Colonial era elections viewed as a threat to established authority: Ratuva

May 27, 2023 4:30 pm

In a recent lecture on Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, Political Sociologist Professor Steven Ratuva shed light on the perceived threat of elections, which empowered individuals to challenge the authority of colonial states.

The lecture delved into the historical context of Fiji, emphasizing the influence of dominion thinking during Ratu Sukuna’s time and the obstacles he faced as a leader appointed by the British amidst societal evolution.

Dominion thinking, prevalent during Ratu Sukuna’s era, aimed to safeguard the rights of colonized peoples, particularly those of non-white complexion, while simultaneously promoting societal progress.

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This ideology involved the establishment of protective institutions that facilitated gradual change.

However, Professor Ratuva highlighted that the British Colonial State, driven by the desire to maintain control, often restricted the political and electoral rights of the colonized to preserve their authority.

“Anti-colonial movements were not only anti-British, were also anti-chiefs because the chiefs were seen by them they were referred to as the co-operate door class, they’re cooperating with the British and so if you collaborate with the British, you’re also our enemies so Ranawai and other early anti-colonial leaders had that view and so Ratu Sukuna found himself in a I suppose challenging situation.”

Although Ratu Sukuna may have initially viewed elections as potentially disruptive, Professor Ratuva suggested that his evolutionary thinking, coupled with the changing global landscape, would likely have led him to eventually endorse the right to vote.

Professor Ratuva emphasized that Ratu Sukuna understood the legitimate concerns raised by the colonized regarding the transfer of power from traditional chiefs to the colonial state.
By exploring the historical complexities surrounding colonial-era elections and the challenges faced by leaders like Ratu Sukuna, this lecture provided valuable insights into the evolving perspectives on democracy and governance.

The discourse reminded attendees of the significance of embracing democratic principles while acknowledging the intricate dynamics of power in the context of colonization.