Fiji Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna Day

Fiji Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna Day

Last Monday of May
The people of Fiji honor one of the nation's most prominent leaders, Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, on the Monday nearest his death anniversary (May 30). Sukuna (1888–1958) was a decorated hero in World War I before he became a politician. Over the course of holding various government posts, he helped prepare Fiji for independence from Great Britain. The island nation gained independence in 1970, 12 years after his death.
For many Fijians, memories of the 2000 anniversary are marred by cataclysmic events that took place around the time of the observance. George Speight led a military takeover that briefly removed President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and stirred up animosity between native Fijians and Indian residents.
In 2005, the prime minister led an effort to reclaim the holiday's positive connotations by highlighting Sukuna's harmonious economic plan, which protected the land rights of native Fijians but still left room for foreign investment. Adopting a theme of "Unity in Diversity," the celebration included a church service commemorating Ratu Sukuna's life and an exhibition at Fiji Museum devoted to the statesman. Festivities extended for a week and culminated with a final ceremony on the May 30th anniversary.
CONTACTS:
Ministry of Fijian Affairs, Culture & Heritage
P.O. Box 2100
Government Buildings
Suva, Fiji
www.culture.gov.fj
Embassy of the Republic of the Fiji Islands
2000 M St. N.W., Ste. 710
Washington, DC 20036
202-466-8320; fax: 202-466-8325
www.fijiembassydc.com
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 91
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