On Friday 9 October 2020, the eve of its 50 years of Independence, the Fijian community had a traditional kava ceremony at 356 Macquarie Foodstore Cafe, where the LM Anna Reynolds was present. She lowered the Fiji flag and popped the champagne bottle to congratulate the Fijian community and wish them well.

On Saturday 10 Oct 2020, the actual date when Fiji gained its independence, the Fijian community had two celebrations to commemorate this auspicious day. A lunch was held at the Uniting Church in Glenorchy and a dinner at Taj Palace Restaurant.

Councillor Mike Dutta was the guest speaker at the dinner event. He reminded the guests of Saturday 10 October 1874 when Fiji was ceded to Great Britain and Fiji became a Crown colony for 96 years. On 10 October 1970, a young Prince Charles handed over the Instruments of Independence to the first Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara in a national ceremony at Albert Park in Suva, on October 10, at 10:00am, 1970. This was a defining moment in the country’s history.

So many people recalled watching the Union Jack lowered on October 10, 1970, and the Dominion of Fiji flag hoisted on the day. It was a moment of pride for the people of a small island nation to watch our Fijian flag hoisted for the first time. This is the day that FIJI GAINED ITS POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE.

It was a collective feeling of great national happiness that was tempered by a newfound sense of responsibility. During the last 50 years or the half-century which has followed, we as Fijians have found our footing through triumph, tragedy and a number of coups but we have come through stronger and hopefully wiser. We have matured as a nation. We have been resilient and stood the test of times.

As we look forward to the next 50 years, it is my hope that Fiji will promote cultural, religious, racial diversity, plus a diversity of ideas that harnesses the aspirations of a more inclusive society. It is our collective hope that in the next 50 years, Fiji will be able to celebrate the freedom from poverty for all its citizens.

Councillor Mike Dutta Life Member of the Fiji Australia Association

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