Mr Kelepi Umata Abariga, a fourth generation Solomon Island descendant in Fiji has conveyed the best wishes of his fellow Solomon Island relatives whose forefathers were forcibly taken from their respective villages during the Colonial Blackbirding Era by the British in the 1800s’.
‘It is with great pleasure and honor as origins of the Solomon Islands, that I convey the best wishes of fellow Solomon Islands descendants who now live in Fiji and other parts of the world in wishing our Nation of the Solomon Islands a Blessed 42nd Independence, and that we will forever remain proud of our ancestral roots and heritage despite the circumstances that our generations have had to endure”.
Mr Abariga’s great-grandfather, only known as Umata, was among the many fellow Solomon Islanders that were coerced by the British and taken to work in Queensland, Australia and Fiji.
However, Mr Abariga and his family together with other Solomon Island blackbirding diasporas in Fiji have for the past many years continued to establish and maintain contacts with relatives in the Solomon Islands.
In the 1980’s, most SI students studying at the University of the South Pacific would make regular visits to the main settlement in Wailoku and that is where the reconnection between families in Fiji and the Solomon Islands began.
“ A few of our relatives have since then returned and settled in the Solomon Islands and have also remarried back to our people’’.
His Great-grandfather Umata after being involved in the clearing of thick bushland and mangroves on the site where Suva City stands, was then part of a group that help construct what is now the Kings Road on the Central Eastern part of Fiji. He then married Sainimere Likuselala of Naqeledamu Village in the Province of Tailevu and after his death, was buried in the village with his traditional priest or Bete. Their only Son, Aminiasi Abariga then married Emele Momoci of Nauciwai Village in the Province of Kadavu and Mr Abariga’s Dad, Mr Jale Umata then married Elenoa Dicovi Cerelala of Nabouono Vilage in the Province of Macuata.
During Mr Abariga’s engagement as an Information Officer with the Ministry of Information in Fiji for many years beginning from 1987, he has also had the opportunity to visit his homeland with the most recent in 2010 when he was part of the Fiji delegation to the MSG Peacekeeping Conference in Honiara.
Mr Abariga added that it was during that visit that he was able to connect with his Brother Maxwell Saelea and Sister Dorothy Wickham.
Mr Abariga also expressed his appreciation to members of the Suva Association of Anglican Women (AAW) from Fiji that had visited our country of origin in January, 2020 and the privilege of visiting their Province of Malaita was a God given opportunity for all of them to re-connect with our relatives.
“May I also take this time to say Vinaka Tumas to all our relatives in the Solomon Islands and especially to our Premier, Hon.Daniel Suidani for kindly facilitating the visit to our Malaita Provincial Head Quarter in Auki, and that your availing yourself to embrace the presence of our beloved Mothers and Sisters and your fellow Wantoks, was truly a blessing and an encouragement to us all as origins of Malaita”.
Mr Abariga in further wishing his origins of the Solomon Islands is also praying in earnest that the current Government will finally pass the Bill for the issuance of Dual Citizenship as this will great contribute to the further enhancement of our ancestral links between the Solomon Islands and their Blackbirding descendants in Fiji, Australia and other parts of the world”.
“ I want to be the first amongst all of our Kaisolo Descendants in Fiji to acquire a Dual Citizenship, and that will indeed be memorable in honor of the struggles and sufferings that our forefathers had to endure and the appreciation by the current generation in embracing our return”.