From Fiji Times Online (22 July 2016)

Tune for the blind

by Sikeli Qounadovu

John Smith
Seventy-six-year-old John Smith provides entertainment in the Capital City.
Picture: Sikeli Qounadovu

THE saying "old habits die hard" holds true for 76-year-old John Smith.

Having spent 30 years working for the Fiji Electricity Authority as a meter inspector, he retired in 2002 and decided to return to what he loves best — singing.

For the past three months, he has been doing this all for a good cause.

"The purpose of this is charity work, should I be able to raise enough money is for the blind and the poor.

"The rest of the money is for my expenses — food and travel."

This gentleman from the island of Rotuma is now a regular sight entertaining passers-by at the entrance of MHCC with his $300 guitar which he purchased himself.

Smith, who resides in Delainavesi, Lami, can be seen every week in the Capital City singing all sorts of songs. A steady strumming of the instrument coupled with his voice, Smith sure does gather a big crowd who stand in awe and marvel at his performance.

"I usually do this every week, but the best days are Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

"An aunt of mine is partially blind, my cousin is also blind and I have other relatives who are physically challenged, so I am using my talent to raise money for them."

Smith fell in love with singing when he was only 14 years old and a student at Marist Brothers Primary School.

He did not complete his education because he wanted to be a musician. He remembers carrying the musical instruments for his father and uncles to the old Grand Pacific Hotel to perform when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited the country in 1953.

His father was part of the Rotuman band, The Orange Grove Serenade, which played alongside the military forces band in that historical visit.

According to Smith, an audition was held to determine which group was to perform at the GPH during the royal visit.

So next time you see Smith performing in the greater Suva area, pause to listen to his songs and pop a few coins into his container. After all it's for a good cause.

On the day in question, Smith managed to raise $120 of which $30 was for his expenses — food, taxi and guitar strings.

The remainder was given to the Fiji Society for the Blind.