Fiji was officially granted independence on 10 October 1970, after 96 years of British colonial rule. On the same day in 1874, the Deed of Cession was signed by King Seru Epenisa Cakobau to commence British rule in Fiji. Both the cession of control and independence is celebrated among Fijians. Thus October 10 is a significant date in the country’s history that is commemorated every year with a week of festivities and celebrations. Almost every town and city in the archipelago organizes its own events in honor of the occasion, which include military parades, speeches, performances, and street parties.

The Process of Fijian Independence: A Story of Negotiation and Compromise

A constitutional conference was held in London in July 1965 to discuss constitutional changes with a view to introducing responsible government (Delaibatiki, 2015). Indo-Fijians, led by A. D. Patel, demanded the immediate introduction of full self-government, with a fully elected legislature, to be elected by universal suffrage on a common voters' roll. These demands were vigorously rejected by the ethnic Fijian delegation, who still feared the loss of control over natively owned land and resources should an Indo-Fijian-dominated government come to power. The British made it clear, however, that they were determined to bring Fiji to self-government and eventual independence. Realizing that they had no choice, Fiji's chiefs decided to negotiate for the best deal they could get.

The following five years saw compromises from both the Indo-Fijian and ethnic representatives which involved the forming of a cabinet system of government in 1967, with Ratu Kamisese Mara as the first Chief Minister.

Prince Charles (left) formally cedes control of Fiji to Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara on October 10, 1970
The Fijian Flag is hoisted in place of the Union Jack for the first time

Now that Britain deemed Fiji capable of self-government, Prince Charles who represented the Queen, handed over the instruments of Independence to the Chief Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. “The second unique event in our history was the attainment of our independence. Unique in the sense that there was no demand, no struggle, no bloodshed – but through dialogue and consensus as demonstrated by the mood in which we celebrated our independence” he said.

As the Union Jack was lowered for the last time in the presence of Prince Charles, and the military band beat the retreat and played the Last Post, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara continued “Ladies and gentlemen, let us salute the Union Jack. The symbol that has governed this country for the last 96 years is coming down for the very last time. We are going to be masters of our destiny. We have come of age. Let us say farewell and ni sa moce to Her Majesty the Queen and to the Union Jack”. (Delaibatiki, 2015)

2022 Celebrations

Fiji Day is a national holiday in the country during which leave is given (Sahu, 25 September 2022). Fiji Day’s main events take place in the town of Levuka, which was the site where the deed of cession was signed. These events honor Fiji’s rich history and also contribute to the local tourism industry of the nation as many foreign tourists like to visit this country during this time of the festival.

In the capital city of Suva, citizens, dignitaries, and local leaders convene in Albert Park to listen to addresses by the President and Prime Minister of Fiji. The park is a historic site named after Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, to whom the country was ceded back then.

Aside from these festivities, Fiji Day also involves military parades, the ceremonial firing of cannons, and the singing of the national anthem. Flag hoisting ceremonies also take place throughout the country with many marches organized by schools and colleges around the country.

The other communities inhabiting the numerous Fiji islands stage performances paying homage to their cultures. Fijians celebrate this nationwide holiday by dressing up in traditional garb and reenacting the events of October 10, 1874.

Gift-giving is at the heart of Fijian culture, and Fiji Day is no different. It’s customary for Fijians to give large quantities of food in community ceremonies. Other gifts include whale teeth and bark cloth. Delicious Fijian cuisine is also greatly enjoyed by Fijians during this day.


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  3. Office Holidays (2021). Fiji Day in Fiji 2021. Retrieved from:
  4. Sahu, V. (25 September 2022). Fiji Day 2022: History, Significance and Celebrations. Retrieved from: