Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Te Radar in the Pacific: new journey, same old stereotypes

In his review of my Oceania issue of brief  for the Australian journal Jacket2, Jack Ross discusses the 'strange propensity of New Zealanders' to forget they live 'in the middle of the largest ocean on earth', an ocean containing an immense number of islands and cultures. When palangi Kiwis do think about the Pacific, they tend to use simplistic and old-fashioned concepts, which long ago ossified into stereotypes.
Jack approves of the new issue of brief, but not all readers have shared his feelings. One critic of the issue, who wishes to remain anonymous, complains that I have 'filled the thing up with too much theory' when I could have been including more 'poems, stories, reports and photos' from the Pacific. It is true that brief 44-45 contains some fairly heavy-duty theorising from the likes of the Tongan intellectuals Futa Helu, Epeli Hau'ofa and 'Okusi Mahina and the New Zealand Marxist Owen Gager. Helu, Mahina, Hau'ofa and Gager have all wanted to change the ways we think about the Pacific, and to do this they have created new theoretical accounts of the region's history and makeup. They have minted their own, sometimes cumbersome concepts to replace labels and categories they consider Eurocentric or excessively romantic or otherwise unhelpful.

I think that the theoretical writings of Helu, Gager et al are something more than exercises in self-indulgence. As Kant showed more than two centuries ago, humans see the world through the prisms made by the ideas they hold. If we hold simplistic and outdated ideas about the Pacific, then no amount of fresh information about the region - no amount photographs or reports or travel - will help us to understand it better. We will remain prisoners of our preconceptions. Just as a pair of glasses needs to be replaced when its lenses have worn out, so a set of ideas needs to be junked when it badly distorts our understanding of the world.

The latest product from Kiwi comedian-cum-documentary maker Te Radar shows the quixotry of trying to get a new view of the world through old and blurry ideological lenses. In the promotional clip for Radar Across the Pacific, a television series which will portray his travels through Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, and Kiribati, Te Radar points out that the nations of the tropical Pacific are New Zealand's 'neighbours', but that many Kiwis nevertheless know little about them. Te Radar intends his jaunt through the tropics as a journey of discovery, for himself and for his palangi audience.

Te Radar has made a niche for himself as New Zealand's cuddly, politically correct comedian, the man who generally refrains from toilet and bedroom humour, and who would never think of making his audience laugh with nasty ethnic stereotypes. Te Radar's television documentaries have been as well-meaning as his comedy. In Off the Radar he 'went bush' on a plot of land north of Auckland, in an effort to become self-sufficient; with Hidden in the Numbers he made an heroic attempt to popularise the work of Statistics New Zealand.
In recent years a slew of deliberately crass travel documentaries have won big television audiences in the West. An Idiot Abroad, a series which follows an obnoxious Briton as he travels the world, insulting almost everyone he meets along the way, has traded particularly well on old-fashioned racial and cultural stereotypes. It is hard to imagine Te Radar laughing at An Idiot Abroad. He clearly intends his journey across the Pacific as a respectful investigation, and in the first episode of the series, which was broadcast tonight and saw him travelling through Fiji, he was impeccably polite to all of his interlocutors and persistently curious about their society.

But Te Radar's good intentions couldn't stop the first installment of his series relying on the same racial stereotypes which sustain products like An Idiot Abroad.

Te Radar's journey through Fiji made him aware, again and again, of the size and political power of that nation's military. Te Radar repeatedly observed that Fiji has experienced several military coups in recent decades, and that its current leader is a military man. He noted the Fijian army's involvement in counterinsurgency and 'peacekeeping' campaigns in places like Iraq and Sinai, and visited a village which had lost sons on foreign battlefields.
Te Radar cannot be faulted for focusing his attention on Fiji's military. The armed forces are far more central to Fiji's history and identity than the palm-fringed beaches or faux-pagan dances which are commonly used to represent the country in tourist brochures and lazy travel guides.

But Te Radar's revelations about the size and far-flung deployment of Fiji's military raised a couple of difficult questions. Why, anyone watching his documentary would have wanted to ask, does a poor country with less than a million people keep thousands of men in uniform? And what interest does Fiji have in sending so many men so regularly to distant battlefields?

Instead of offering intellectually serious answers to the questions he had raised, Te Radar fell back on hoary ethnic stereotypes. He explained that Fiji had a large military because native Fijians were a warrior people who saw fighting as an essential part of their culture. The vision of indigenous Fijians as ferocious, inveterate warriors has its roots in the writings of nineteenth century European explorers, missionaries, and colonists, and was popularised in the twentieth century by pulp novels and sensationalist films.

Perhaps aware of the dubious lineage of his talk about native warrior traditions, Te Radar offered an additional explanation for the importance of Fiji's armed forces. Talking to a villager who had lost a relative on a foreign battlefield, he suggested that Fijians might be popular peacekeepers because they had 'such friendly smiles'. With this cringeworthy line Te Radar invoked the stereotype of indigenous Fijians as a simple, happy people, blissed out by kava and the tropical sun.

Te Radar is not the first person to mix up the two main stereotypical depictions of Fijians. In Fiji and elsewhere in the Pacific, palangi depictions of indigenous people have revolved around cliches of noble and ignoble savages. Missionaries and colonists often switched between the two stereotypes, depending on their moods and needs. Both stereotypes remain embedded in the consciousness of many palangi, even in the twenty-first century.

If Te Radar had been able to cast aside his stereotypes and examine the history and sociology of Fiji, he would have discovered that, far from being some simple expression of the indigenous soul, the size of the Fijian military is the product of decisions made by the imperialist powers who dominated the country in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In 1874, after a violent campaign by settlers who had organised a branch of the Ku Klux Klan, Fiji's King Cakobau was forced to ask Britain to annex his country. The British were interested in growing sugar in Fiji, but reluctant to spend large sums of money on the needs of its native population. They placed native Fijians under the control of handpicked chiefs, forbade them from visiting towns like Suva or entering a range of occupations, and imported large numbers of Indians to work in the sugar industry. Fiji was soon divided into a burgeoning capitalist society and a stagnant indigenous ghetto. Realising that the most restive native Fijians needed to be given some way of improving their lot, the British decided to give the colony an army recruited from native villages. The army became larger and larger, as more and more young men clamoured to join it and escape from their narrow lives.
In the second half of the twentieth century the United States began to exert a strong influence on Fijian society. American military advisors were sent to train the Fijian army, and duly imbued it with a fervently anti-communist Cold War ideology. The army was warned about the dangers of Indian-dominated left-wing organisations like the Labour Party and the trade unions, and encouraged to think of itself as the conscience of Fiji, rather than a mere tool of civilian politicians. Sitiveni Rabuka, who staged the first of Fiji's military coups in 1987, was a good example of the sort of soldier American advisors helped create in the postwar decades. Rabuka was a fundamentalist Christian who wanted to see the conversion of Fiji's 'heathen' Hindus, and who regarded the Labour Party he deposed almost as an arm of the Soviet Union. Frank Bainimarama presents himself as the saviour of Fiji's Indians as well as its indigenous people, but he, as much as Rabuka, is the product of a politicised military which has a large degree of autonomy from the rest of Fijian society.

The Fijian army's continual deployments in distant troublespots have reinforced both its autonomy and its politicisation. The deployments give the military income, and make it less reliant on funding from Fijian governments. They also allow give some Fijian soldiers the sense that they are playing an important role in world events, and reinforce their contemptuous attitude towards civilian politicians and civil servants in Suva.

The first episode of Radar Across the Pacific failed because Te Radar's laudable curiosity about the Pacific collided with his allegiance to hoary stereotypes about the region. To understand a place we need not only information, but a set of background ideas about that place which avoid simplification and prejudice. Te Radar should have read Epeli Hau'ofa or Futa Helu before he packed his bags and took off for the tropics.
[Posted by Maps/Scott]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

he's doing Tonga soon
expect lots of discussions about big bellies and eccentric but loveable monarchs...and not so much about rioting or epic civil servants' strikes...

9:32 am  
Anonymous AHD said...

Funnily enough, I'm writing about this very issue at the moment in Theroux's 'The Happy Isles of Oceania'. More complex ideological operations, but the same imperialist aesthetics do have a very long tail.

3:05 pm  
Anonymous Kicker of Elves said...

Criticising Te Radar is like kicking an elf.

5:29 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

You're doing more work on Theroux's book, Andrew? I thought your piece on The Happy Isles of Oceania worked nicely in brief 44-45.

Titus Books is interested in (though not, I should add, committed to doing) an anthology of palangi imaginative writing about the Pacific from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: maybe you have some suggestions for such a bestiary?
I've been pointing to John Macmillan Brown's bizarre, psudonymous Pacific rewrite of Gulliver's Travels, Riallaro:

5:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said... don't like the programme because it doesn't agree with your left-wing prejudices..?

10:43 pm  
Anonymous AHD said...

Hi Scott --

Yeah, I'm working up what should be a full-length essay on Happy Isles and Riding the Iron Rooster. I'm trying to understand why Theroux generates either/or readings; few writers provoke such instant like or dislike, in my experience.

And wow, I wasn't aware of JMB's work -- I only really know him as the grandfather of James K Baxter, and the man whose legacy funds the MacMillan Brown Library and the MacMillan Brown Centre. His old house up in Cashmere is beautiful, as I discovered when I trespassed there one night. The owner, a millionaire business (famous for bringing Klik-klak containers to NZ), was out of town somewhere.

And the anthology sounds great! I'll pass on anything I can think of...


11:18 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:24 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I went to Fiji about 1974 and started in the University of the South Pacific (we knew student and got re accommodation during the University holidays).

There was clearly even then a tension between Indians (they work on the sugar cane or are pilots or taxi drivers, or business men etc) and indigenous Fijians, although I talked to a young Muslim man who in fact who said that by can large most ethnic groups got on very well. The "tension" (not so significant really) is because Fijians own the land and Indians are petty bourgeois (but also there are historical reasons). But in Suva there was lot of competition to sell goods. But Fiji has complex history – it’s not that small, by the way, the main Island has a rugged mountain terrain where the army trains and the NZ Army has worked with the Fijian army for years. But there was no evidence at all that Fijians are either excessively "friendly" (many are, but no more than anyone else) or that they are warriors! They were people very much like any people, anywhere. There were cultural differences and clearly (as we see now) political, but Fiji has also been exploited by various International companies (as in the Ocean Island in Kiribati where my grandfather worked for the British Super Phosphate company (it was very much also and Australian and NZ company) and they ripped the guts out of Ocean Island and other places, not replacing the coconut trees (as they were meant to) and many had to abandon Kiribati (such as Ocean Island)...That meant that New Zealand for one benefited hugely as the fertilizer was put on the big rich farms (by top dressing) where they had been over used or eroded or deforested, so NZ also took part in and benefited from, Imperialist desecration of the Pacific Islands and the people there (who also are used as cheap labour by the Capitalists in NZ and other places).

Similar exploitation occurred throughout the Pacific (it was not all bad, the British didn't destroy everything (look also to the activities of the French and also the US as in The Marshalls which have been devastated by Nuclear testing etc, but the British have also done nuclear testing.) and indeed in Fiji they protected against black birding -

But the poverty of many people in and around Suva for example is or was (and probably hasn't changed a lot) quite clear.

But I found most people very good, whether Indian Fijians or "Fijian" Fijians or indeed some Rotumans; (we stayed with a Frenchman who ran a boarding house on Ovalau Island and his wife was Rotuman) ...

If you also want to see sea life and some beautiful places you will see all that (and that is great as also the sugar cane areas and the mountains etc are great), but the place is, like NZ, also interesting and clearly complex.

It is unfortunate Radar is or seems to be so naive. (I had read quite a bit about the Pacific, before I went on the holiday, and also about Fiji (before I went): in fact I went there more or less by chance as my ex wife (who is part Samoan) won a trip there at Ponsonby multi-cultural festival that they used to have in those days...)

So I had some insight and knowledge, which this Radar character doesn't seem to have. By reading books here in Auckland, in library or wherever, you could learn more about the Pacific Islands that someone who is a cheesy and probably a phony journalist and relatively stupid like him. Its pity so many journalists are so ignorant and cynical: very few of them do any reading (unlike Pilger or say NZ’s Peter Arnett), and they are all after superficial stuff to sell their stories. I’ve noticed hat the intellectual content of The Listener has declined over the years. It used to be very informative. Television has also got simply worse and worse. It was far better when we only had two channels. Now it is full of bilge like the stuff from this benighted Radar character.

11:36 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

' don't like the programme because it doesn't agree with your left-wing prejudices..?'

I don't think it is quite as simple as that. My favourite travel book was written by VS Naipaul, an outspoken Tory. Naipaul's India: a Million Mutinies Now records a visit he made to that country at the end of the '80s, and argues that the old mass struggles of the Indian past - the long struggle for independence from the British, for example - have been replaced by a fragmentation, as various subsections of society - Sikhs, untouchables, women, southerners unhappy with northern domination, and so on - assert themselves. Naipaul thinks this fragmentation has many positive as well as negative features. He ranges the country, interviewing everyone from Maoist cadre to Sikh fundamentalists to diehard defenders of the caste system.

Naipaul's take on 1980s Indian society owes little to the terminology of the left, but it is also free of the sort of cliches to which the first episode of Radar Across the Pacific unfortunately succumbed.

In an article about his series published in The Press this week, Te Radar explains that
he wants to help Kiwis understand more about the Pacific, but then goes on to say that he was 'also guilty of not knowing his Samoa from his Tonga before filming began'.

I'm sure that, once he arrived in the tropical Pacific and began to mix with the locals and conduct interviews, Te Radar was very keen to learn about the history and sociology and politics of the region. It seems extraordinary to me, though, that he wouldn't have done some research about nations like Samoa and Tonga before he turned up at their airports with a film crew. Did he expect to pick up everything he needed to know about those places in the few days he spent there shooting interviews? Didn't it ever occur to him, in the months or years during which he was presumably planning his documentary, that it might be worth toddling off to the library and doing a bit of reading about the places he intended introducing to palangi Kiwis? Does he think that great travel writers like Naipaul, or even middling travel writers like Theroux, dispense with that sort of research?

Elsewhere in The Press piece Te Radar talks about playing golf with Sitiveni Rabuka, and being surprised by the man's charm. In the episode that screened last night he also remarked that Rabuka was more politically moderate than he had expected. If Te Radar had done just a little bit of research he would have known that Rabuka is renowned for his charm, and that the man who staged two coups in 1987 in the name of indigenous Fijian supremacy has repositioned himself, over the last decade decade and a half, as a moderate, at least by the standards of Fijian nationalists. Because of his lack of basic research, Te Radar seems to have deluded himself into thinking that he was offering his viewers revelations, when he was simply relaying information that is as old as the hills.

12:26 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

It's fascinating to hear that you hung out with some Rotumans in Fiji, Richard. Did you hear the language? It's supposed to be one the strangest and most complex in the world.

The odd thing about Rotuma, so far as I can tell, is that it is situated near the edges of the Polynesian, Micronesian, and Melanesian worlds, and at the same time lies a long distance from any other island. It seems, from what I've read (as you know, I'm no linguist!), that the island picked up words from many sources, but that this mixture was stabilised by isolation. The result was the only linguistic isolate in Polynesia. A Fijian director made a feature film called The Land Has Eyes in Rotuma, and I got it out on DVD just to hear the sound of the language.

I used to want to travel to Rotuma, but the Rotumans have decided not to allow tourists on to their island (I can't say I blame them!), so I've given up, for the time being at least, on that ambition...

12:53 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plenty of Rotumans in Auckland. Look like Samoans with Fijian accents.

9:21 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard. Why do you think it should be compulsory to read books.

4 reasons why books suck compared to TV

A picture is worth a thousand words. TV lets you see and hear a story, or information. Imagine just reading about the recent disasters in Japan, Alabama and Missouri vs. seeing them and seeing interviews with survivors. Much more powerful and immediate on TV.

2. Books take too much time. TV gives the info much faster.

3. More interactive than books. People have said that books are more interactive because why? Because you have to turn the pages? Technology now allows you to vote and interact with TV programs.

4. Information is more current, right up to the minute.

9:59 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Scott, my wife and I went to Ovalau by boat and returned by aeroplane (which landed in a field. The pilot was a young and very competent and nice, but, typically of Indians (especially those I met there) – taciturn - pilot. Now on Ovalau I met some Fijian Fijians who were all pretty friendly, and although I didn't drink I went to a party they invited me to. From memory there was kava though. But I didn't speak much Fijian (except a few greetings etc). We stayed in a place called Levuka run by Frenchman whose wife was Rotuman.

Here is the inscription in my 'Fijian Grammar' by G. B. Milner:

...Given to [me] by Mr. Fred Simone at the Guest House, Levuka, FIJI, Feb 17/2/74...

So I have had other copies I have sold of that (I also sold a book of Cook Island Maori, as well as various books on e.g. Maori carving (first ed. for $100) or a dictionary by Apirana Ngata - as such books are in big demand...) but I kept this one, as it is fairly common. [By the way Internet book sales have dropped almost to zero since the 2008 devaluation of US and other currencies]

The Rotumans were or are more like Samoans or Tongans and being women were mostly beautiful. The French guy was o.k. But he railed against the Fijians, saying that such people, being born in such hot places, were always lazier (and I assume culturally and racially) inferior than Europeans. I argued with his worldview a bit. He then proceeded to give a demonstration of the contrast between a European getting suddenly out of bed in the morning and the way a Fijian would get up slowly and lazily etc! It was quite comical. Perhaps he’d been in the French army in Vietnam or something!

But I can’t recall hearing them speak. The women didn't say much. They were very nice though. The Frenchman's wife and her relatives and maybe his daughters were all I saw. It's so long ago! They provided the food, which was great, including a lot of fresh food from the garden as well as fish, of course in such places there is (or was) a lot fish and hundreds of crabs running along the beach...

I can’t comment on Rotuman culture, as at the time, while I knew there were quite a lot of Rotumans in Fiji, I thought they spoke a language similar to Samoan or something. Now Samoan is about the only language I ever got anywhere near to being able to speak in even limited way, but I have forgotten a lot of it. I learnt it and Maori in my deeply passionate and idealist [shit stirring] days (when I was young, and had all my own teeth, and somewhat hopeful, and mad (as I still am but in a more introverted sense of insanity!), and I actually believed in things!)

12:36 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

But apart from the young Rotuman women being mostly very attractive (but when one is young just about all (reasonably pretty) women look attractive!), I can’t say much about the Rotuman culture or language, I didn’t know anything about their language. But it sounds interesting. Now I recall you mentioned this on another post. You could spend several life times studying the languages, politics, sociology, history and culture of Oceania…and still be baffled by it all.

[A lot of people can’t bring themselves to do he glottal stops that e.g. Samoans in contrast to say Maori, use. That is, they can’t do the Cockney bu’n (button).]

But I went there so many years ago, you need to know from people who are younger from there (or here) and or who have been there recently (or been there longer) but not such as includes flakey tourists like this Radar chap. People with some nous of God's sake. Send [think of some ridiculous examples] to do some work and report back to us their findings!!

Get the journos and academics to work for three years in factories in Fiji in the spirit of getting to know what reality is like and in the spirit of the Cultural Revolution. Get them out of their offices and get them to suffer and learn. Get them to move among the people and to learn from them as Mao rightly urged. Get them to go where it’s hardest – even to join the army and work from “within”. None of this weak flaky stuff! I’m too old for all that now though…but there are some candidates in the Writers Group, and some Deep-Postmodernist academics, I have my eye on….Practice to theory to practice and back to theory to practice, and so on…the dialectic must be invoked…

Look Fiji is (or was then, I assume it hasn’t really changed fundamentally) really exciting place on many levels - but it is interesting. And COMPLEX. That's the point.

12:36 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

"Anonymous said...

Richard. Why do you think it should be compulsory to read books."

When did I say that? You might be confused - I sell books. Whether anyone reads them once I sell them is not important to me. It is the do re mi I'm after. But I read a lot as I like reading (I did as child before I got to high school I'd had read about 80% of Dickens' novels, Hugo's 'Les Miserbles', many books on (albeit "popular") science, and much else) its true but there was long period in my life didn't read much. I don't necessarily think anyone else should read books, it is one way of getting information that is ancillary o TV, videos and the internet etc

" 4 reasons why books suck compared to TV

A picture is worth a thousand words."

This can be true but is more of a truism, as photographs and images can be falsified as much as words.

" TV lets you see and hear a story, or information. Imagine just reading about the recent disasters in Japan, Alabama and Missouri vs. seeing them and seeing interviews with survivors. Much more powerful and immediate on TV."

Maybe but that can be disadvantage and a cause of information distortion also. When I was young we had no TV and radio with only 3 stations. We got news via the news paper and none of us were the worse for it. It also seemed pretty immediate. But TV, used wisely has some advantages (not many.) But most people just sit there staring at it vacantly and about 80% of it is taken up by adverts these days. A newspaper can be read in more depth - people usually only take in a small amount of the info on TV. many people read the Newspaper every day and watch TV (some people, I'm not one, can read very quickly and retain the info also)

1:30 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

" 2. Books take too much time. TV gives the info much faster. "

Yes and no. There are so many of them for sure and many are very long. But a lot of people love long books. And many people (not me) can read very quickly.
Faster but less in depth. Books can be reviewed by the reader and they can be copied. TV is another media. people who read books also watch TV. My son, for example, learns a lot from TV documentaries (or YouTube etc) etc and movies,as he doesn't read many books, now that is fine. But some people read also. I use all new media /technology except I don't have a cell phone.

" 3. More interactive than books. People have said that books are more interactive because why?"

What is more attractive? They can be - the over art, their physicality. Some people, au contraire, hate books. There are those who as well as loving reading, are bibliophiles.

" Because you have to turn the pages?"


"Technology now allows you to vote and interact with TV programs."

Unfortunately and we get morons of every ilk giving their usually very uninformed and stupid and superficial (because they don't read enough I am afraid!) opinions. (I hate talk-back for this reason). The "man on the street" is always an ignorant fascist.

"4. Information is more current, right up to the minute"

But often twisted, superficial, and manipulated by the various agencies (and the general ignorance of people who don't read enough!) because of that.

I am not one of those who only believes in High Culture, nor do I fetishize The Book. I can see huge advantages that TV and computers have bought (or can do even more one day) but so far the book as such has or should not be replaced. But I CAN see some (many, space saving is one)) advantages with electronic books such Kindle or similar.

But it is not an either or situation. The other thing about books is you can write your own. Of course you can also make movies.

Look everything has its advantages and disadvantages. There are many ways to kill a cat or eat an elephant, and all roads lead to Rome...The point about books for Tonga etc was that they could easily etc access to computers etc
Do you ever look at art (ro technical or craft or animal books with pictures?) books? Imagine a really good art book in electronic form? It is almost impossible (it may happen using holographic tech etc)...also there are many books not online as such and even e-books usually cost.

But, once a woman came to my house and looked at my (by then) many books, and said: "I hate books." Some people do. As I say when I was in my twenties I mainly read books about electronics etc as I was doing a course in engineering.I had very few books. Some friends I have have none at all. When I was young we didn't have many books but we went to the library once a month I think it was. The "electronic book" may well replace physical books one day (but there will still be book collectors).

Kind regards, RT

1:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I use to hate books and the reason why is because I thought they were boring. When really they are like a tv but typed in words. just think about it like that and they are ace.

but poems...sorry...they really suck

10:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ps now i read a lot, but i still spend time on my xbox 360. i play the 360 from about 10 am-5pm and then i read till 9:30 which is when i eat and take a shower and get ready for bed at 10pm. about 4 times a week ill walk around my apartment complex for 30 min to an hour. so you cant say i dont do anything other then games. now you may say, "oh what about your social life, well i have almost 100 friends that i play with half the time on xbl and then theres the internet, so i have all my bases covered. ok?

10:31 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Books aren't for everyone but they can give pleasure and information. But if you look at television in a way you are also reading. Even if there are no words being spoken you are "reading" the images and that is good. But remember when people had no TVs? I do! Even then most people didn't read.

For human beings, books are a relatively recent invention and most people for most of our history have either been unable or not able or not interested (enough) to read.

If you prefer games etc there is no problem I used to spend ages playing Pacman in the 80s and I was an adult! My son spends hours playing computer games and he is now 40. He does read but not very much.

He learns from watching TV, videos, YouTube etc and in fact learns some things via his computer games. But with his computer etc and X-Box he plays games which are his main interest.

I have more recently got a bit obsessed with books. You don't need to read books unless you enjoy reading them.

Some books are used for reference.

Poetry is not very popular, and often difficult so don't worry about not reading poetry, you are not alone there! A lot of poetry is too complicated and mysterious... I write poems but often have no idea what I have written about myself or why anyone would want to read what I have written! So if you don't like poetry just don't read poems. Poetry doesn't make anything happen, it's a bit like Chess...a game which is quite useless but can be interesting if you know the rules and a few tricks...but it is so hard, and used to take up so much of my time in studying it, that I recently gave up playing it! So I don't encourage people to write (or even read) poetry or to play chess. Both activities are probably quite useless.

Keep well, RT

11:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a more simple reason why the military is still quite large for a developing country.

It brings in money for the country. They had agreements with other countries with equipment. Whenever Fiji seeks aid from overseas, it can point to the good work its peace keepers are doing in Lebanon or Gaza as way to sweeten the deal.

There are also hundreds of Fijians who serve in the British armed forces for the same reason. Money for their families.

4:50 pm  

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