23 July, 2017, 12:00 am
I FIRST met Semi Koroi in the studios of Radio Fiji in the ’70s. He was hired as an apprentice radio announcer and when I was first introduced to him I felt that there was something special about Semi’s bearing.
I would learn later what it was. Not only was he highly intelligent with a sharp wit, he was one of the few people I knew at the time that could speak three languages fluently — iTaukei, English and Hindustani. His Hindi, I’m ashamed to say, was better than mine. Although it didn’t bug me I was more intrigued by this dashing ex-Marist boy.
When Semi spoke, people listened. And it’s no surprise that he became, “The Voice” or “OB” as many people loved to call him.
I had the immense privilege of working closely with Semi. When it came to “voicing” a commercial script he was not only readily available; he gave it that “oomph” that made people sit up and take note. And it came as no surprise that many clients of Radio Fiji would single out Semi Koroi to “voice” their advertisements. He was that good!
Semi loved the challenge of the microphone in the solitary confines of the studio — spinning his favourite songs and being the friendly “voice” in people’s homes. His “smile” and genuine love for his profession came through the mike lighting up your day.
When the Ports Authority of Fiji wanted a time capsule produced, the job fell on the shoulders of Semi and myself. It took us some weeks to prepare but when it was finished we both sat back and felt satisfied that we had done a good job. It is Semi’s voice that graces this unique time capsule which I believe lies buried in the foundations of the Ports Authority of Fiji headquarters in Flagstaff.
Semi not only excelled at school, he was also part of the victorious 1st XI Marist soccertTeam along with John Grey. Semi’s soccer skills were legendary. His left foot shuffle took some beating and the power with which he unleashed his shots were explosive. And pity the poor goal-keeper at the other end of it.
Had Semi been serious about soccer, he could easily have represented Suva or even Fiji. But Semi preferred not to bask in the limelight. In fact he was quite a shy person, humble to the core and generous with his time and his talents.
After we’d finish producing a commercial we’d settle down for a chat. It was during these times that I became aware of his standing in the village where he came from – he was a chief but you would never have guessed it because of the way he was.
When I learned of his recent passing I was deeply saddened. My condolences to his family and friends – and especially to the many “grog swipers” in the West who loved to share a bilo with a truly remarkable human being. Rest in peace Brother Semi.