Dear Politicians of Fiji,
In my almost 30 years of being a
Fiji-Indian Indo-Fijian Fiji Islander Fijian, I will be voting in the national elections for the first time. So I hope you understand that how important this is for me. I assure you that I am taking my voter responsibility very seriously because it is my understanding that should my vote be counted and you are elected, it will be you who will be looking after me for the next 5 years. You see the next 5 years is quite imperative for me. As they say, it’s a woman’s ‘prime time’. And before casting my vote, I need to be absolutely sure that my interests are best represented because I won’t be getting my ‘prime years’ back should you cock up. Despite the terrible writing in the local newspapers, I try and keep up to date with what you all are doing to get ready for the elections in September. However I don’t see any of you actually worried about my next 5 years and it is of grave concern to me.
Hence I am writing to let you know about the things that you should be working on for me –
For a woman entering her 30’s, I have certain expectations to fulfill. Like get married. And I can only presume they’ll want me to pop out some babies as soon as that happens. However the walls of my vagina involuntarily clamp up as soon as I think about childbirth in our hospitals. I drove a linen project a couple of years ago where we donated linen i.e bedsheets, towels etc. to the 8-bed Nadi Maternity Ward. Having to lie on those blood-splattered mattresses would be like having tarantulas running up my back! But that is only if I’m fortunate enough to lie down. Apparently nurses in our country are making women in labour walk to the delivery room. There is also a possibility of complications when a woman has children late – are you working on any IVF programs for me? As a female in 2014, I should have access to fertility medical care in my own country.
But before I have babies, I’d like to start getting paid proper. By profession, I’m a construction project manager and not just by title. By merit, too. So it’s always bewildering when I get offered almost a 1/3 of what my male counterpart would get offered as a salary package. While the minimum wage imposition is appreciated, I hope you know that there are a lot of graduate females in our country doing the same jobs as men for a lot lesser pay. I would write to the Minister of Women directly about this but she’s too busy worrying about what we should wear.
But if you can’t do anything about my equal pay then at least you could make my job easier – fix your Lands Department. I made a consent application early last year then went on extended leave. I came back to work last month and was asked to follow up on the application that I had made. In my ten months off, I had travelled halfway around the world and back, some 13,000 miles and yet my application file hadn’t made it from the pile stack to the divisional director’s office which is about 20 meters away. My constant pestering and ‘lunch moneys’ has now placed the file on top of the heap but still not in the director’s office yet.
You all keep bringing up the indigenous people. Y’all keep making them sound tribal, naive and gullible. Did you know Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna and Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara went to colleges in Oxford. As in Oxford, England. And several itaukei gentlemen went to colleges in Australia and New Zealand back in the colonial days. Actually do you know the number of itaukei individuals living in Europe today? Stop making itaukei a separate agenda. Currently I’m working on a land dispute where the argument is that the villagers (and this village is in the urban region) are uneducated and therefore could not read the notices published in the local paper. How much longer are we going to keep getting sidetracked with our progress? By the way, colonial days are over. Just because they are white, doesn’t mean they have money. You all have to get on with the memo about the dodgy investors especially with all those digging up in the North.
I am also a traveler. Solo traveler. And while my blue passport is one of my top prized-possessions, it gives me no sense of security when I am away. An European embassy in Istanbul flat out refused to even acknowledge my passport. All the whoop-de-la about American embassies etc.? It’s rightly deserved so. They actually care about their citizens outside their country. I must remind you that not all of us Fijians want to run away. I will always come back home. But I need you to work on yourselves to care. To care that if I’m not back home and I’m stuck at the India-Myanmar border, you will endeavor to do whatever in your powers to bring me back (like Argo). Stop making trade relations with new countries only. Take a duty of care towards your people from them. So I can roam the world carefree knowing that my government has my back.
Do I even need to go into the dollar value of our money?
It pains me to say that Australia has the best seafood. I come from the islands for gods-of-the-islands-sake! But do you even realize the kind of edible shit we pay money for? Just go and stand in the meat section of our local supermarkets on a hot summer afternoon.*gag* This is not negotiable, you’ll just have to come up with a food production strategy. We cannot grow as a nation on modified chicken and corned beef. Is it true that we importing sugar these days??
And stop regurgitating the education issue already! The thousands of Fiji-Indians working around the globe as doctors, nurses, chefs are products of the very same system that you all time and again make a campaign around when elections are near. Brain drain wouldn’t have been a problem if our education system was truly faulty. Adapt it to the current times. And move on. There is so much more you have to do for me. By the way paying for school bus fares doesn’t make children any smarter. Just saying.
I apologize if my letter has taken a slightly patronizing tone but it is so imperative that you understand why is it that I am writing to you. I know you are all busy running around getting ticks to register your parties, painting your buses blue and trying to appeal large taxes that you have to pay and I understand that’s all part of the process but I feel none of you are tuned in with the people living in Fiji. It seems that you all are so busy in the administrations of your parties and your political careers that you have forgotten to check in with your citizens. It looks as if you’ve pulled out your old campaign agendas and dusted them up. I keep hearing the same washed out, tired topics from the yesteryears. Perhaps you all have overlooked that you no longer will be serving a majority population from the remnants of 1987 and 2000.
You see I belong to a generation who gets their news from Twitter, dates inter-racially, is lobbying for sex-same marriages and believes life is to be enjoyed. The women in my generation are tough, owning businesses, contributing equally to the economy by drinking their fair share of wine and beer and by shopping. Some of you don’t even know how to turn on a computer! Frankly your agendas are making you look stupid. If reading so far has left you disconcerted then imagine how you’d feel in the 3rd year of your term in government? You’re dealing with a much smarter and savvier Fijian population than ever. We’re tired of being referred to as a 3rd world developing country. Though, some of you are quite clever and conduct surveys for the whole Pacific on Facebook. On violence against women no less. Please don’t do a survey on facebook again. It’s your own credibility on the line. As a new people, we have a new set of problems. We want to travel more, have professional health care, secure childcare and access to world class beaches where we don’t get chased away because it’s only for the ‘resort guests.’
I am writing to tell you that it’s time you started doing your homework. I know your priorities will be the grass root population and their issues such as land, utility access etc. but where is Shyamni in this election? You cannot ignore me and my generation. We have stuck out your generations’ mistakes and are still here today. If you are standing up in this elections, you better smarten up, open a Twitter account and start strategizing on how to increase the happiness index of Fiji (for it’s people, not Fiji Me’s TV ad audience.)
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I don’t like wishy-washy lines such as ‘together we can make this a stronger country” and all that shit. However my next 5 years are on you and you better start living in the Fiji I do.
Yours truly, whereishyamni.
Disclaimer: All views expressed are my own. Do not copy or publish without prior consent.
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