You are on page 1of 5

RWP1

Name: Sheik Zaid Rehman


ID NO: S98007399

According to the Random House Websters Dictionary, belittlement is defined as to regard or


portray as less impressive or important (c1993, p.65). Upon considering the Pacific context,
this would mean the degradation of oceanic cultures through actions and deeds that were
effective during the period of colonialisation which eventually instilled a mindset of feeling
less appreciation and dignity towards ones own identity.
The theory that Epeli Hau'ofa outlines is one that goes back to the missionaries who saw the
islanders of the Pacific as savages and unmannered who need to be corrected to Christian
ideas and values. Belittlement is a legacy that scarred deep into the fabric of Oceania
cultures.
The Pacific it seemed had been named or invented by the West. It seemed Europeans and
Americans had imposed their standards forcefully on the island people. Thus Epeli Hauofa
believes smallness is a state of mind (1993, p.53). That these particular human beings will
be ordered around and subjected to the will of those who control the global economy. This
marrow perspective had been passed down through generations. Cultural histories of the
Pacific are overlooked only because they are too isolated or far away from the centre of
power of bigger metropolitan countries. That being confined to tiny spaces with their
calculation based entirely on the extent of the land surfaces that they see (Hauofa, 1993,
p.153) gave the notion that they are regressive. The white men felt that due to the smallness,
any sort of development would have less impact on the livelihood of the Pacific peoples.
Post-independence, the island states were in a hurry to get finances in order to develop their
infrastructure, the environment was still recovering from the depletion of natural resources
during the colonial era and the migration of local to overseas has perhaps led to dependency
on aid, remittances and resulting in negative GDP.

The colonial masters failed to consider or give preference to the ancient myths and traditions
which had for ages, proposed to use stars and the heavens to bind and guide the island
peoples to their life journeys. Our oral histories should also matter in the wider scheme of
living and existence. Exploration bunched the islands in a sea as tiny dots in a big ocean. Old
scholars had devised maps on exploration, demarcating boundaries according to their
knowledge and experiences that today have made the islands national states.
Consequently, the early mapping of the Pacific was done on a division of Melanesia,
Polynesia and Micronesia. Designation was also carried based on racial preferences. The use
of the science of race) in reference of body structure and physical appearances to name
locations and places in the Pacific (Kabutaulaka, 2015, p.112). The Europeans influenced by
their interactions with the rest of the world drew negative comparisons with the physical
appearances and social structures of Africans with Melanesians whom they considered darkskinned and primitive of all the human races and that they needed to be treated the same way
as slaves or subordinates, replicating the 18-19th century slave trade to America. In contrast,
Polynesians were seen as refined peoples who were organized into powerful monarchies and
societies. In mapping Oceania, Melanesia was named according to the colour of the skin of
the inhabitants. It denoted blackness. Polynesia and Micronesia were attributed to the land
mass and geography of the islands.
Unfortunately, the misrepresentation of the Melanesians has become internalized by the
Pacific Islanders including their own selves in the language and interactions. The Polynesians
(Samoans and Tongans) due to their earlier conversion to Christianity thought of themselves
as physically and culturally stronger than the Melanesia. Having pride the Samoans
believing themselves to be the cream of the Pacific, they tended to look down on others,
particularly the Papua New Guineans and Solomon Islanders (Kabutaulaka, 2015, p. 124).

Subsequently, as a descendant of the Indians who had come to work under the Indentured
System from India, I feel out of place in the Pacific. I feel like a Fijian of Indian descent
rather than a Pacific Islander. We have never been accepted by the other Oceanic people and
not being part of a larger community of exchanging our skills and arts and language as it is
dissimilar to theirs and vice versa. There has always existed the suspicion and resentment to
form any social interaction as we pride in ourselves of being aloof and being superior in
amassing material wealth and knowledge and that we consider others as backward and lazy.
By having being separated from our Motherland we continue to forge and interact with and
draw meaningful relationships with the people of India. As such we may not be able to
accommodate or consider our place here in the Pacific. I seemed to have a lower level of self
esteem but perhaps try to compensate it with the inclination to pursue western values and
ideas. There is a forlorn respect for the Pacific cultures that they do exist. My boundary lines
may influence me on the lower levels of their philosophies of life. That the Pacific culture is
diverse and rich and may have done something and hence they are existing till today. I try to
overcome my belittlement my using my own intellect and rational thinking to navigate my
way in the world. My measure of success and confidence is appropriated in the other positive
emotions and beliefs that I have for myself.
In conclusion I need to have a clear preference for myself and the world around me. I need to
be firm and not let the negative remarks of others affect me. Epeli Hauofa reminds that the
people of the Pacific had mapped and named their own natural surroundings including the
sea. Nationhood divides us but the ocean connects us. Some names have demeaned us but we
should reconsider them so as to empower us. The term Oceania seems more appropriate to
use instead of Pacific Islands. The people of the islands should consider calling themselves
Oceanic because they live in the vast Pacific Ocean which is open to all who want to navigate
it through as they exchange goods, sail and visit loved ones from one island to another,
crossing boundaries and expanding greater social networks. Globalization has now made

it more than possible for that to happen as new economic realities tend to take place. Hauofa
sees regionalism as an important ideal in which the islands of the Pacific, can join forces and
cooperate to gain access to international markets in terms of trade and development. The
Pacific Islands Forum is one such organization that is trying to remedy the islands problems
to the international experts. Furthermore, the Pacific Games has always provided the platform
to unite diversity through sporting events and build on harmony. The people of Oceania
should self-reflect on their own selves and try to nurture their own creativity for themselves
and for the future generations. They need to focus and put the Pacific at the centre of
whatever they do. Try to step outside their comfort zone, leave aside their internal differences
and collaborate and listen to their inner voices. To be conscious where they need to be alert
and aware of things Pacific and of its values that have long being forgotten.

References
Hau'ofa, E. (1993). Our Sea of Islands. The Contemporary Pacific, Vol.6 (No.1).
Kabutaulaka, T. (2015). Re-Presenting Melanesia: Ignoble Savages and Melanesian AlterNatives. The Contemporary Pacific, 27(1).
Random House Websters dictionary.(1998) 3rd ed. New York: Ballantine Publishing.