Reforming GCC for resilience and inclusivity

May 25, 2023 12:51 pm

Shot from the GCC meeting.

In a lecture discussing the legacy of Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, Fijian academic Professor Steven Ratuva emphasized the need for the Great Council of Chiefs to undergo significant reforms.

He argued that the GCC, which has seen little evolution over the years, must not be influenced by political parties or politicians with ulterior motives.

Professor Ratuva proposed that this week’s meeting presents a prime opportunity to incorporate ideas gathered from the public, including the inclusion of other ethnic groups.

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Professor Steven Ratuva.

He emphasized that the GCC should prioritize addressing issues that impact all Fijians.

Regarding criticism directed at Ratu Sukuna, who is revered as an influential leader, Professor Ratuva disputed the notion that he perpetuated communalistic thinking and ethnonationalism among indigenous Fijians.

 Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna. 

He explained that Ratu Sukuna’s intentions were not meant to exclude other ethnic groups but rather to uplift the iTaukei community.

“Issues of poverty, issues of well-being, health, and education These are things that the people live with all the time, and of course, how can the GCC become a reconciliation body in the country in terms of ethnic conflict? It has been criticized for participating in coups in the past, and how can the GCC become independent and maintain its mana as a body above politics, which will address issues of reconciliation and peace-building not only within the iTaukei community but as a country generally?”

Ethno-nationalism, according to Professor Ratuva, refers to the competition between different ethnic groups for power, but in Ratu Sukuna’s case, it was likely a misinterpretation due to the prevailing racial tensions and ethnic lens of that time.

Professor Ratuva concluded by speculating that Ratu Sukuna would have undoubtedly experienced such challenges during his era.

He underscored the importance of considering historical context when analyzing Ratu Sukuna’s ideas and actions.

Meanwhile, the GCC review team affirmed that the GCC will remain apolitical.