Nasinu and Navutu in Lautoka.
Plans are also in place to have a national celebration next year at Suva's Albert Park with a three day festival aimed at encouraging all Solomon Island descendants an opportunity to meet one another and enhance their Melanesian network.