NATION

Significant Progress Because Of Girmitiyas

A large crowd of people from different cultural backgrounds attended the 137th Girmit Day celebrations at Syria Park in Nausori yesterday. Chief guest for the event the President, Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji
15 May 2016 08:22
Significant Progress Because Of Girmitiyas
President, Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konousi Konrote(left) with Minister for Education Cultural and Arts,Mahendra Reddy during the offcial opening of the Girmit celebration at Syria Park in Nausori yesetrday. PHOTO:LITIA CAVA

A large crowd of people from different cultural backgrounds attended the 137th Girmit Day celebrations at Syria Park in Nausori yesterday.

Chief guest for the event the President, Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote, and the Minister for Education, Mahendra Reddy, were garlanded then taken for a tour around the park visiting the tents of various groups showcasing the history of the Girmitiyas.

President Konrote said we all had benefitted from the labour and sacrifice of those first indentured labourers who arrived into Fiji.

“I must say that Fiji has progressed significantly since the arrival of the Grimitiyas.

“The vision to make a better living, to pursue better opportunities, to provide educational opportunities for their children at that time were some of the significant strides they made to make things better, not only for themselves, but for the nation as a whole,” President Konrote said.

Minister Reddy said it was an honour to see how our youth were taking an interest in the history of our nation.

“In this era of technology, it is so good to see the young children taking out their time to attend this celebration today and to know more about how our ancestors arrived and survived in Fiji,” Mr Reddy said.

Indian High Commission’s first secretary JJ Varma said it was important to know how their ancestors came to Fiji and the struggles they faced.

“This is the spirit the Girmitiyas brought to the country and they have contributed strongly in building Fiji to what it is today.

“There is a need for us, who are descendants of the Girmitiyas, to remember their sacrifice and recognise them,” Mr Varma said.

He also emphasised on the growth of facilities and technology orientation towards modern things, but that should not stop you from remembering your ancestors and their spirit where as they can take the correct decisions in times of adversity. Honour their memories, learn from their lessons, and continue to progress in life.”

The first Girmitiyas arrived in Fiji in the ship named Leonidas on May 14, 1879.

And more than 61,000 people from India were brought to Fiji to work on the sugar cane plantations under the ‘Girmit’ or ‘Indentured Labour’ system between 1879 and 1926.

The Girmitiyas were brought to Fiji on a contract for five years and upon completion were given a choice to either return to India at their own expense or stay in Fiji.

The majority opted to stay and they and their descendants have become major contributors to the economic, social and political development of Fiji.

Edited by Manasa Kalouniviti

Feedback:  ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

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