Fijian Shadows. Living through the coup of 2000.
Fiji, despite its image of calm blue waters, white sandy beaches, clear sunny skies, palm trees softly swaying in the breeze and gentle people with happy smiles, has a turbulent history.
It lives with a constant struggle to build a modern, unique, multicultural society from its traditional tribal origins and the influences of colonialism, a struggle that periodically erupts in violence, tearing families and communities apart and devastating the economy.
This memoir offers a unique insight into what it is like to be a stranger, newly arrived in Fiji, not having time to become attuned to the culture, not knowing the language and not understanding the way the locals think – and to have a coup erupt around you.
Valerie introduces us to a Fiji of curfews, roadblocks, heavily armed soldiers patrolling the streets, lawless armed rebels intimidating the population, the seat of government taken over and turned into a rebel village, democratically elected members of parliament held hostage, shortages of power, food, and communication and curtailment of human rights. Amid all this Valerie is confronted by her own ‘whiteness’ and its meaning in Fiji, but is ultimately sustained by friendship, caring and hope.
Valerie has spent a third of her life in the UK, a third in New Zealand and a third in Australia, with sojourns in Belize and Fiji, and brief work assignments in South Africa and Malaysia. She has degrees in Sociology, Education and Medical Sociology.
Working mainly in the tertiary sector of education but also in high school, adult literacy and social work in the mental health sector, Valerie has drawn on her diverse experience to publish in the areas of women’s health, feminist pedagogy, and Global Citizenship Education.
In retirement she has taken several intensive online courses in writing through Oxford University. She published her memoir of her experiences in Fiji at the end of 2021 and is now researching and writing a novel set in the Marlborough Sounds in NZ in the 1980s.
APM Publishing Services
ISBN 978 0 646 84982 9