A member of the deaf community in Fiji expresses his gratitude following the launch of the national anthem video.
The University of the South Pacific’s Faculty of Arts, Law & Education (FALE) in collaboration with the Fiji Association of the Deaf and Deaf Consultancy Pacific launched two videos, “Deaf Awareness: Fiji National Anthem in Fiji Sign Language” and “Intersectionality: Unique Lives with Diverse Identities” at the Laucala Campus on 8 October 2019.
In her keynote address, Dr Kedrayate stated that, “this is a huge breakthrough not only for USP or the deaf community but for the nation because this is the kind of awareness that we need to create awareness out there.”
“We are here because we believe in equality and inclusiveness,” she said.
She said that for the first time in the history of USP and Fiji, the videos are a culmination of the vision of Krishneer Sen, one of Fiji’s young leaders and deaf and disability rights advocate.
Krishneer directed the production of both videos to promote equality of all Fijians regardless of disability, gender or sexuality.
FALE staff Dr Yoko Kanemasu and Eliki Drugunalevu teamed up with Krishneer to produce these videos, with the support of the Faculty Dean, Dr Akanisi Kedrayate. The partnership emerged late 2019 and continued throughout this year.
It eventually became a partnership between Krishneer’s social enterprise Deaf Consultancy Pacific, Fiji Association of the Deaf, and USP.
The videos feature Krishneer as well as Eve Naqio, a young advocate of deaf, disability and LGBT rights.
The national anthem video was filmed in locations representing the cultural diversity and beauty of the country, including the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Samabula Temple, Toorak Mosque and the Uto ni Yalo.
The intersectionality video features Eve’s experience of discrimination as deaf and transgender as well as a message of equality.
The video launch coincides with both the International Week of the Deaf (last week of September) and Fiji Day. Many people cooperated to prepare the launch including student volunteers who decorated the venue.
Ms Makarita Vuli, President of the Fiji Association of the Deaf said it was a proud moment for her and she thanked USP and Deaf Consultancy Pacific for the huge initiative.
Krishneer, who was born deaf, explained how he missed out on the sense of pride every time the national anthem was being sung.
As a kid, I used to watch national anthem video on TV and people singing it verbally. I couldn’t hear them and feel the pride. I used to wish that I could see and feel the same way, hearing people would hear and feel. Sometimes, a lot is lost in translation and a lot more goes missing for those who are Deaf. The meaning of national anthem was ambiguous to us and this caused our feelings and pride to be disconnected,” he added.
He stated that like the diverse ethnic groups singing in their own languages, he was privileged to say that launching this accessible video with sign language version is a milestone achievement for the native sign language users which allows the Deaf community, one of the most marginalised linguistic minority of Fiji, to express freely with their natural language.
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