NATION

140th Girmit Remembrance Day

Mr Bainimarama asked the teachers who were present at the event to carry the universal lessons of Girmit with them to their students with renewed passion in the years ahead.
12 May 2019 12:51
140th Girmit Remembrance Day
Current and former students of Visama Sanatan School from Nausori performing a skit about the Girimitiyas during the Fiji Girmit 140th anniversary celebrations at Albert Park, Suva, on May 11, 2019. Photo: Simione Haravanua.

The stories of Girmitya suffering serve as a permanent reminder of the scars of colonialism that we must never forget they are also a beacon of hope.

These were the words of the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during the commemoration of the 140th Girmit Remembrance Day at the Albert Park yesterday.

“For many of the young people here today, while the black-and-white photos in your history books may make Girmit seem like the distant past, the wounds are much fresher than you may realise there are still men and women alive in Fiji today who were born before the Girmit ended in 1920. Less than one lifetime separates us from this cruel and inhumane practice,” he said.

To truly get a feel for what life was like at the time, to see through the eyes of the Girmitya, Mr Bainimarama encouraged all Fijians, regardless of age, ethnicity or background, to take the time to read these stories. They have within them lessons that we all can learn from; lessons of strength, of perseverance, and of unity.

He said Fijian students did not enjoy the same access or quality of education that we are blessed with today and even for those who had underwent a formal education, the curriculum included little to no teachings on Girmit.

Girmitiya saw education as the best way to ensure that they, and their children and grandchildren, would never endure the same oppression that they did which was why so many of our schools throughout Fiji that still exist to this day where founded by Girmitya forefathers, he says.

“Because while they may have been illiterate and lacked formal education themselves, they were wise beyond measure, and knew that an investment in our future generations would pay off for years to come.

“That same foresight is shared by my Government today, and the visionary groundwork that they laid decades ago has made Fiji’s rapid and transformative education revolution possible.

“Please, let us not let this legacy go to waste.”

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during the Fiji Girmit 140th Anniversary celebrations at Albert Park in Suva on May 11, 2019. Photo: Simione Haravanua.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during the Fiji Girmit 140th Anniversary celebrations at Albert Park in Suva on May 11, 2019. Photo: Simione Haravanua.

Mr Bainimarama asked the teachers who were present at the event to carry the universal lessons of Girmit with them to their students with renewed passion in the years ahead.

And to the students he said: “I implore you to become ambassadors for preserving and spreading the stories of the Girmitya for years to come.

“While many of those stories may be deeply tragic, they also represent a stunning triumph a triumph of human dignity in the face of crushing adversity.

“Today, owed to the sacred promises and protections of our Fijian Constitution: We are all Fijians, this nation is unquestionably home to us all, and we are all united in common purpose in working towards a brighter and better future. A future of promise and prospect. Of achieving the true Fijian dream. At long last, the descendants of the Girmitya stand on equal footing.

“Fiji is their home, a home that cannot be taken away from them.”

Edited by Susana Tuilau

Feedbackselita.bolanavanua@fijisun.com.fj

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