We were so privileged to meet Anna Walker in Melbourne the other week to begin the Fiji Oral History programme, with the generous support of the Fiji High Commissioner in Australia Mr Yogesh Punja, Dr Kirstie Close-Barry, Dr Tamarisi Yabaki, and others. During our visit Anne handed over some historical photographs and documentation of the important work she did at the Fiji YWCA, and spoke at length on her experiences and the role of the YWCA as an incubator/catalyst for multiculturalism in education, development, the arts, women’s issues, children’s issues, and human rights. It started with the YWCA kindergarten which was the first multicultural kindergarten, and then went on to play a leading role in bringing down the race barriers in many sphere’s of life in colonial Fiji. For example, at one time the Suva basketball body wouldn’t admit non white teams so the YWCA organised another league for people of all backgrounds. In no time the new league had around 25 teams and the old league had about 6, in the end the two merged and the practice of race based admittance was done away with.
Anne’s full interview will be put up soon on the National Archives of Fiji youtube channel. Fiji’s history is full of powerful stories, we hope to capture these stories and “fill in the gaps” with our Oral History programme so that we can all benefit from the varied and enlightening lessons of previous generations.