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Opening of the Vodafone Bula Festival 2010

November 27, 2010       Prince Charles Park, Nadi

The Fourteen (14) Beautiful Contestants;
The President, Vodafone Bula Festival 2010, Mrs Titilia Vuataki;
The Special Administrator, Nadi Town, Mr Aisea Tuidraki;
Members of the Bula Festival Association;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good evening, ni sa bula vinaka, namaste

It is indeed a great pleasure for me to be here this evening on the occasion of the opening of the Vodafone Bula Festival 2010, an event that the citizens of Nadi and visitors (both local and overseas) to this tourist town are always eager to attend.

This morning, I was the chief guest at the graduation ceremony at the Montfort Boys Town in Veisari near Suva where I was honoured to present certificates to 52 enterprising male students and tonight – perhaps for my hard work or for my greying good looks or for both – at this wonderful community gathering, I get to meet fourteen beautiful young ladies vying for the Bula Festival crown.  As we say in Bau, there is a God. You, young ladies, all look spell blindingly beautiful in your colourful dresses.

The Bula Festival this year marks another milestone as we celebrate its golden jubilee. From its humble beginnings in 1960 as the commerce festival as it was known until the name was changed  to Nadi Bula Festival in 1962, the festival has continued to grow and gain popularity both locally and overseas. I am told that the organizing committee has put together a special programme for the golden jubilee celebrations, which you will all enjoy.

I understand that the funds raised from the festival are always directed towards the development of Nadi town and its environs and the community livelihood for the citizens of Nadi. For this year the Vodafone Bula Festival committee has set a target of $300,000 that is earmarked for the upgrading of the Nadi hospital mortuary and the construction of a special clinic for the special need children.

In the late 80s Nadi saw the need for a hospital. However, government was not in a position to carry out the project. This prompted the Nadi Bula Festival Association to embark on a fund raising drive called Project 91 which resulted in a $1 million cash contribution that was donated to government for the construction of the Nadi hospital.

Other major projects funded by the Nadi Bula Festival included the construction of the Nadi Civic Auditorium and the Nadi Town Council children’s library.

Financial assistance was also directed to the Nadi centre for special education by way of an annual grant, school fees and education material for financially depressed families, for family livelihood and other community projects.

I must commend the Nadi Bula Festival Association and the participating agencies for your wisdom, patience, commitment and selfless sacrifice in this worthy cause for the betterment of the people of Nadi. I am sure there are people outside Nadi that also benefit from your kind and generous support.

We all remember vividly that Nadi town was devastated by the January 2009 flood that caused major socio-economic disruptions not only in Nadi but also in other districts within the western division. Many shops and homes were left in ruins and many sustained extensive damage. The total cost of damage to the Nadi district according to the SOPAC economic assessment was f$243.9 million. The floods took a heavy toll on infrastructures and public utilities and the business community which prompted government and the Nadi Town Council to put together a major rehabilitation programme.

Through the combined effort of the government, the private sector, civil society and the NGOs including charitable organizations like the Nadi Bula Festival Committee, Nadi quickly recovered. The annual Nadi Bula Festival was held last year to the delight of many people in Nadi and throughout the country. This was testament to the resilience of the Nadi community that despite human sufferings and losses you firmly bounced back with renewed vigour.

The spirit of being able to rise up like the phoenix from the ashes of adversity and beautifully soar like the kula bird, portrays the beautiful and fighting bula spirit that lure locals and tourists from far distant destinations to flock into Nadi, the tourist hub of Fiji, for the annual Nadi Bula Festival.

Each festival celebrated with joy and festivities shows that the despite hardships and the sufferings that we encounter, we can still come together in unity as one people to celebrate our diversity for our common good.

It is my fervent desire that the Nadi Bula Festival will provide the catalyst for sustainable socio-economic development, greater social interaction and community solidarity within the Nadi district and the whole of the western division in our quest towards making A Better Fiji for All.

To the fourteen beautiful contestants, I say “you are all winners this evening just for participating in this worthy cause.”  Good luck and ensure that you all enjoy your dream week.

I wish you all, as well as the sponsors, the hard working Bula Festival Association, the business community and the citizens of Nadi the very best in this week-long festival and the celebrations for the Bula Festival golden jubilee.

I will conclude with a word of caution.  Most of you know that I am the special representative of Fiji on HIV/AIDS.  HIV/AIDS is still on the rise in the world including here in Fiji.  The numbers of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is still on the rise and is far too high especially in the youth category of our population.  This is because of having unprotected sex.  So practice safe sex. Be wise – use a condom.  Like the ones I have here. A female condom and a male condom.  They have been scientifically proven to save lives.  So be wise.  Use a condom.

God bless you all

Thank you, Vinaka vakalevu and Bahoot dhanyavaad