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Fiji Time: 3:42 AM on Saturday 23 August

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Those good old days

By SHEETAL SINGH
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

THE two major races in the country were more isolated from each other in the girmit era than today, says University of Fiji lecturer on Fijian studies Rejieli Racule.

Speaking at a book launch on Girmit Day celebrations at the university on Friday, Ms Racule said before European contact, Fiji was relatively homogeneous with a young civilisation. The university marked Girmit Day on Friday with the launch of Shifting Locations by Professor Subramani and Between the Lines by Professor Satendra Nandan.

In her speech, Ms Racule said when she was doing her research on the girmitya for her speech, she met a 100-year-old girmit descendant in Lautoka.

"Muniamma was born at Nakaikogo in Nausori to girmit parents who were married here in Fiji and lived a hard life," she told guests in Lautoka.

"Her first contact with Fijians was when she was eight years old when they moved to Drasa. Some Fijian girls made friends with her and used to take her swimming, which she greatly enjoyed and later on she developed a liking for yaqona that she still likes to drink."

Presenting a Fijian perspective to the girmit era, Ms Racule said there were hardly any publication made giving a Fijian's account of the girmit.

She said there was now a fair body of literature on the effects of the indentured system on the girmit and their descendants.

"By contrast, hardly any writing, study or research has been done on the effect of the Indian civilisation and culture on the Fijian people, from first contact to now," said Ms Racule.


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