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Islanders remember ancestors

Siteri Sauvakacolo
Sunday, August 10, 2014

ANOTHER historical celebration has been planned for Fiji's Old Capital, Levuka in November.

The celebration called the "Fiji 150" will mark 150 years since the first group of 35 labourers from Vanuatu arrived in Fiji to labour in cotton, sugar and copra plantations.

Celebration organiser Ratu Meli Vesikula said this marked the beginning of the indentured labour trade to Fiji where men and women also came from the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, and other Pacific Islands.

Tragically they were either kidnapped or "black birded" to provided cheap labour.

Last year the Australian South Sea Islands held their 150th commemoration ("ASSI 150") with events and exhibitions throughout the states of Queensland and beyond to acknowledge this history and recognise the contribution, suffering and survival of this group of people.

"On November 7, 8 and 9 in Levuka, the Fiji Melanesian community from Baba, Wailailai and Wainaloka will host the celebration," Ratu Meli said.

"All descendants of island labourers are being invited to attend as well as government representatives.

"They will participate in the remembrance of the past, reconnect with long-lost relatives and create a permanent cultural link between Fiji, Australia, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

"The event will include a historical display with material provided from "ASSI 150" celebration last year, the work of Fiji Melanesian artists, traditional dances and lovo, an ecumenical church service and a re-enactment of the first landing," Ratu Meli said.





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