“What would you like to do if money was no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?” Ask these Alan Watts questions to a someone living along the Suva-Nausori corridor on a Tuesday morning who is bustling about packing school lunches, getting the kids off to school and then themselves to work before 8.30am, you’ll get a scowling tsk in that inimitable Fijian way that means piss-off. After all who has time to think about such irrelevant questions when you’ve got the rent, your Courts hire purchase instalments and that unjustifiable EFL bill to pay!
What is The Genda Project?
The Genda Project precisely strives to make Fijians answer these very questions they think they don’t have time for. Often mistaken for ‘gender’, Genda is a hindi word for the marigold flower.
Today while we are connected to all aspects of life via technology, modern travel and a freedom to pursue things not so possible few decades back, many of us have lost that connection to ourselves. Be it career expectations, family obligations, civic duties or just living the norm - it's very easy to get caught in the whirlwinds of life. As we grow up, our lives are not defined by what makes us happy but what is right or wrong. Very little importance is given to this concept of ‘self’ and ‘happiness’ in our Fijian societies. We are a very community-based society and are always taught to put others before ourselves and give selflessly.
And ours is a culture where we don't really talk about...stuff. While Fijians are natural conversation starters. We are open, friendly people – always ready with a smile. We all love a talanoa session around the grog bowl and nothing bonds us together like rugby - we just don’t do deep! A lot of topics are still subject to family pride, cultural and religious taboos and just mere pettiness of outdated mindsets. Living in the Pacific, tucked in a Fijian suburban community, most of us are never even compelled to question ourselves and who we really are. Our surnames, our relationships, our faiths, our cultures, our jobs, our social media bios are definitive enough.
What Do We Do?
Started in 2015, The Genda Project is a Fijian initiative that creates spaces and platforms for live story-telling and ideas-sharing to open up conversations that some of our people didn’t know how and where to have. Currently there are 3 talk platforms; GendaConnections (story-telling), GendaDISRUPT (ideas-sharing) & GendaDiaspora (for the Fijian diaspora community living over the seas) and while each talk platform is different when it comes to the objective of the talks, they all have one thing in common. Our talks challenge people of all ages to venture out of their comfort zone, question themselves, question others. It’s a space to get inspired, discover the possibilities, connect to others and ultimately to your own self.
The whole philosophy behind The Genda Project is about “Finding You”; owning yourself, defining your own happiness. We believe everyone has a story that one day must be told. And when we choose to stand, own who we are and tell our story, we empower others like us to find their voices.
In our pursuit to empower Fijians to find themselves, find their happiness, it’s always been an integral part in the way we curate our talks to help shape the definition of who we are as individuals, as Fijians. The stories we share on our platforms is the narrative of the Fiji now. The individuals who are invited to speak on platforms do not conform or fit in the boxes of race, religion, politics and international agendas that Fiji is often portrayed as. Our audiences connect to our talks as they find representations of themselves in the voices they hear on our platforms. In a way, the Genda talks have become a documentation of our Fijian stories.
What is Genda Diaspora Talks all About?
While we strive to continue challenging norms on our platforms in Fiji, as we move forward we also acknowledge the many untold stories that have left the shores of Viti. Our 3rd platform, Genda Diaspora is live talk platform for the Fijian diaspora community living overseas.
Our Fijians of the World talk series is currently touring Sydney, Auckland & Brisbane and feature individuals with Fijian connections now settled in their new cities. The speakers share their stories and experiences on our theme “Home” and how they define themselves in their new countries.
Our next Fijians of the World Genda talks is happening in Auckland, New Zealand!
When: Saturday 5th October, 2019 from 2.30pm - 6.00pm
Where: Mangere Arts Centre - ngā tohu o uenuku in Auckland, New Zealand.
Tickets: $30pp via Eventfinda
Discounts: 10% off on group bookings of 10 and 50% off children under 15.
Inclusions: Choice of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and snacks.
What to Expect at a Genda Talks event?
Coming to a Genda talks event can be one of the most stimulating experiences one has been through! We encourage you to bring your children. We always say at The Genda Project that attending a Genda talks is an investment in yourself!
While the talks and current series will feature 8 amazing individuals and their stories, the bigger ultimate question the talks asks the audience is “Who are you? And are you living your best purposeful and happy life?”