Marrying religion and conservation could be key to making Fiji’s fisheries sustainable By: Amy West
Fijians appear to enter life with vocal cords prepped for singing. It’s an ideal trait, because most are deeply devoted to church where their voices are put to good use. When walking through villages on any given day, these beautiful sounds can be heard reverberating along the jungle backdrop.
Fijians have strong religious beliefs, which were primarily introduced by Christian missionaries in the 1835, and today profoundly guide their daily lives. More than half of all Fijians are Christian, with the majority being Methodists followed by Catholics. In Fiji, no work or planning occurs on Sunday—that day is typically devoted to honoring God.
Churches and other places of worship are a very common sight in Fiji. Though the majority are Christian-based, nearly 40 percent of the country is of Indian decent, and thus Hinduism constitutes the second largest religion. Photo by Amy West
An evening discussion around dinner in the capital of Suva highlighted the fact that Fijians would give their last dime to fund the church. They practically do, as villagers contribute portions of their income to pay for a pastor and build or repair their church. In rural areas, indigenous Fijians spend considerably on religious financial contributions – F$22 million annually— even higher than loan repayments or other village fees, according to the most recently published census in 2008-2009 from Fiji’s Bureau of Statistics. For comparison, rural communities spent a total of F$40 million on education expenses and just over F$13 million on entertainment costs such as computers or sports. In the urban areas, religious contributions – F$34 million annually – fall behind loan repayments and insurance, but are still considerable.
By: Amy West
Mongabay Special Reporting Initiatives Fellow
November 25, 2014