Chaudhry's son marries Tui Lau descendant in Fiji

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sachindra Chaudhry, the youngest son of Fiji Labour Party leader and former Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, married Marian Ma'afu, a descendant of Fiji's first Tui Lau Enele Ma'afu, in a Hindu ceremony at Wailailai Temple in Ba yesterday. A Christian wedding will follow at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Suva next week.

Intermarriage between Fiji's indigenous and Indian communities is uncommon. Speaking for the family, Chaudhry's elder brother, Rajendra, said that the union was for love and that nothing political should be read into it. The union was a personal love-match between two who had known each other for more than six years, he insisted, and dismissed media speculation that the wedding was intended as a statement about uniting the two races, whose historical, cultural, religious, and political divisions have defined Fiji for generations. It was a proud day for the family.

Ma'afu's ancestor, Enele Ma'afu, was a Tongan prince who was exiled to Fiji following disagreements within the Tongan royal family. He conquered Taveuni and the Lau Islands, taking the title of Tui Lau (King of Lau). He later participated, with the Fijian King Cakobau, in the ceding of the islands to the United Kingdom in 1874. The Tui Lau title has since been held by such noted individuals as Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna (considered modern Fiji's first statesman) and Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, independent Fiji's first Prime Minister and second President.

Chaudhry, who traces his ancestry to the state of Haryana, in north India, became the first of his race to be elected Prime Minister in 1999. He was deposed a year later, in the Fiji coup of 2000.