Article 1
Article 2
Article 3
Article 4
Article 5
Article 6
Article 7
Article 8

Major attributes girmits' sacrifice

Fiji Times, Sunday, May 09, 2004

Youths were urged to draw inspiration from the way girmityas overcame the struggles they encountered when they first arrived in Fiji.

Speaking at the youth night to mark the 125th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Fiji, Nadi Mayor Balram Kistaiya said all the suffering, humiliation and exploitation that the girmityas experienced was endured so that their future generation would enjoy a better and prosperous life.

Mr Kistaiya said girmityas were responsible for the development and maintenance of the sugar industry, which started the economic engine of the colony which later became Independent Fiji's economic backbone.

"I need not remind you of the suffering of our forefathers by the colonists, capitalists and the elite of the day.

"It would be suffice to say that the sacrifices were made by our forefathers in developing the sugar industry," he said.

"Imported as indentured labourers, which is really a nice way of saying you are now a slave of the Colonial Sugar Refinery Company, the girmityas faced monumental challenges which they overcame with dignity and is now evident in the relative prosperity of today's generation."

Mr Kistaiya said the present generation should grasp the lessons of the girmityas and use it as a driving force toward achieving goals.

He challenged youths to emulate the significant progress achieved by the girmityas.

"They have shown that in the face of despair and slavery, men can move mountains and move mountains they have done," he said.

Mr Kistaiya encouraged youths to follow the principles and vision of nation-building of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

He said everyone had to recognise the challenges of living in a multicultural society and ensure that all goals were inclusive and collective

Mr Kistaiya said the nation should show the qualities of hard work, sacrifice and resilience shown by girmityas and rise to the challenges affecting the country.

The celebration started on Friday and will continue until May 15.

Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase unveiled a plaque commemorating the arrival of girmits in 1879 at the Lautoka Girmit Centre.