CELEBRATIONS: ACTING PM MOVES
GRANDMOTHER TO TEARS AT GIRMIT EVENT
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.
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.