Kamisese Mara

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Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara (May 6, 1920 - April 18, 2004), Founding father and Long-time Prime Minister and President of Fiji.

Sourced[edit]

  • "Above all there is our fixed joint determination to build a strong and united Fiji, rich in diversity and pampered with tolerance, goodwill and understanding." (Attributed to Mara by his successor as President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, 10 October 2005).
    • Independence Day address, 10 October 1970
  • How could I stand by and watch my house on fire? (This quote, and the one following, were part of his defence for joining Sitiveni Rabuka's military government in 1987).
  • It is with obedience to your call that I take up the burden of government leadership for the final time.
  • Here was an action that touched on raw and sensitive nerves in a community that had already undergone the trauma of two military takeovers. There was an undoubted threat to public order, welfare and freedom. I suspect the psychological pressure associated with that crisis caused the first mental blackout I had ever suffered. It contributed to a deterioration in my health that later required the insertion of a heart pacemaker.
    • (Concerning public demonstrations and roadblocks led by Methodist ministers, calling for a ban on Sunday sport and commerce).
  • When you (President Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau) called me at Lomaloma in December 1987 and asked me to form an Interim Government to prepare the country for a return to parliamentary rule, I knew the task at hand would be onerous. Fiji had experienced the ordeal of two military coups. Society was fractured, the economy was tottering and the country had been ostracised by some of its oldest friends and allies. There was no Parliament and no properly functioning political system. Even institutions of State, such as the judiciary, were seriously weakened, to the extent that the citizenry justifiably feared a breakdown in law and order. The business community was hit by a slump in sales and confidence, leading to reduced earnings and loss of jobs.
    • (On the eve of final his departure from the Prime Ministerial office). (Report to President Ganilau, 15 May 1992)


  • (On his Catholic faith): "Certainly it has been the rock on which I have always been able to rely in good times and in bad, and it is the lodestone of my life."
    • The Pacific Way: A Memoir (1996)
  • (On his proposal to overcome the ethnically polarized election results with a National Unity government in 1982, which the Opposition declined): "Fiji was too small to squander its limited pool of talent. Worse still, this division created an atmosphere of frustration that could fester and poison relations."
    • The Pacific Way: A Memoir (1996)
  • From where I stand, I do not see the lost people of the South Seas, the defeated and the despairing, shrunken shadows of those who went before. What I observe are the proud descendants of some of the most remarkable explorers and settlers who ever lived. We carry the cultural and historical inheritance of ocean navigators of peerless skill and their courageous kin who crossed vast distances before the tribes of Europe had ventured forth from their small part of the earth. Our forebearers populated islands scattered over the world's greatest stretch of water, covering a fifth of the planet's surface. It was one of the most amazing migrations in history, a triumphant testimony to human endurance, fortitude and achievement.
  • It is from the traditional family that we absorb those universal ideals and principles which are the teaching of Jesus, the bedrock of our religious faith. We are taught the difference between right and wrong, and about the law, just punishment and discipline. We are taught to obey our parents, as Jesus did, and about the sanctity of truth and life itself. We are warned against lying, cheating and stealing. We learn that we must respect the person and property of others, care for each other, live and work together in cooperation, show loyalty, patience, kindness and share what we have. The family teaches us about the importance of knowledge, education, hard work and effort. It teaches us about enjoying ourselves, having fun, keeping fit and healthy.
  • (Recollection of what he was thinking to himself when confronted by the military): "They want me out, they want me to abrogate the constitution and this is exactly what Speight wants and if they belong to Speight, I don’t belong to them."
    • (Quotes from an interview conducted in 2001, broadcast on Fijian television partially on 30 April 2001, and fully on 29 April 2004).
  • "If the constitution goes, I go."
    • (Quotes from an interview conducted in 2001, broadcast on Fijian television partially on 30 April 2001, and fully on 29 April 2004).
  • "I said, yes, if you think I will avoid bloodshed by standing aside I will stand aside … but I will never ever again come back."
    • (Quotes from an interview conducted in 2001, broadcast on Fijian television partially on 30 April 2001, and fully on 29 April 2004).
  • "It was the work of opportunists, crooks, thugs for their own self-gain and interest."
    • (Quotes from an interview conducted in 2001, broadcast on Fijian television partially on 30 April 2001, and fully on 29 April 2004).
  • "I had been in touch with a lot of people I thought would stand by me in the front row of the scrum, (I) didn't know it was going to collapse."
    • (Quotes from an interview conducted in 2001, broadcast on Fijian television partially on 30 April 2001, and fully on 29 April 2004).


Attributed[edit]

  • "The Pacific Way … is not a thing or state; it is the working out of a process. (But) … the most important things in life are the most difficult to measure … love, peace of mind, creativity, fulfillment, maturity or wisdom, for example."[citation needed]
  • "In a multi-racial society, trust, understanding and tolerance are the cornerstones of peace and order".[citation needed]
  • "It was the work of opportunists, crooks, thugs for their own self-gain and interest."
  • "I had been in touch with a lot of people I thought would stand by me in the front row of the scrum, (I) didn't know it was going to collapse."
  • "The reconciliation that has been undertaken today will be worthless if investigations into the coup do not reveal the truth behind the staging."

about Mara[edit]

Unless otherwise stated, all quotes below are from The Fiji Times Online. They are ordered by the last name of the person being quoted.

  • James Ah Koy, Senator and former Cabinet Minister: (From a Senate speech, 10 May, 2004): "Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was a man who is loved by many today and is appreciated for what he was - a man for all seasons, who was true to his God and his belief, true to his wife and family, true to his country, a man of faith, unswervingly for what he believed in and strived for."
  • Joseph Browne, Mara's secretary at the time of the coup:
    • "What we are going to witness is the height of hypocrisy. The involvement of the military and other elements in any ceremony is farcical because these institutions ridiculed him and betrayed him when he was the president at the height of the 2000 coup." (May 2004, on military participation in Mara's funeral)
    • "Fiji doesn't deserve him … they crucified him … he was attacked personally by the masses … rumours were spread about him … the decisions of the Great Council of Chiefs embarrassed him and the actions taken by the military and the police … he felt betrayed … justice will prevail." (This quote, and the one below, were reported by the Fiji Village news service, 21 April 2004).
    • "He stood for peace, progress and prosperity … the Turaga stood on the side of the marginalized … the poor … the supressed and he treated all as equals. The interest of the nation was first and foremost. The legacy that he left behind that I use as a beacon is the sum total of the hold is always greater than any of its parts."
  • Mahendra Chaudhry, Prime Minister (1999-2000). The following quotes are from a condolence message that Chaudhry sent out on 19 April 2004, after learning of Ratu Mara's death the previous day:
    • "He set a high standard of governance and demanded the very best from all those who served under him as ministers or civil servants."
    • "Ratu Mara was a man of great vision, commitment and dignity who towered above his contemporaries both here and abroad."
    • "Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was a rare combination of traditional Fijian aristocracy and the finest values of the Western tradition."
  • Sakeasi Dikota, former Aide-de-Camp to Ratu Mara (1992-1994): "Something that I learnt from Ratu Mara was his adherence to time .. he was a stickler for keeping up the time .. he was never, never late … and he would ensure that all programmes were not late by a minute. Protocol was also high on his list of priority. I also admired his art of dressing immaculately … he was always dressed according to the occasion … something that young people can learn from him."
  • Laisenia Qarase, Prime Minister of Fiji (2000-): "For as long as many of us could remember, he dominated our national life. His leadership was marked by discipline, vision and a keen and penetrating intellect. His dedication to this country was total. He worked tirelessly to make a unified nation from different communities; a nation to stand tall as a model of progress and harmony."
  • Sitiveni Rabuka, chief instigator of two military coups in 1987 and Prime Minister (1992-1999):
    • "When he brought it up again in the television interview, I thought it was very unbecoming of a national leader and of a statesman." (2 July 2001, responding to Mara's televised allegations that Rabuka had been a party to the 2000 coup).
    • "In 1987 he called me an angry young man and I can say he is an angry … old man. The mana he thought he enjoyed on his own in leadership he sees now can be enjoyed by Chaudhry, Rabuka, Reddy."
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