Are you in Fiji
Between macho and mana - society in Fiji
“Are you fat!” When Monika Oldenburg sounds this sentence on one of her first larger private invitations, it is a slap in the face for her. And at the same time an example of how strange and different Fijian society is. “I first heard from my husband that this was one of the biggest compliments,” says the German, who has lived in Nadi for 10 years. As the head of our on-site agency, she first had to slowly adjust to a culture in which so many things are so different.
Strict rules & many faux pas
When asked about the typical role models of Fijian society, our agency boss answers lightly that all Fijian men are machos. Outwardly at least. Because within their own four walls, women, especially in cities, are definitely allowed to contribute their opinion. Nevertheless, age-old rules apply: Men are served food first, women are sometimes not allowed to have any contact with relatives. The distribution of roles between women who look after the household and children and men who earn a living remains unbroken. Just like the hierarchy in the village community. Every place has a “chief” whose word is law.
Punctuality for guests
What travelers experience as extremely relaxing and stressful can sometimes put the German mentality to the test. A “no” will never be heard in Fiji just out of politeness. A “maybe”, however, often and that can mean anything. Conversely, this also means: Nobody in Fiji is angry if you are eternally late and everyone is patiently waiting for the straggler.
“But everything that has to do with guests or tourists works like clockwork,” reports Monika Oldenburg from her agency. A mixture of respect for strangers, especially whites, and a good education make the happy islanders warm and reliable hosts. An all-round lovable and respectful society in which everyone can say out loud: “You are fat!” And in which ignorant but eager strangers are taken by the hand in order to understand this completely alien culture.
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