Kumar: Girmit history important

Members of the Varoka, Tavarau Nari Sabha Ba perform an item during the Girmit Remembrance Day celebrations and the Civic Centre in Nadi yesterday. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

IT is important to know and learn about the history of Girmitiyas, says Minister for Local Government Parveen Kumar. While speaking at the 139th Girmit Day celebration in Nadi yesterday, he said many historians had documented the arrival of the Girmitiyas but little was still known about their sacrifice and suffering.

“It is important that we use Girmit Day to get a better sense of the history, background and context as to why and how Girmitiyas came to Fiji,” he said.

“In 1874, when Fiji was ceded to Great Britain and became a Crown colony on 10 October, 1874, one of the great challenges was to find labour to sustain an economy.

“This is the truth behind the arrival of the indentured labourers and we must acknowledge their work and contribution to establishing an economy for our beautiful country.

“On May 14, we must be reminded and pay respect to our Girmit forefathers. We are not only paying respect to their legacy but also to their material contribution. “Girmit became a common term for the conditions for an indentured labourer from India under the British colony.”

He said a new publication focused on the history of Girmitiyas would soon be released as part of the 140th anniversary next year.

“Even though we have many publications about our Girmitiyas being published already, we believe that not a lot of the truth about our indentured labourers is being told.

“That is why we will have a new Girmitiya publication that will be released on the 140th anniversary of their arrival on the Leonidas.”

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