Biographical entry: Fifi'i, Jonathan (c. 1921 - 1989)

c. 1921


Jonathan Fifi'i was born at Ane'emae in east Kwaio, Malaita in about 1921. He grew up on the coastal slopes above 'Oloburi and Sinalagu harbours, but in the mid-1930s became an Adventist and was educated at that church's schools at Sinalagu, and then at Marovo in the Western Solomons, before going to work as a servant in Tulagi from 1938-1941. In 1942, he was appointed Sergeant for the Sinalagu section of the Solomon Islands Labour Corps, and served in that capacity on Guadalcanal from 1942 through 1945. In 1946, the Kwaio made him one of the ten original Head Chiefs of the Maasina Rule movement (1944-1952; q.v.). Convicted with other leaders of sedition in 1947, he was sentenced to six years imprisonment, but the Head Chiefs were all released on license in 1950. He formed the first Local Government Council (q.v.) at 'Aimela and was a teacher at 'Aimela Council School from 1952 to 1956. In 1952, Fifi'i also became the first Kwaio member of the newly formed Malaita District Council (q.v.). He later became an associate of anthropologist Roger Keesing who worked in Kwaio starting in 1962 and joined Keesing in compiling a Kwaio-English dictionary and recording Kwaio customs. He returned in Honiara in September 1967 after almost a year in California with Keesing, working on the Kwaio Dictionary.

Fifi'i later became President of the Malaita Council (1968-1970), and in 1973 he was elected as the member for Central Malaita in the Governing Council (q.v.), and served on the Social Services and Communications and Works Committees (1972-1973). Fifi'i toured Pacific countries and visited England with the Constitution Select Committee. In 1973, he was re-elected as the member for Kwaio and became the member for East Kwaio in the Legislative Assembly (q.v.). From 1981 to 1983 he taught at the community-run Kwaio Cultural Centre School inland from Sinalagu. Fifi'i was married with five children. He also worked with anthropologist David Akin over many years. Just before his death in 1989 he published an autobiography, From Pig Theft to Parliament: My Life between Two Worlds. (NS 7 Sept. 1967, 30 June 1970, 6 July 1973; SND 9 July 1976; Shineberg 1982; Fifi'i 1989)

Related Concepts

Published resources


  • Fifi'i, Jonathon, From Pig-Theft to Parliament: My Life Between Two Worlds, Translator: Roger M. Keesing, Roger M. Keesing, Solomon Islands College of Higher Education and Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific, Honiara and Suva, 1989. Details


  • Solomons News Drum, 1974-1982. Details
  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details

Journal Articles

  • Shineberg, Barry, 'Interview with Jonathon Fifi'i: Setting the Record Straight on 'Marching Rule' and a 1927 Murder', Pacific Islands Monthly, vol. July, July, pp. 15-18. Details