Kava Reintegration of Fiji Inmates

Posted by on Sep 22, 2008 in Kava News | 0 comments

Kava Reintegration of Fiji InmatesAloha!

I was reading the Fiji Times this morning and came across an interesting article on the Archbishop of the Catholic Church of Fiji who conducted a kava ceremony in a prison, as part of reintegrating prisoners back into society. In the article, Archbishop Petero Mataca reminded inmates of “the importance of educating themselves more about their traditional protocols.

Archbishop Mataca visited the Naboro Maximum Security Prison and addressed men convicted for murder, rape and violent robberies, stressing the need to touch base with traditional protocols and customs. He addressed some 40 inmates during a traditional kava ceremony hosted at the maximum security prison’s Exercise Yard during his recent visit.

Inmates from the maximum, medium and pre-released factions joined together to host a traditional kava presentation to welcome Archbishop Mataca’s visit, and they also performed the meke Raude (a traditional Fijian fan dance).

Archbishop Mataca, accompanied by other Catholic priests, took the opportunity to address the inmates, most of whom were Catholics. He told inmates of the different customs that exist in Fiji and the importance for inmates to know their cultural background and learn from it. He emphasized the importance for inmates to go back and educate themselves about their village traditions and customs.

“E tiko nai tovo vaka vanua,” (we have our culture and traditions) he said.

During the traditional presentation of the tabua (whale’s tooth), prison department officials mentioned the yellow ribbon concept and acknowledged the need for acceptance, as well the importance of giving a second chance to ex-convicts.

Inmates performed the meke in their traditional Fijian grass-like skirts and fans, while another group chanted an old traditional meke song to the tempo of a lali (traditional drum like instrument).

Inmates were also given an opportunity to talk individually to the Archbishop after the ceremony. Prison Commissioner Ioane Naivalurua and other senior prison officers were present. Inmates interviewed inside the maximum said there was change with the new administration, and they supported the commissioner despite some slow-down in getting better facilities.

Archbishop went on to visit inmates at the medium security wing and had a brief conversation with CRW convict Shane Stevens, also a catholic. The two spoke for at least a minute before the group headed back to Suva. The tour ended at the Women Prisons in Suva where the group were treated to lunch catered by women inmates.

Commissioner Ioane Naivalurua said inmates did not fall from the planet Mars into his court yard. He said they were sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers that belonged to families.

“The successful reintegration of offenders is the best security for society,” he said.”

I found this approach to the rehabilitation of inmates to be very inspiring and illuminating. I feel it perfectly demonstrates the impact kava has had in peaceful negotiations dating back thousands of years. I also found it interesting that the men convicts participated in a kava ceremony with the Archbishop, while the women inmates prepared a meal for him. That speaks volumes on the status of women in Fijian society.

Aloha no,

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *