History

‘Girmit’ – Relevant to our present and future

The Girmit story isn’t a story confined to one community in Fiji. It is a story that belongs to all of us – an inspirational chapter of the development of our nation as a whole. This was the main message delivered by His Excellency the President, Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote at the National Launch of […]

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November 10, 2016 9:49 am

The Girmit story isn’t a story confined to one community in Fiji. It is a story that belongs to all of us – an inspirational chapter of the development of our nation as a whole.

The SS Sutlej float through Suva City yesterday.
The SS Sutlej float through Suva City yesterday.

This was the main message delivered by His Excellency the President, Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote at the National Launch of Girmit Centennial Celebrations at Albert Park today.

The celebration is a first to be held in Suva followed by celebrations in all districts around the country from tomorrow.

More than 1000 students and members of the public took part in a float procession from the Flea Market to Albert Park led by a replica of the MV Sutlej V – the last ship that brought indentured labourers from India to Fiji 100 years ago.

HE President Konrote said the Girmit story needs to be retold, as it is relevant to our present and future.

“Not only did the Girmitiyas lay the foundation for much of what we know in Fiji today, they set an example of endurance, teamwork and sacrifice in the service of our nation. It is an example for every Fijian to follow and an inspiration to us all,” HE President said.

Indian cultural items at Albert Park in Suva yesterday.
Indian cultural items at Albert Park in Suva yesterday.

The President added that some Girmitiyas eventually returned after serving a further five years on top of their original period of indenture.

“For others, the cost of returning was simply beyond their means, they had no choice but to stay and make new lives for themselves. We must never forget the challenges that the Girmitiyas and their descendants have faced.”

President Konrote said it took 97 years after the last arrival of the Girmitiyas for the citizens of these islands to finally gain a common identity, a common name.

He reminded the public that celebrations held around the country is a reminder that everyone belongs to this nation.

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