Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna | A man with foresight

Ratu Sir Josefa Lalabalavu Vanayaliyali Sukuna KCMG KBE was a Fijian chief, scholar, soldier, and statesman. Picture: SUPPLIED

Statesman, soldier and academic. Of all the accolades, one that has stood the test of time was Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna’s foresight that the Indian indentured labourers would become indelibly entrenched into Fijian society and there was a need to ensure this was done as peacefully and as inclusively as possible.

In a lecture titled “Ratu Sukuna’s Three-Legged Stool Concept — Its Value for the 21st Century”, academic and former permanent secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office Joji Kotobalavu articulated Ratu Sukuna’s visionary leadership and how he ensured Indian labourers who opted to remain in Fiji were given access to land and how he personally travelled the 14 provinces to consult the iTaukei chiefs about the benefits of leasing their land.

Mr Kotobalavu tells of how Ratu Sukuna convened a special Great Council of Chiefs meeting to seek its support for a proposal for legislation to reform the management of native land.

“The purpose of the reform was to facilitate the leasing of native land, surplus to the needs of the landowning mataqali, to all citizens of Fiji who needed land for their livelihood,” he said.

“All would benefit from this: the landowners, the tenants and Fiji as a whole in its economic progress and social stability.”

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