Thursday, August 16, 2007


Akesa Drotini walks every morning along the gravel and dusty road from her village to school.
The one and a half mile walk is long for someone her age, but she walk with a dream to represent her country one day.
This lass is set to showcase her talent as she tries to outshine other runners at the Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa later this month.
Drotini, 14, may be the youngest in the athletics team but to her size does not matter.
The slim runner could not believe her ears when she was told she would be representing her country this year.
The specialist 3000 metre runner is expected to be one athlete who will attract attention as she takes on other athletes who are much older and bigger than her.
This shy Wainibuka lass is one who does not do a lot of talking, but she does where it matters most on the track.
She is a Form Two student of Wainibuka Secondary School in Tailevu.
"I live at Nasaibitu Village in Wainibuka," she said.
"And I walk to school and back home every day."
Kesa, as she is known among her peers, is a little girl with the very big ambition of achieving greater things in athletics.
"The first time for me to compete competitively was during the Milo Games, where I won a bronze medal," Kesa said.
However, things changed for Kesa when she went up to Class Eight.
"My parents told me that I can not achieve anything if I do not give everything I have so I started to commit myself to training," she said.
"I train at school with the teachers and when I am at home it is my parents who continue to push me to do my best and I believe this is my biggest achievement in life.
"I ran in the 3000 metres race at the Coca-Cola Games and I was not surprised when I won gold because I knew I had trained hard for it," she said.
Kesa said the moment she received the gold was one of the happiest moments in her life as she remembered the hard work she had to endure before competing.
"I would like to have that feeling again in Samoa," she said.
Kesa said she knows it will not be an easy task to be up against the best from the Pacific.
"I know it won't be easy, but I will give it my best shot even if I have to be carried away from the finish line," she said.
One would not be surprised with the attitude Kesa has because her mother, Vasemaca Drotini was a sprinter during her young days in Ra.
Kesa said her mother hails from Nalidi, Nakorotubu in Ra.
"She was a 50 and 100 metre champion, but I have opted to run the 3000 metres," she said.
Kesa said she had been given the full support of the people of Nasaibitu as well as from her fellow students at Wainibuka Secondary School.
She has been travelling to Suva every fortnight to train and said her parents really had to scrape through thick and thin to send her for training.
She admits that while she hopes to have a bright future on the tracks, her biggest drawback is funding.
"At home my father stresses to my other six siblings that whatever we eat and drink at home we should always appreciate it because they want me to go to the Games," she said.
Before heading to Samoa, Kesa has been invited to be one of the athletes from Fiji to take part in the International Amateur Athletics Federation World meet in Osaka, Japan.
She said this would be her biggest build up before she competes at the Pacific Games.
Those willing to assist this young girl on her trip can deposit money through the ANZ Bank account number 9970023.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Monday, August 13, 2007


SHE'S following in dad's footsteps but already she has a kick to kaila to.
That's Lisa Purmodh, the petite, locked Australian head-turner who is drumming a swathe through Fiji.
She's the almost elfin super-charged power ranger perched behind the drum kit of Cool Runnings, the Aussie roots-rockers paying a visit to the land of their fathers, doing what they do best making sweet sounds.
Lisa makes no bones about where her inspiration comes from in dad James, the Fiji-born drum master she grew up watching and listening to kicking and rattling away.
Now she has her own foot firmly on the pedal, slowly but surely boom, booming away at the prospect of a Grammy somewhere ahead.
It is the thinking of a winner that makes a winner and Lisa is well on her way.
That her star is in the ascendancy is of little doubt.
She is far more than daddy's daughter basking in the glow of his hand-me-down spotlight.
In fact, in the short time she has thrown herself into music, she has already outshone dad, in some respects.
Lisa was the last Cool Runner to arrive in Fiji for this august tour, flying in from Mexico and Cuba where she was on the road with Caribbean Soul, another Down Under-based calypso-cum-reggae outfit.
"I started on the drums when I was 10," she said at the Dragon nightclub in Suva yesterday as she and dad hosted a drums and percussions clinic.
Despite the lack of courage by local musicians to learn insights into drums and percussions, the backbone of any group gelling with the bass, shown by the poor response, Cool Runnings and Lisa remained upbeat about their back-beat based sounds.
While on tour through Cuba, playing festivals all around the last bastion of communism in the free world, she visited Mexico and Barbados, from where George 'Ital' Gill, the group lead singer hails.
Of course, no one with a half-decent head on their shoulders will think of skipping Jamaica when visiting that part of the world.
Lisa was no different, visiting reggae's land of milk and honey from where the gospel of reggae sent its smoke signals to be deciphered and proclaimed all over the planet.
"I met Bob Marley's uncle while in Jamaica," she admitted.
There she met as well Winston Rodney, aka Burning Spear, one of the original rock-steady apostles of reggae and a host of dancehall, the commercial off-shoot of the spiritualistic one-drop, artistes.
Back home in Oz, she is part of Diaspora, a Afro-funk jazz outfit led by an Ivorian who hails from the impoverished nation that gave the world Alpha Blondy, in addition to Survival Reggae, a group headed by Ghanaian Afro Moses.
When not doing the rounds of clubs, gig venues or private jams, Lisa can be found at Telstra Stadium whenever the South Sydney Rabbitohs play at home.
Then she becomes one of 24 queens who drum up support for one of the two remaining founding National Rugby League clubs.
She suits up in the red and green after being head-hunted while jamming at the Basement, Sydney's premier jazz joint.
As if that's not enough, Lisa, 20, already has eyes of forming a partnership with elder sister Leah, 23, who is a dab hand on bass, a female version of Sly and Robbie and in the making.
She draws inspiration from Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Bob Marley, naturally.
She likes the prophet's Roots, rock reggae track and Babylon By Bus, the album that all self-respecting musicians can learn a thing or two from, no matter that it was set down a quarter of a century ago.
Lisa says she is grateful for the 100 per cent backing she gets from mum, a nurse back home.
Her advice to anyone who wants to do anything well is simple: "Practice, practice, practice." That's why at such a young age, she is already so very mature in the way she approaches her music.
"It is something I've always wanted to do," she says simply.
A lifeless workmate asked, does the lissome lass have anyone special in her life?
To find that out you'll have get to the Dragon any Thursday in August, wait for a break between brackets and ask her yourself. Take as many friends as you can.
Since it has nothing to do with music making, it was not something I delved into.
But if you do, be so ever polite, after all, dad James is just a conga away.
Before you say or do anything remember: Why should dads in Oz be any different from dads doting on their daughters here at home.
At the very least, you'll hear some of the coolest grooves we have had in a while, too long a while, in fact.
As for the future, we can but only urge her on and in the name of her father proudly claim her as one of ours as well.
Jah live.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Friday, August 3, 2007


Young, vocal and active are three words that perfectly describe Epeli Vakalalabure, who is devoted to building a safe and conducive environment for the youths of Fiji.

Epeli hails from the beautiful Natewa Bay, in the province of Cakaudrove.

While Natewa Bay may be one of those spots that most would want to visit, this young man wants to make Fiji a place where youths are respected for who they are and what they stand for.
The 23-year-old is the youngest worker contracted by the United Nations Children Education Fund as a consultant to coordinate and facilitate regional youth workshops.
Epeli comes from a family of two sisters and three brothers, all of whom support his work and says there is nothing as rewarding as working for youths.
"I was educated at Veiuto Primary School and then Suva Grammar School,"he said.
"I was always interested in youth issues when I was in secondary school and I was blessed when I joined youth organisations dealing with issues concerning the youths of today."
Epeli certainly became aware of issues affecting youths when he was chosen as Speaker of The House during the Youth Parliament in 2004.
"I guess that was the biggest opportunity for me as a student, to listen and, at the same time, make decisions on the issues tabled in the Youth Parliament."
As soon as he left school, Epeli joined the Scripture Union In Schools, becoming active in organising rallies and camps around the country.
"SUIS is a Christian organisation that helps build Christian values in primary and secondary students,"he said.
Epeli is usually involved in visiting schools and promoting the ideals of SUIS.
In addition, he is responsible for bringing members together, especially during school breaks. "From this, I have been able to meet thousands of youths from around the country and we are able to share our different backgrounds and the problems that we face in our daily lives,"he said.
"When I joined UNICEF I thought this would be the biggest break in my career because it is an arm of the United Nations that primarily looks into youths.
"It was a step up the ladder in the work that I do, but it was not only faith-oriented it was a holistic approach to youths."
Epeli said it took a youth to fully understand the problems, difficulties and struggles that other youths faced.
"Because we are youths, those who face problems feel safe to share with us their experiences because we are of the same age group,"he said.
He said it was always a joy to see a young person being able to pick up the pieces and fight on to prosper in life.
Epeli once represented the youths of Fiji to the World Youth Festival in Spain.
He is part of the Young People Concerned Network, a group that was vocal during the December 5 takeover.
"The group had been very vocal during the political crisis, advocating young people's rights and democracy,"he said.
He is part of the Citizens Constitutional Youth Forum, saying joining all those organisations had rewarded him.
"It has taught me to be more confident, it has taught me to know my rights and it has given me the skills on how to go about communicating with youths in doing advocacy work,"he said.
He said his work was never boring.
"My advice to young people is to never give up and always have hope.
"Every youth has potential and only and when one tries it out then he or she will be able to know where his or her strength lies,
"he said.