I ENJOYED my teaching years especially in the teaching of idioms during English class. This was particularly interesting as we, the iTaukei use a lot of metaphors and similes and most of our conversations and soliloquies, if you may call it that, are laden with figures of speech.
The origins of each idiom is often the cause of great debate and it is quite rewarding as a teacher when you hear your students using metaphors, similes and idioms in everyday language. It is a given that now and again there will be some who overuse or misuse idioms but as an educator it was nice to see others interject to try and help the over enthusiastic language novice. At the end of the year, if students were using more of what they learnt in class, then it would have been a fruitful year.
One that was used quite often is the idiom "If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, then Mohammed will go to the mountain".
Legend says that when the Prophet Mohammed was asked to give proof of his teachings, he ordered Mount Safa to come to him. When the mountain did not comply the Prophet raised his hands to the heavens and said "God is merciful, had my words been obeyed the mountain would have fallen on us to our destruction. I will therefore go to the mountain and thank God for his mercy over a stiff-necked generation". Mohammed wanted to show his God's greatness by making him move the mountain but when the mountain did not move, this act still showed God's greatness so Mohammed moved to the mountain instead to worship his great God.
This idiom has been used many times to also mean that when the mountain or difficult situation can not be moved or solved, then we may need to move to the mountain or find alternative ways of dealing with the mountain or problem rather then just sitting and waiting for the problem to solve itself.
Students know that the mountains they face at the end of the year, which is exams will not necessarily move for them, but they can still tackle the mountain by moving to it and approaching the exams by studying hard and using other complimentary learning forms such as internet research, library research or peer tutoring.
In recent times the women of this country have been relating to this idiom more as they have not moved the mountain but have moved to the mountain.
What mountain are you talking about and my answer to that would be the mountain of lack of understanding, misunderstanding, misinformation of women about the current constitutional process. Instead of just sitting and waiting for the mountain or ill-informed women to come, trainers and civic educators from the National Council of Women Fiji and Soqosoqo Vakamarama iTaukei have actually moved to the rugged terrains of Fiji to tackle the mountain. In recent months women have gone to various parts of Fiji to conduct civic education. Women have no funds but have gone to the donors and the mountain of no funds have been tackled. Women have limited knowledge so the mountain of limited knowledge has been tackled through the training of trainers specifically targeting women trainers
Women in the communities have been limited in their understanding but civic education trainers have held consultations, meetings and trainings with women all over the country to help them gain a better understanding of the political changes happening in our country. In Fiji women have been reached in Rotuma, Rabi, Yasawa, Taveuni, Qamea, Macuata, Bua, Cakaudrove, Ba, Tavua, Vuda, Ra, Nadroga, Serua, Nadi, Tailevu to name a few. More training is to be conducted and women have been true to the saying that if the mountain will not come then Mohammed will move to the mountain.
If this was not enough women have also been lobbying internationally for support to help women be better prepared and more effectively reached and in the past week the National Council of Women president has also been holding discussions with organisations to prepare women in their political aspirations as they prepare for the next elections, while attending an international meeting for women in Korea. The meeting, which was the General Assembly of the International Council of Women, was attended by more than hundred women leaders from all over the world.
The president did not wait for international help to come but was out lobbying for support and in the next General Assembly in Turkey in 2015, it is hoped that women in Fiji will be better represented at all levels of government.
Again Mohammed or in this case the president of National Council of Women Fiji, did not wait for the mountain but went to it instead.
We are at an exciting time in Fiji's history. We can wait for changes or we can make the changes. We cannot continue to sit on our laurels and expect things to be done for us but we must go out and help our women by informing them of their rights, roles and the route to achieve their aspirations. We want temporary special measures to be included in all our policies but if this concept is not understood by all then they will not be able to support it. There is a mountain out there and its name is not Safa but misinformation. Misinformation of women will not change to information relevant to women unless we go out there and do something about it.
What are you going to do about it? As for me, I believe that "If the mountain cannot come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the mountain".
* Fay Volatabu is the general secretary of the National Council of Women. The views expressed are hers and not of this newspaper.