National Geographic : 1950 Jul
Coconut Palms Nod Feathery Heads over Victoria Parade, Suva's Main Street Post office (right), steamship companies, and other business firms face the Triangle, a park in the center of the Fijian capital. Suva's water front, crowded with interisland vessels, lies beyond the buildings. A stone monument (left) marks the spot where land was first sold to settlers, a few years after "King" Thakombau ceded the islands to Britain in 1874, after offering them to the United States (page 127). Inside a white-painted schoolroom rows of blue-frocked Fijian girls with lustrous eyes, round dusky faces, and hair cut short for sanitary reasons greeted me in English. In their rapt expressions I read intelligence, gentleness, and a whole world of laughter. The gay childish drawings chalked on the walls were so like the ones my own small son once drew that a lump came into my throat. As I turned from the questioning eyes to the tree-bordered grounds with their lawns and flower beds, they began to sing. I smiled dazedly at the magical music, and smiles radiated back from every shiny little face. In the dormitories intricate Biblical texts were worked in bright cottons on pillows adorning iron beds that had once belonged to the American Occupation Forces. Some schools were outfitted with mosquito nets from the same source; at other places chil dren slept on flax mats on the coral floor of the reed-thatched burrs. While I had tea and sandwiches with the principal, the children decked themselves in grass skirts, flowers, and paper streamers for a welcome dance. Smooth brown limbs moved rhythmically, and lithe bodies swayed to the accompaniment of clapping hands.