Seeing the backlash directed at the Miss World Fiji franchise holder Andhy or rightly Andrew Blake from the public at large is quite discouraging.
No matter if most of it was largely limited to social networking sites.
Sadly though, most of it were slanderous, malicious, racist and downright stupid. Most of these comments were progenies of culture vultures whose myopic views about the Fijian culture are solely based on stereotypes and sadly too, on ethnicity.
Yes it was an 'owl' costume and not a 'chicken' costume as the jokes go.
Yes, it is an original design and not just your run of the mill Westernised skirt and top or frock designs adapted to 'tapa' wear. And yes, it was outlandish, but we should count ourselves lucky that the only thing not covered was her legs.
For you culture vultures, many hundreds of years ago, it was more than just legs that was not covered. For the others that were covered up a hundred years ago, this is not scandalous.
Was Andhy way off the mark? I don't think so.
Andhy did tell the whole of Fiji that Koini Vakaloloma's dance costume will be based on the owl. Yes he did.
It was on the Monday of July 2 of this year when he told a Fiji Times reporter just before he was due to leave for China with Koini.
The article was published in The Fiji Times, July 3 edition where Andhy reportedly said: "Meanwhile, Mr Blake said Miss Fiji's national costume would symbolise the guardian or owl, a unique part of Fijian culture. He said owls had played guiding roles to chiefs in times past." Our sub editors even sought clarifications over this point before the article was allowed to print.
The story was reproduced electronically in other websites apart from The Fiji Times' very own. To be fair on Andhy, we were warned.
For the proponents of the 'buiniga' looks and again, those culture vultures who think the owl is not part of the Fijian culture, think again. The iTaukeis have always thought the owl is harbinger of death, and so too Fijians of Indian origin.
In fact, for the Fijians of Indian origins, the owl is the vahana or vehicle for the goddess of wealth Lakshmi, and if it appears, it is a warning against distrust, isolation and even selfishness.
The owl is very much part of the Fijian culture be it who we are. To be honest I don't see any reason to be jumping up and down over this owl costume issue whereas no one jumped up and down when Fiji Airways revealed their new logo last week.
A rustic tapa circular design. I thought the Air Pacific logo was a very good representation of our multiculturalism. One nation, many people.
And so too the owl. I imagined none would be more proud than the people of the Ra province had Andhy called it a chicken costume instead of calling it an owl suit. How about the totemic animals of Kadavu and Nadroga?
Would anyone be making fun of that now? And mind you, that owl costume was one of the eight countries chosen from the 117 countries represented at the Miss World pageant that was chosen to do the dance of the world. Shouldn't we be proud, or do we have feathery eyes?
Even at the Miss World competition itself, the women who represented their own countries had other costumes that is beyond our comprehension and our understanding of their own cultures.
For Miss Vietnam to be brandishing a bow and arrow and wearing a head dress straight out of an American Wild West movie, is far-fetched from the eloquent and fine silk dresses and gold jewelleries her ancestors were renown for.
That is before the advent of communism in that country. A photo showing the backstage of the Miss World pageant stage in China showed a plethora of multi coloured feathers adorning the contestants.
Andhy is right, as he put in his last public communication with the world, saying: "What a commotion at home with our national costume and from the many who only viewed Miss World for the 1st time in their lives ha! vinaka Viti x"
Obviously the finer workings of the Miss World pageant is particularly new to us and rightly said so by Andhy.
We misbehaved and badly too I might add. All our criticisms against Andhy make us look like a bunch of backwater country bumpkins that has just seen neon lights for the first time.
And I am more afraid that there is a feeling of oclophobia amongst us, and I pity the poor owls. Even though all comments were targeted at Andhy by association, we've also being critical of Koini.
What would the poor girl think of her own countrymen?
And to quote Koini from her Miss World profile page, ""Do what makes you happy, be with those that make you smile, laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live."