Why did festivals proliferate in all urban centers in Fiji in the late 1950s and 1960s to the extent that one official talked about "festival mania"? Today the Hibiscus Festival in Suva, the Sugar Festival in Lautoka, the Bula Festival in Nadi, and various other festivals have become natural parts of the national culture. However, when the festivals were started they were constructed as tourist attractions that should lure tourists to Fiji. Thus, the development of the festivals from being constructed tourist events to become part of the national culture points to some of the unexpected ways in which tourism links up with national identity. From 1950 to independence in 1970 three parallel processes of change took place in Fiji: Tourism became a major industry thus alleviating the economic dependence on sugar-production, urbanization created a new urban space for social interaction and public discussion, and a national identity had to be created as it became apparent that Fiji would cease to be a British colony and become independent. In this paper I will discuss how these processes of change condensed into "festival mania" focusing on the years from 1950 to independence in 1970.
The Contemporary Pacific – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Feb 1, 2000