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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

3rd Melanesian Arts Festival Opening draws huge crowd in Suva

The official opening ceremony of the 3rd Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture, which showcased a diversity of melanesian traditional costumes and culture, has attracted a large crowd at the Post Fiji Stadium in Suva last night. The traditional Fijian canoe that was specially designed for the welcome ceremony

The official opening ceremony featured the leading welcome speech by the President of Fiji, His Excellency Ratu Josefa Iloilo, speech from the head of the six participating delegations, presentation of gifts from participating delegations, mass choirs, and a preview of cultural items and costumes that the participating delegations are expected to put on during the next few days during the festival.

Above pics: The Solomon delegation to the 3rd Melanesian Arts Festival being welcomed [click on pics to enlarge]

Melanesian delegations were first paraded through the athletics path in the Post Fiji Stadium before being welcomed on the stage, in a way as if they just arrived from the Fijian traditional canoe, and made their way down the stage onto the grounds. It was an eye opening experience for many people especially tourists and international students who have never seen the real beauty of melanesian cultural diversity.

Above pics: The PNG delegation dressed in their traditional costumes being welcomed [click on pics to enlarge]

The Solomon Islands speech and gift was presented by Mr Henry Isa to the Government of Fiji. A Solomon Islands student at the University of the South Pacific, Ms Constance Wane, was the one who was decorated in the Langa langa shell money costume to hand over the Solomon gift of a "Tafuliae" shell money which was made by the Langa langa women who are also part of the Solomon delegation to showcase shell money making skills.

Above pics: The New Caledonia delegation making their way down the stage after being welcomed [click on pics to enlarge]

According to the Fiji President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, it was vital that the festival attracted young people's interest, especially with cultures enveloped by the phenomenon of globalisation and change.

"Although our cultures may differ slightly in some aspects, however, it is obvious today that events such as these preserve, protect and promote our culture, traditions and values. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to make the tranquilising drug of gradualism or malua fever' as it is known in Fijian. Now is the time to express yourselves as indigenous people to exchange and share your ideas, to respect and promote your cultures, traditions and values", Ratu Iloilo said.

Above pics: The Vanuatu delegation after being welcomed from the traditional canoe [click pics to enlarge]

In other developments, two dancers one from a Papua New Guinea dance group and the other from the Vanuatu dance group were rushed to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital at separate times after they collapsed during their performances. Hospital sources said they were being kept for observation to ascertain the cause of their collapse.

Above pics: The Torres Strait Islands delegation making up the sixth participating delegation [click on pics to enlarge]

Meanwhile, the festival venues are now open to the public free of charge as of this morning and will continue until next week. Today will also see the dancers from Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu putting on cultural performances after lunch at the Sukuna Park. Solomon Islands and Fiji are expected to take the stage tomorrow.

The Fijian delegation after being welcomed from the traditional canoe [click on pics to enlarge]

Pictures were taken by Johnmark Maefiti, USP, Fiji.

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