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A Time Bomb Lies Buried

A Time Bomb Lies Buried: Fiji's Road to Independence, 1960-1970

Brij V. Lal
Volume: 1
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    A Time Bomb Lies Buried
    Book Description:

    A Time Bomb Lies Buried discusses the debates which took place in Suva and London as well as the politics and processes which led Fiji to independence in 1970 after 96 years of colonial rule. It provides an essential background to understanding the crises and convulsions which have haunted Fiji ever since in its search for a constitutional settlement for its multiethnic population.

    eISBN: 978-1-921313-61-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgment
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. About the Author
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    In his Christmas message to the people of Fiji, Governor Sir Kenneth Maddocks described 1961 as a year of ‘peaceful progress’.¹ The memory of industrial disturbance and a brief period of rioting and looting in Suva in 1959 was fading rapidly.² The nascent trade union movement, multi-ethnic in character, which had precipitated the strike, was beginning to fracture along racial lines. The leading Fijian chiefs, stunned by the unexpectedly unruly behaviour of their people, warned them against associating with people of other races, emphasising the importance of loyalty to the Crown and respect for law and order.³ The strike in...

  6. 2. Paramountcy, Parity, Privilege
    (pp. 9-24)

    An archipelago of some 300 islands lying on the border between the cultural regions of Melanesia and Polynesia, Fiji was settled about 3,000 years ago by a seafaring people travelling eastwards from the Southeast Asian region.¹ The population was made up of a number of rival, semi-autonomous tribal chiefdoms embroiled in incessant struggle for political supremacy. The problem of power struggle was compounded by the arrival of European traders, beachcombers, missionaries and fortune seekers from the beginning of the nineteenth century. They took sides among the rival aspirants, acquired land through dubious means, built up plantations, engaged in trading (in...

  7. 3. Amery and the Aftermath
    (pp. 25-48)

    Sir Kenneth Maddocks replaced Garvey in 1958 and remained governor until 1964. Maddocks was different from Garvey in temperament and experience. Born in 1909, he had joined the colonial service in 1929 after graduating from Wadham College, Oxford, and served in Nigeria before coming to Fiji. Unhappily for him, his tenure in Fiji was punctuated by long periods of illness. While he did not have Garvey’s sure touch, his familiarity with the Pacific or his wide-ranging friendships across Fiji, Maddocks’ Nigerian career provided relevant experience in one important respect. In Northern Nigeria, he had been involved intimately in the process...

  8. 4. The 1965 Constitutional Conference
    (pp. 49-66)

    The stand-off between Sir Derek Jakeway and A. D. Patel took place during a familiarisation visit to Fiji by parliamentary undersecretary of state, Eirene White, in what was now a Labour government in Britain. Her task was to report back on issues that might be raised at the forthcoming constitutional conference. She heard a wide range of opinion: from Muslims about separate representation, from Fijians about their special interests — including political leadership of the country — from the ever mercurial Apisai Tora about deporting Indo-Fijians as Ceylon and Burma had done, from the Council of Chiefs reiterating the terms of the...

  9. 5. Towards Independence
    (pp. 67-82)

    The 1968 by-elections changed the political dynamics in Fiji, with London acknowledging that ‘the circumstances in Fiji are against us’.¹ For their part, the Fijian leaders realised that they could not expect to drag their feet over constitutional reform and continue to expect sympathetic understanding and support either from London or from younger Fijians who favoured a quicker move to full internal self-government, even independence. In the past, London had feared Fijian insurrection if changes it introduced did not meet their approval; now it was anxious that Patel’s successors — ‘people of a different calibre’ — might resort to strongarm tactics, or...

  10. Afterword
    (pp. 83-90)

    The 1970 independence constitution, whose formulation had so exercised the minds of officials in London and Suva during the previous decade, was tested on several occasions and lasted 17 years. It was overthrown in the military coup of 1987. Its overthrow was not a surprise, for the assumptions and understandings that underpinned the constitution, and the political culture of racial compartmentalisation which it had spawned, had been shaken rudely by the social and economic changes sweeping Fiji in the decades after independence.¹

    The first post-independence elections took place in 1972. The Alliance Party, under Ratu Mara’s leadership, won easily, capturing...

  11. Appendix 1. Policy in Fiji (Nov. 1960)
    (pp. 91-94)
    Julian Amery
  12. Appendix 2. Fiji Final Dispatch (8 Oct. 1970)
    (pp. 95-106)
    Robert Foster