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• CREATED BY FIJIAN IN THE UK •

When MANA falls flat and becomes...

March 13, 2018

I'm annoyed. Like really freaking annoyed. In hindsight I set myself up for this by having high expectations but I'm getting ahead of myself here. The reason behind my feelings of annoyance is the disappointing anti-climax to an app that was launched back home in Fiji for a new publication.  I get it, we don't have the same resources available.. oh wait it's 2018 and the entire editorial team is made up of professionals who live in suburban city areas so nah that excuse won't cut it. My introduction to this app was a tweet I read by someone I follow sharing a sneak peak into one of the articles by Julia Mage'au Grey who is behind the movement of reviving traditional  female tattooing and the skill set it requires in the Pacific. This subject intrigues me because of the whole history behind how women in Fiji used to wear tattoo's and were the traditional tattooists in our culture but not a lot is said about it within our traditional village settings so yes, I was hooked and I was ready to go on a rampage on twitter this morning when I realised that the app I had tried to download from yesterday still hadn't downloaded - AND when it finally did 25 million years later, it kept crashing. I decided the  only way I can deal with my frustration is to spill the tea, sorry no that's not my intention here, is to review the MANA Pacific app & publication for you and let you decide whether it's worth it or not. There's more to just reviewing the content here though so feel free to grab a coffee or a carton of long neck because this is long one.

 First off - it's 2018 lovelies, apps are coming at users left right and centre, so before you launch it and claim that it is in fact user friendly, make sure that it is or you'll have assholes like me on the sideline giving you the side eye and telling you to fix it - BTW when I say user friendly I mean the not so tech savvy users like me. I mean I am of the millennial generation, I was known to have been one of those idiots who entered my email address in the address tab for webpages back when I was in uni in Fiji (almost two decades ago, shit I'm getting on aren't I) and had just had my email account set up by a loud mouth Samoan friend of mine, to be fair she was more American than Samoan but that's for her to elaborate (yes dear reader, I just threw some shade there because - annoyed as heck). Taking 25 million years to download a magazine app on fibre optics should not be a thing and on top of that, telling me once I'm on the app to go to YouTube to figure out how to then download and save the magazine is also not a thing. I'm here on your app, show me how to do it because I'm stupid and don't want to go to the vortex of Youtube where I'll get lured into the world of cat videos... THAT is a thing. Now that I've got that off my mother-of-three-kids-need-a-boob-job-melanated chest we can then move on to what I really want to talk about... Content and setting the benchmark.

 

I get excited whenever I  read about home girls from the Pacific doing exciting things and I get even more excited when it's my Fijian sisters. So the idea that a publication was going to launch an app that allowed users to browse the magazine for free and read articles that we could relate to about our culture; our entertainment industry; the fashion industry; the activism work on the ground and how we are changing the narrative; our art and its evolution and so forth, was like a breath of fresh air. I mean, these expectations of mine were pretty damn high because for one thing, this digital publication was going to be a first AND we all know that if you're going to be a first you damn well better bring your A-Game and be freaking amazing. This is important especially for women and most especially for women from Pacific Island backgrounds wanting to break into the publication world. MANA Pacific fell unceremoniously flat of that. The disappointment wasn't so much in the content, well some of it was mehhh but the ones that I stopped to read were Sachiko, Julia, Matisse, Sam Speight and also the random in Melbourne - girrrrrl I feel ya about those nappies, the rest were at best mediocre. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel that it was the fault of the contributors that it came across as mediocre, to me the fault lies with the editorial team. For a team that claims to be hip, young and vibrant, I struggled to see any of that coming through. It was at best dated, boring and most had me swiping like a tinder addict. When reading a magazine, I get very pedantic because hello OCD - so my first pet peeve is spelling & grammatical errors. Spelling more for names of people, places and important cultural themes because it's just disrespectful and stupid to get that wrong. A one-off can be excused but when you have quite a few littered throughout the publication it makes you worried that the editorial team might not know how to use the spellcheck feature. Take it from a not-so-tech-savvy numpty, its the tick with the abc, and the country is United States... not State, then it wouldn't be United, right? You're welcome. Grammatical errors I've become a bit more lenient with now if its articles written by people whose first language is not English but again as an editor, this is where you step in and put your editor big pants on and check the damn thing. Also we were colonised by the British so our standard choice of written English is English UK, I spy lots of z's instead of s throughout... like I said pedantic asshole alert. Another feature of a magazine that I get drawn to is the fluidity of the articles and how it makes me want to turn the page to read what's on the next page. It's smart marketing when you get it right because then your readers will look forward to the next issues, it's failed marketing if by the first article you're confused as hell about the concept or why the sections are divided into specific themes but the articles that follow the theme page don't really tie in with the theme.. Like dude... seriously, give me what you promised me!!! Colours is another big thing for me. I like colours but I also like uniformity. So if you give me big bold colours then make sure that it blends like my girl Terri says... blend, blend blend! I loved her tips though, she's cool. I didn't understand her first choice for the profile, but I get why she's doing it, because it's her hustle and that's her modelling agency so of course shes going to feature who she's working with. But it begs the question that if she's featuring an African-American/Italian model then where my sisters from another Pacific Island misters be at? Get intouch with Terri and get her to feature you, that's an amazing platform to use that already has an established following in an industry that's hard to break into outside of the small island states... unless you're Phillipa Steele then you're just a unicorn who's got it. Ok, I digress, back to my review.

 

I'm expecting to get trolled for this, because its my lunar cycle so my bitch mode is at an all-time high but seriously, if  you're going to put yourself out there and claim that you have worked for two and half years on the idea AND the concept and then come up with, to be quite blunt, a cut and paste rush job that is more a high school magazine publication then one to be taken seriously then expect people to get mad. I'm mad because as a Fijian woman I  was excited about this being the benchmark for young Fijian women wanting to go into digital publication. So it had to be done right and amazingly because now other Fijian women who come after this will be held to this level of mediocrity and basicness. I appreciate the hardwork that has probably gone into the entire launching and I'm not trying to belittle anyone even though I'm being really shady and giving you the side eye, but sister girl you let the team down massively on this one. How are we supposed to jump up and down and cheer you on and tell those big corporations to give our smaller island states a chance when what we bring to the table is at best a hand job that won't climax?! It's peeved me off because young Fijian girls who might want to develop apps in the same industry are going to be constantly reminded of this botch job that you guys have put up and even more so, funding for projects similar to this will be given less of an attention because we all know how the mechanics of funding works in small island states, if at first you don't succeed you ain't coming to me for my dollar after that. It's annoying me because every time we get an opportunity to do something amazing that sets the wheels in motion for girls and women to be able to breakthrough into mainstream industry we have to first prove ourselves because someone who has clearly not thought through the repercussions of doing a half-arsed job has not only moved our seat back further but now the damn audience can't even hear us. 

 

So there you have it, my review and yes the app just crashed again. My god.

 

P.S. Can you stop using men with three quarters and flip flops as our street style, do people not wear anything else besides three quarters and flip flops in Fiji? I grew up in Fiji and I know for a fact we love our colours and we wear some damn outrageously fashionable things so please show that to the world. 

 

Not-so-tech-savvy numpty

Bella x

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