Unflappable Miss Fiji causes a stir
If Miss New Zealand thinks she is hard done by thanks to a shove from Miss Malawi, she should give thanks she is not Miss Fiji whose home town crowd is calling her a real turkey.
To the astonishment of many people in her home archipelago, Miss Fiji, Koini Vakaloloma, dressed up as an owl in this year's Miss World finals in Mongolia.
The New Zealander behind Miss Fiji, Andhy Blake, says he was "thinking outside the box" when he had Vakaloloma dressed up as an owl - but hundreds on Fiji's social media are aghast.
Not least because, as many indigenous Fijians have pointed out, the owl is an omen of no good in their culture.
Miss Fiji has been pretty much a fiasco this year after the first queen, 16-year-old school girl Torika Watters, lost her crown amid outrage that she was too white and not indigenous enough.
Watters was selected by a judging panel that included New Zealand model Rachel Hunter.
Blake managed to get her out by claiming she was too young to go this year, and installed runner up Vakaloloma, 27.
With that row over, Vakaloloma and Blake left for Mongolia - and then startling people by leading a group of girls out on stage and performing a meke or war dance in an owl suit.
As the surprise grew, Blake said he devised the dance and costume to symbolise Fijian culture.
"Fashion is not understood and accepted by many, so too is an entire nation that really has not agreed on what is the rightful attire used as a national costume," Blake has said on Facebook.
"I guess there will always be an outcry when we do things outside the box - however we promoted Fiji in a rather unique and positive way."
One indigenous Fijian responded: "allow me to just point out that natives would not dare even look at an owl, never mind mix it with meke to avoid serious witchcraft implications... Her national dance is to flap her arms?"
In the Fiji Sun, Fijian blogger Graham Davis complained that Vakaloloma made "a right royal turkey of herself and of her country... What on earth does this have to do with Fiji?"
He says it was so high camp she looked like one of the dancers at the Folies Bergere in Paris. Or some transsexual dive in New York.
Hundreds of people in Fiji have taken to social media over what one person said was an "embarrassment to the nation".
Others said: "I felt so ashamed being a Fiji Islander. A simple meke would have sufficed", another "Looks like a Fiji junglee murgi (wild chicken); makes very good curry". Another in reference to Fiji's military rulers said "Better put that costume on Blake and make dance across the drill square..."
One said Blake was from New Zealand and it was part of a plot by New Zealand to embarrass Fiji. Another: "If he had any brains, he would have known that, an owl flattering her wings to the beat and chat of Fijian lali and lyrics is not only offensive to us Native Fijians but very insulting."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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