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
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
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
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.