Melody of life, Ju Ben says

Peni Roqara at Thurston Gardens. Picture: JONA KONATACI

By day, Peni Roqara is a lab assistant at the Fiji Sugar Corporation. But when he gets home, he sheds his lab coat and reaches for pen and paper.

As the sun sets over the Sugar City, Roqara, who goes by the stage name Ju Ben, gets busy writing poems about real life issues and the struggles of young iTaukei men.

When he heard about the Domo Vou Talei song contest, he put his poem to a beat and came up with an iTaukei rap called ‘Kidava’.

“I developed an interest in composing poetry while attending Ratu Kadavulevu School in Tailevu six years ago,” he said.

“Writing songs to me was like poetry, it made me share about my personal life and the struggles I went through in the lyrics of songs.

“Kidava is about our lives and it’s about how a lot of people tell us what to do with our own lives and how we have to live our lives according to what they say.

“I don’t buy into that ideology. “We should just live our life the way we want to but we must be responsible.

“We can’t be sleeping around and doing all that stuff if we want to improve ourselves – we have to start doing the right thing and doing it now. Ju Ben’s song also speaks about how tough life can be and the importance of keeping it real no matter the circumstance you are in.

“I was brought up in a struggling background and I also support my parents financially.”

Roqara said he was excited when he received a call from the organisers of the Domo Vou Talei competition. “My wife told me about the competition, she knew I was writing songs and told me to try it out.”

He said he hoped to gain exposure through the competition.

“With the Domo Vou Talei competition I just hope to learn how to improve myself in writing and singing, “I want to be able to continue rapping in iTaukei about the reality of what’s happening around me.”

The sole breadwinner in his family said he was excited to showcase his talent at the Woodstock Uprising Music Festival on July 9.

“For me Domo Vou Talei is not about the prizemoney – it’s about being able to show my talent and skills in writing and poetry.

“Because we only get this opportunity once in a lifetime. “My advice to other upcoming musicians is to keep writing, keep singing, and believe in yourself.”

The Fiji Times is putting up the $5000 first prize and Westpac the $3000 for the People’s Choice Award.

The Fiji Times is a sponsor of Domo Vou Talei along with the Australian High Commission, Westpac, Communications Fiji Ltd, Fiji Performing Rights Association and Knox Entertainment.

The 10 finalists will perform their original songs live at the Woodstock Uprising Music Festival in Pacific Harbour on July 9 where the winner will be judged and announced.

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