Keynote Address by Cr Balram Kistaiya, Mayor, Nadi
Friday, 8th May, 2004 at Prince Charles
Address title: YOUTH - FUTURE LEADERS
Thank you for inviting me to address this
evening's programme. It is indeed a privilege and a pleasure
to be with you here today.
Today marks the first day of a week long
commemoration of the arrival of our forefathers as Girmitiyas
in this land we now call home.
It is therefore only fitting that I reflect
a little on the historical significance of today's
14th of May, 1879 as the history books have
it, was the day that Girmitiyas first landed in Fiji. It was
the beginning of what would become an example of human
struggle, sacrifice and resilience. Today, several generations
later, we can testify to the fruits of that struggle, pain and
sacrifices of those early days.
I need not remind you of the sufferings,
humiliation and exploitation of our forefathers by the
Colonists, Capitalists and the Elite of the day. It would be
suffice to say that tremendous sacrifices were made by our
forefathers in developing and maintaining the sugar industry
whose greatest beneficiary was the Colonial Sugar Refinery
Company. Notably, the sugar industry was to subsequently kick
start the economic engine of the colony which was later to be
independent Fiji's economic backbone.
Imported as indentured labourers which
really is a nicer way of saying you are now a slave of the
CSR, the Girmitiyas faced monumental challenges which they had
overcome with dignity and now evident in the relative
prosperity that today's generation enjoys.
Consequently, today's generation must
recognise the difficulties, challenges and the pain and
suffering of our forefathers as the foundation upon which we
now enjoy a reasonably comfortable life. They painfully laid
the bricks upon which the early colony was able to grow
economically and financially.
Central in our review of the past and of
recent history is the resonant theme of hard work, sacrifice
and a desire to see the next generation enjoy a better and
It is these lessons of the past that we must
derive propulsion from to achieve goals of the future. It is
the lessons we learn from our Girmitiya forefathers' that must
drive us on in achieving our dreams of the future.
Today's youth must draw inspiration from the
hardship and sacrifice of those gone before us. It is a
challenge for the youth of today to emulate the significant
progress achieved by those early Girmitiyas. They have shown
that in the face of despair and slavery, men can move
mountains and move mountains they have.
A little over a week ago our Nation was
galvanised in its grief when it lost one of its greatest son's
and statesman, the Late Ratu Sir Kamisese Kaipaiwai Tuimacilai
Mara. On reflection you will all agree with me that tomorrow's
Fiji must seriously realign itself with the principles and
vision of our beloved Ratu Sir Kamisese K. T. Mara. We cannot
anymore ignore the foundation of Ratu Mara's vision of Nation
Building for Fiji.
We now live in challenging and exciting
times. It is now 125 years since the arrival of the Girmitiyas.
It is also now thirty four (34) years since Fiji's
Independence. We recognise the challenges of living in a
plural or multicultural society and as such must continue to
strive and ensure that our goals are inclusive and that
collectively as one Nation, we may be able to achieve
significant gain as our Girmit forefathers did.
Indeed we must as leaders of the future
imbue ourselves with those tremendous qualities of our
forefathers - hard work, sacrifice and resilience and that the
pages of history may also some day read that we have risen to
the challenges and have turned obstacles into giant stepping
In conclusion I urge the generation and
leaders of the day that a path is mapped out for you to propel
your destiny and build future of the nation.
May God Bless Fiji And You.