Fiji Sun - - Front Page - SHRATIKA NAIDU Edited by Naisa Koroi Feed­back: shratikan@fi­jisun.com.fj

Act­ing Prime Min­is­ter and At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was emo­tional when a tear­ful grand­mother thanked and hugged him dur­ing the Gir­mit Cen­ten­nial Cel­e­bra­tion at the Labasa Civic Cen­tre yes­ter­day.

Isardei, 80, of Bulileka, Labasa, was among the 26 re­cip­i­ents of the Gir­mit Cen­ten­nial plaque. “See­ing this well-dressed man (Mr Sayed-Khaiyum) talk­ing to me made me feel very spe­cial,” she said

“I don’t know that man who gave me this beau­ti­ful plaque, but I am very happy to re­ceive this which I see as a gift of recog­ni­tion,” Ms Isardei said.

“I cried be­cause it is very rare to re­ceive such things and sud­denly I re­mem­bered my fore­fa­thers and friends. Then I shed tears. “My hus­band and I had no chil­dren. He is al­ready in heaven.” An­other re­cip­i­ent, Ram Pratap Singh, 85, while seated with his walk­ing stick, stretched out his hand and blessed Mr Sayed-Khaiyum as part of the cul­tural sym­bol­ism. The crowd watched in awe when Mr Sayed-Khaiyum solemnly got on his knees al­low­ing a few mo­ments for Mr Singh, a re­tired ma­chine op­er­a­tor of Fiji For­est In­dus­tries (FFI), to ex­press his ap­pre­ci­a­tion. Mr Singh of Labasa said: “My fa­ther had taught me that when a vis­i­tor or a fam­ily ap­proaches with some­thing or for­mal greet­ings, I should give my bless­ing.”

An­other re­cip­i­ent of Urata, Labasa, Maya Wati, 98 said she missed the tra­di­tional life­style and mu­sic. “I am a great grand­mother to many chil­dren. I miss my fam­i­lies, friends and the way cel­e­bra­tions were done be­fore,” Ms Wati said. Mean­while, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said while ad­dress­ing the crowd that we need to move for­ward as a peo­ple.

“To the stu­dents I would like to es­pe­cially ap­peal to you,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said. “Some of you will be work­ing soon, hav­ing fam­i­lies and who knows some of you might be­come Mem­bers of the Par­lia­ment,” he said

“It is very im­por­tant for you to un­der­stand what the true his­tory of your coun­try is.

“If you are able to un­der­stand that and come to terms with it, then you will be­come good lead­ers, moth­ers, and fa­thers and con­trib­ute to your com­mu­ni­ties.

“I would like to thank all those peo­ple who turned up in all the cen­tres for the cel­e­bra­tions.” The cel­e­bra­tions are to mark the cen­te­nary of the ar­rival of the last shipload of in­den­tured labour­ers from Bri­tish In­dia on board SS Sut­lej V on Novem­ber 11, 1916.

Photo: Shratika Naidu

Act­ing Prime Min­is­ter and At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was in tears him­self when Isardei cried while re­ceiv­ing the Gir­mit Cen­ten­nial award dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tion at the Labasa Civic Cen­tre yes­ter­day.

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