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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 30)—A cabinet minister believes culture has the potential for nation-building.

Minister for Multi-Ethnic Affairs and National Reconciliation and Unity, Ratu Meli Saukuru said in a multi-cultural nation, it was important for the people to live with others.

Ratu Meli made the comments when opening the new Multi-Ethnic Cultural Centre in Nadi last night.

"It is important that every community learns its culture and practices their customs and traditions," he said.

He said most times, foreign culture had a great impact on the local culture.

"And I fear to say that it can often have a lot of negative influence on us if we are not protecting and managing our own cultures well," he said.

Ratu Meli said the Government, through the Department of Multi-Ethnic Affairs and Department of Culture and Heritage helped all the communities to protect and manage their cultures for their future generations.

Ratu Meli said we must preserve our cultural heritage with all its richness and pass it down from generation to generation without losing its essence and originality.

He said that there were six multi-ethnic cultural centres in the country.

Ratu Meli, who had just returned from opening the cultural centre in Labasa last week, said one sure way towards a peaceful and harmonious multi-racial coexistence was to learn from one another's culture.

"Knowing languages of others helps us easily communicate with them, understand them better, resolve any differences with understanding and make friends to live a happy life in peace and harmony."

"To like and love different languages, styles of clothes and food simply means we appreciate other cultures."

Ratu Meli emphasised building bridges of understanding between the communities with the love, liking and appreciation of diverse cultures.

July 31, 2006

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