More Gir­mit Cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tion sto­ries

Fiji Sun - - Fiji Today - SHRATIKA NAIDU Edited by Jonathan Bryce Feed­back: shratikan@fi­jisun.com.fj

It took 97 years since the ar­rival of the last in­den­tured labour­ers, but the de­scen­dants of the Gir­mi­tiyas are now called Fi­jians. Those were the words of Min­is­ter for Women, Chil­dren and Poverty Alle­vi­a­tion Mere­seini Vu­ni­waqa dur­ing the cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tion at Fore­shore Park in Savusavu on Fri­day night. “When this Govern­ment, in 2013, de­clared us all Fi­jians, equal and united as one na­tion and one peo­ple, it was a re­al­i­sa­tion of the hopes and dreams of hun­dreds of thou­sands of di­rect de­scen­dants of the Gir­mi­tiyas,” Ms Vu­ni­waqa said. “It is won­der­ful to see in Savusavu so many Fi­jians gath­ered to com­mem­o­rate this im­por­tant event.

“The his­tory of the Gir­mi­tiyas is also the his­tory of Savusavu.

“Although rel­a­tively few Gir­mi­tiyas were sent to the Savusavu area com­pared to su­gar­cane grow­ing ar­eas of Fiji, a small num­ber were em­ployed at co­pra plan­ta­tions in the re­gion such Vu­ni­lagi Es­tate, Tabia Set­tle­ment, Devo Es­tate and Tu­vu­rara Set­tle­ment. “All these places were many miles away from the main town of Savusavu, which would have com­pounded the sense of iso­la­tion of the Gir­mi­tiya men and women in Vanua Levu. “It is not the duty of any one com­mu­nity to re­mem­ber the sac­ri­fices and the suf­fer­ing that led up to this com­mem­o­ra­tion. “We must all re­mem­ber; we must all re­flect. And we must all up­hold the legacy of the Gir­mi­tiyas.” Nine peo­ple each re­ceived a cen­ten­nial plaque from Ms Vu­ni­waqa. Among the re­cip­i­ents was 96-year-old Suk Raji. The mother of four chil­dren and grand­mother to nine chil­dren, orig­i­nally comes from Korowiri, Labasa, but re­sides in Savusavu, said she was very happy to re­ceive this award. “I thank the Govern­ment for recog­nis­ing our ex­is­tence and con­tri­bu­tion made by our fam­i­lies when they came from In­dia to work in Fiji,” Ms Raji said. “Although so much good and bad changes have taken place over the years I love my coun­try Fiji be­cause this is the place where I was born and brought up.”

Photo: Shratika Naidu

Min­is­ter for Women, Chil­dren and Poverty Alle­vi­a­tion Mere­seini Vu­ni­waqa (right), hands over a cen­ten­nial plaque to Sushil Shanti, 83, dur­ing the cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tion.

Photo: Shratika Naidu

Part of the large crowd that gath­ered dur­ing the cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tion at the Fore­shore Park in Savusavu on Fri­day night.

Photo: Shratika Naidu

Min­is­ter for Women, Chil­dren and Poverty Alle­vi­a­tion Mere­seini Vu­ni­waqa (right), with Suk Raji in Savusavu on Fri­day night.

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