The San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday evening hosted the new prime minister of the Republic of Fiji, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, in an event at Yoshi’s.
Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, known as Frank Bainimarama, thanked the chamber for its support and previous trade missions in the last two years. Fiji is an island nation in the South West Pacific, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand.
In his remarks, Prime Minister Bainimarama recognized the Fillmore as a historic jazz center of the 1940s and 1950s. He said he looks forward to building on the trade missions established by the African American Chamber on trips in 2011 and 2012.
“We are moving ahead in Fiji as one people and not separated with our new constitution,” he said.
“Now Fijians can enjoy one identity and equal opportunity and today I am proud to announce that
Fiji is a more just and compassionate society as we strengthen the economy,” he said.
While in the U.S., the prime minister plans to meet with the 69th United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Chamber President Fred Jordan welcomed the prime minister.
“Fiji is a place of paradise, and we are fortunate to have the prime minister here,” said Jordan. “I’ve travelled all over the world and Fiji is a welcoming place, especially for African Americans.”
Supervisor London Breed expressed her hope of developing a strong relationship with Fiji. “We are excited about future trade relations and a sister city relationship between our two locations,” she said.
Added Paul Henderson, who represented Mayor Ed Lee, “We welcome the prime minister and want to celebrate his new position.”
Entrepreneurs Shonda and Frazier Scott and Myles and Harriett Stevens showed a video presentation of their last trade mission to Fiji. Other attendees included Will and Maxine Ussery, Conway and Leslie Jones, Myles and Harriette Stevens, Kali O’Ray, Ken Johnson and Barry Dow.
Fiji has one of the most developed economies in the Pacific, with an abundance of forest, mineral and fish resources. The country’s foreign exchanges are from tourism and sugar exports.
In a coup in 2006, Commodore Frank Bainimarama seized power. When the High Court ruled in 2009 that the military leadership was unlawful, President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, whom the military had retained as the nominal Head of State, formally abrogated the Constitution and reappointed Bainimarama.
Later in 2009, Iloilo was replaced as President by Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. After years of delays, a democratic election was held on Sept. 17 of this year.
Bainimarama’s FijiFirst party won with 59 percent of the vote, and the election was accepted as fair by international observers.
For more information on the next SF African American Chamber’s Fiji trade mission, visit www.sfaacc.org