The Fijian Tourism Expo (FTE) 2015 kicked-off with an official opening ceremony at the Sofitel Fiji Beach Resort & Spa today to welcome overseas buyers, industry partners, as well as local and international media to the event.
Hosted by local Inbound Operator Pacific Destinations, the ceremony began with an ancient chant from the island of Lakeba – the traditional home of the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr James Sowane.
The highlight of the ceremony was the debut of the song “Ancient Lands” which had been composed especially for this occasion.
Written by Mr Sailasa Tora, – a ‘daunivuai’ or traditional poet, composer and choreographer – the song was the result of months of soul-searching and was dedicated to the people of Fiji, Rotuma and to the Sovereign God.
“I wanted to give credit to the people of Fiji who I see as the real ‘vanua’. Despite the many hiccups that our country has faced over the years, the love between our people is still strong,” Mr Tora says.
“This song is a celebration of that love and it is the expression of love that continuously draws people to our shores – more than the sun, sand and sea,” he adds.
Mr Tora, who began writing the song lyrics in March this year, collaborated with vocalist Ms Natasha Mar and Fijian rap artist Mr Dave Lavaki, to bring it to life.
The trio were joined on stage by the Saunaka Youth Choir who have been undergoing vocal training with conductor Mr Damiano Togaivau for over a month. Musical arrangement of the song was done by Mr Calvin Rose.
This message of love and unity was echoed in one of the most touching moments of the ceremony; the dance duet of a Fijian warrior and Indian dancer – an exclusive to FTE. Set to traditional lali and tabla music, both dancers began the performance as solo dancers showcasing their distinct dance styles which culminated in a fantastic fusion of the two.
The symbolism of how two diverse cultures could work together to create something quite beautiful left many in the audience – especially the local audience – reflective and teary-eyed.
Programme Director and renowned playwright Mr Larry Thomas, who coordinated the opening ceremony performance says that, “the dance had first been performed in 1997 as part of a larger show and had received standing ovations at the time.”
Other performers included a beautiful traditional choreographed piece by another of Fiji’s talented dancers, Ms Ateca Ravuvu.
The three-day FTE 2015 is currently being held at the Sheraton Fiji Resort & Spa in Nadi. The expo ends on Thursday 18 June, 2015 – with a short closing ceremony followed by Beach Party Cocktail event at the Sheraton Fiji beachfront.