Girmit Celebrations 2023

Girmit Celebrations 2023

By fijivillage
Friday 26/05/2023

The Girmit story isn’t a story confined to one community in Fiji, it is a story that belongs to all of us.

This was highlighted by the National Secretary of the Shree Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha Fiji Pandit Krishneel Tiwari for Girmit Day.


Girmit Day and Ratu Sukuna Day to be public holidays

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Thursday 29/12/2022
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka

Girmit Day and Ratu Sukuna Day will be official public holidays in 2023.

While speaking during his inaugural address to the nation, Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka says some months ago, he pledged to legislate for a Girmit Day public holiday to honour the settlers from India who began arriving here in 1879.

He says they were starting a new life in an unknown land and stayed to become an integral part of our country.

Rabuka says he reconfirms his promise to inaugurate the new national holiday in 2023.

He adds for reasons that are unclear, the former government decided to scrap the national holiday marking the life and achievements of our great chief and statesman, Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna.

The Prime Minister says they will reinstate Ratu Sukuna Day.

He says the monumental work of this illustrious traditional leader on land reform has had a continuing beneficial effect on the landowners, the economy, the sugar industry, business and investment.



Cabinet approves Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna Day and Girmit Day and removes Constitution Day as a public holiday

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 15/02/2023
[Photo: File]

Cabinet has approved the inclusion of Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna Day and Girmit Day in the revised 2023 Public Holiday dates and removed Constitution Day as a public holiday.

Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna Day will be celebrated on the last Monday of the month of May, which is May 29th this year.

Girmit Day will be celebrated on Monday 15th May, 2023.

Cabinet also agreed that the two new public holidays will be recognised through appropriate celebrations.

Two National Committees will be established to oversee the celebrations for the two holidays.

The National Committee for the Girmit Day celebrations will be chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, and the National Committee for the Ratu Sukuna Day celebrations will be chaired by the Minister for iTaukei Affairs.

Further announcements on the celebrations will be made as the Committees commence their work.

The revised public holiday dates will be published in the Gazette by the Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Agni Deo Singh.

There will now be 11 public holidays in 2023.



$500,000 approved for Girmit Day Celebration – Prof Prasad

By Mansi Chand
Tuesday 04/04/2023
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Prof. Biman Prasad (right) with FijiFirst MP Parveen Bala outside parliament [Image: File]

$500,000 has been approved for the Girmit Day Celebrations that includes a two day conference and the same amount has been allocated to Ratu Sukuna Day.

This was highlighted by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad during his Ministerial Statement.

He says the coalition government has declared and gazetted 15th May 2023 as the day to mark the occasion of Girmit Day as a national holiday.

Professor Prasad says indentured labourers have significantly contributed to the social, economic and political development and advancement of Fiji.

He adds as part of the Girmit Day Celebration, a two day conference will also be held on the 12th and 13th May 2023.

He says a National Committee has been established to organise and oversee all official funded activities and a Sub-Committee has been established responsible for the conference on National Girmit Day.

While responding to Professor Prasad, FijiFirst MP Parveen Bala says there is no evidence of inclusive organisation of the celebration as no one knows who is organising this and what level of public consultation is involved and why public funds will be used.

He says the Girmit celebrations organized by FijiFirst was not Suva centered as they took it to all towns and cities to make sure all are included as they invited all religious groups and social groups.



We have reintroduced Girmit Day to recognize and celebrate the Girmityas and their rightful place in Fiji’s history - Rabuka

By Alipate Narawa
Sunday 09/04/2023
[Photo: Fijian Government]

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka says they have reintroduced Girmit Day to recognize and celebrate the Girmityas and their descendants and their rightful place in Fiji’s history.

He stated this as he officiated at the prize-giving event for the Extra Supermarket Girmit Golf Open Tournament at the Fiji Golf Club, adding that the Girmityas have contributed immensely to the development of this nation, and during his earlier term in Government, they scrapped the India Repatriation Law.

Rabuka also says it is indeed an honour to be there as part of government and thanked all the sporting communities for including them in the tournament as it is an occasion where they also celebrate and be united through the contribution of the descendants of the Girmityas and their forefathers who have made their sacrifices.

The Prime Minister also says this is part of their effort in making Fiji a home for all.

77-year-old former school teacher Ram Rattan who was the special guest at the tournament expressed his heartfelt appreciation to the Prime Minister for recognizing the Girmityas and their contribution to the country.

Rattan adds his hearty thanks to the Prime Minister and the coalition government for allocating a day to celebrate and remember their forefathers.

He also reminded all the descendants of Girmityas, to raise their children to be generous, kind, educated and further contribute to the development of this land.

In its fourth year, the tournament drew a sponsorship of $40,000.00 which Rabuka said was an essential and successful event.

This year’s Girmit Day will celebrate the 144th year of their arrival in Fiji on May 14th, 1879.

It is estimated that 60,965 Girmityas landed in Fiji from 1879 to 1916.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad also attended the event.



Girmit and Ratu Sukuna Day celebration is a one time expenditure - PM

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Monday 01/05/2023
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has clarified that the funds that will be used for the Girmit and Ratu Sukuna Day celebrations is a one time thing and it will be different next year.

While speaking during the fijivillage Straight Talk with Vijay Narayan, Rabuka says this is a one time expenditure.

He says the celebration can also be funded from the existing budget or savings from other areas.

The Prime Minister adds that this year will be the first time to celebrate both holidays as it will bring unity and also educate the younger generation on the great contribution our forefathers have made for the nation.

It has been confirmed that $500,000 each will be used for the Girmit and Ratu Sukuna Day celebration.

Girmit Day will be celebrated on the 15th of this month while Ratu Sukuna Day will be celebrated on the 29th.



Methodist Church to lead historic service for the Girmitiyas on May 14th

Church to ask for forgiveness from the Indo Fijian community for the hurt that has been caused over the years
By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 02/05/2023
Centenary Church

A historic thanksgiving and reconciliation service will be held for the descendants of Girmitiyas on Sunday May 14th at the Vodafone Arena where the Methodist Church of Fiji will also ask for forgiveness from the Indo Fijian community for the hurt that has been caused over the years.

President of the Methodist Church of Fiji, Reverend Ili Vunisuwai says the church’s standing committee had decided that they should lead a process as part of the Girmit celebrations to thank the Indo Fijian community for their contributions, and also work on rebuilding the country, and creating a positive impact towards race relations.

He says they welcome the Girmit holiday and celebration as Girmitiyas have played a major role in the development of our country.

Reverend Vunisuwai also says the coups starting from 1987 hurt many people a lot.

Reverend Vunisuwai says the curse of those coups overshadow the country, and true reconciliation is needed.

He says they have committed wrong acts against members of the community which are totally wrong in the eyes of the Lord.

The first Girmitiyas landed in Fiji on May 14th 1879 and the first coup was staged by Sitiveni Rabuka on May 14th 1987.

Reverend Vunisuwai says Prime Minister Rabuka has welcomed the special service on May 14th and preparations are underway.

The thanksgiving and reconciliation service will be held at the Vodafone Arena from 2pm Sunday May 14th.



There is a lot of hurt and we all have to set the foundation right - Kiran

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 02/05/2023
Assistant Minister of Woman, Children and Poverty Alleviation and the Chair of the Girmit celebrations, Sashi Kiran

Assistant Minister of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and the Chair of the Girmit celebrations, Sashi Kiran says the thanksgiving and reconciliation service being organised by the Methodist Church of Fiji is significant as it will assist in healing the nation as a whole.

Kiran says a lot has happened in the last 140 years, it is a humbling approach and it needs a leader of courage that Reverend Vunisuwai has shown in having a lot of strength in being able to confront the issues of the past.

She hopes the Indo Fijian community will turn up in numbers to reciprocate the love and the acknowledgment of the past, so we can build together the foundation for the future.

Kiran says there is a lot of hurt and we all have to set the foundation right.



Several key events to be held during the official Girmit celebrations

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 03/05/2023
A student dresses as a girmitiya during celebrations at Lawaqa Park back in 2016. Photo:Fiji Government

Several key events will be held during the official Girmit celebrations from the 11th to the 15th of this month including plans for eco tourism launches in Navilaca, Rewa and Nukulau, girmit exhibitions for the public at Albert Park, girmit performances and the thanksgiving and national reconciliation service on Sunday May 14th.

Girmit celebrations Chair and Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Sashi Kiran says the celebrations start on May 11th next Thursday with the commemoration of the wreck of the vessel, Syria on 11th May 1884 and the acknowledgment of the vanua of the rescue mission at Navilaca Village in Noco, Rewa. She says Navilaca will be declared a peace village and there will be a plan for an eco tourism launch.

On Friday 12th May, there will be a visit to Nukulau which was the first landing and quarantine site for indentured labourers. There are also plans for an eco tourism launch.

The public girmit exhibition showcasing 144 years of history will be showcased by cultural groups at Albert Park from Friday to Sunday.

There will be traditional food stalls, rides, cooking competitions and arts shows at Albert Park.

There will also be a special program from 7pm to 9pm called Jhankaar Beats featuring girmit compositions and special guest artists.

From 10am to 1pm Saturday 13th May, there will also be a girmit sports program at Albert Park and from 6pm to 9pm, there will be girmit folk performances. On Sunday, the girmit exhibition will continue and there will be Indian cultural performances at Albert Park.

The thanksgiving and national reconciliation service, where the members of the public are also invited, will be held from 2pm to 4pm Sunday May 14th at the Vodafone Arena.

A girmit attire show is also planned from 7pm to 9pm on Sunday.

On girmit day public holiday on Monday May 15th, the girmit parade starts from the Suva Flea market to Albert Park at 8am.

The official program will be held from 9am to 1.30pm.

A girmit conference will also be held on the 12th and 13th of May at USP.



The struggles of the girmitiyas and forefathers depict what Fiji is today – Bulileka resident

By Karishma Kumari
Wednesday 03/05/2023
Left - Bihari Prasad of Anuve, Bulileka, Labasa

The struggles and sacrifices of the girmitiyas and our forefathers depict what Fiji is today in terms of business and the economy.

This has been highlighted by Bihari Prasad of Anuve, Bulileka, Labasa whose grandparents were the first lot of Girmitiyas that landed in Fiji.

While sharing his story, Prasad says after landing in the country the girmitiyas were taken to different places for work purposes.

He says all married people were kept in one room while all the singles were kept in a separate room.

Prasad adds their life had not been easy as they had to wake up at 4am to do their chores and work on the farm finishing off at 6pm with only 1 penny a day.

The 82-year-old also says pregnant women and mothers were beaten by the British supervisors and some even had to take their babies to work in the farms as well.

While sharing the struggles of the girmitiyas through singing folk songs, Prasad says they had no relatives but accepted whatever they had.

He further says they have also sacrificed and struggled a lot for Fiji to gain independence in 1970.




Sanatan Fiji appreciates kindness from the Methodist Church of Fiji

By Mansi Chand, Vijay Narayan
Thursday 04/05/2023
[Photo: File]

The National Secretary of Shree Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha Fiji, Pandit Krishneel Krishan Tiwari says they are overwhelmed with gratitude that the Methodist Church of Fiji will conduct a forgiveness session for the Indo-Fijian community for the hurt caused in the past years.

Tiwari thanks the Methodist Church for being considerate and appreciating the descendants of the Girmitiyas and the citizens of Fiji.

He says they would like to assure them that they have the same love and respect for the iTaukei culture and people.

Tiwari says they want to build relationships with other faith-based organizations in Fiji and abroad to maintain a united nation.

The thanksgiving and reconciliation service will be held at the Vodafone Arena from 2pm Sunday, May 14th.

This is part of the Girmit celebrations organized by the government.

President of the Methodist Church of Fiji, Reverend Ili Vunisuwai says the church’s standing committee had decided that they should lead a process as part of the Girmit celebrations to thank the Indo Fijian community for their contributions, and also work on rebuilding the country, and creating a positive impact towards race relations.

Reverend Vunisuwai says the coups starting from 1987 hurt many people a lot.

He says the curse of those coups overshadow the country, and true reconciliation is needed.

He says they have committed wrong acts against members of the community which are totally wrong in the eyes of the Lord.

Assistant Minister of Woman, Children and Poverty Alleviation and the Chair of the Girmit celebrations, Sashi Kiran hopes the Indo Fijian community will turn up in numbers to reciprocate the love and the acknowledgment of the past, so we can build together the foundation for the future.

Kiran says there is a lot of hurt and we all have to set the foundation right.



Government recognises the important contribution of Girmitiyas - Kiran

By Alipate Narawa
Thursday 04/05/2023
[Photo: Fiji Government]

The Government of the day recognises the important contribution of Girmitiyas and their rightful place in Fiji's history and therefore they have introduced Girmit Day.

Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Sashi Kiran highlighted this at the Girmit Day celebration hosted by the University of the South Pacific this morning.

Kiran conveyed her appreciation to the organising committee for putting together the commemoration by organizing a debate session for the eight participating schools.

The Assistant Minister says the effort put in by each participating student, the support of parents and the guidance of teachers for enabling these youths made today's debate session a very impactful one.



Chand recalls the hardship and struggles of his ancestors

By Karishma Kumari
Friday 05/05/2023
94 year old Rup Chand of Samabula

94 year old Rup Chand of Samabula, Suva is recalling the hardship and struggles his ancestors went through during the girmit days.

Chand says his grandparents and parents were amongst the last girmitiyas that came to Fiji from India and were then taken to different islands and places.

He says his family was taken to Tavueni to work in the plantation.

Chand adds whether it was rain or shine, they left home early in the morning without having breakfast, to work on the farms and sometimes would return home late at night after finishing their task for the day and were paid 1 shilling a day.

The 94-year-old says mothers also took their babies with them to work on the farm.

Chand says after a few years they were then moved to Samabula, from Tavueni, where they got free land and built their small wooden house which is almost 100-years-old now.

While recalling all his struggles, Chand says he used to wash clothes for the army and was only paid 10 cents a day.

He says he also worked on the farm with his other siblings to support his family.



It is very critical to involve the young generation in the Girmit day celebration - Kiran

By Karishma Kumari
Sunday 07/05/2023
Chair of the Girmit celebrations and Assistant Minister for Women, Children, and Poverty Alleviation Sashi Kiran

It is very critical to involve the young generation in the Girmit day celebration as that is our identity and the grounding we have. This was highlighted by the Chair of the Girmit celebrations and Assistant Minister for Women, Children, and Poverty Alleviation Sashi Kiran during a press conference.

She says it is very important that our history is remembered because, most people have forgotten the aspects of the Girmit, they have read about it, but do not remember it.

Kiran says every time we talk to elders, they keep saying that they will not be around for too long and to make sure that young people are involved in all these activities. She says there will be many components brought in to make sure that the younger generation is interested in the celebration.

When questioned on why the step of thanksgiving and national reconciliation service was not taken earlier, Kiran says we need the strength of leadership and they are grateful that the Methodist Church of Fiji’s leadership is showing that strength, as a whole church.

She says we have good leadership in place and it is a good time as well as they have all the rest of the churches and all the cultural bodies set up for good meetings.

The Girmit celebrations will be held from this Thursday to the Girmit Day public holiday on Monday while the thanksgiving and the reconciliation service will be held at the Vodafone Arena at 2pm Sunday.



More than 150 new knowledge pieces on Girmit expected to be imparted during Girmit Conference

By Rashika Kumar
Tuesday 09/05/2023
Dr. Ganesh Chand. [Image: Fiji Government]

Fijians will get to see 150 or so new knowledge pieces on Girmit being imparted as well as experienced Surinamese musicians among various activities during the two day Girmit Conference at USP on Friday and Saturday.

Dr. Ganesh Chand who is on the National Committee on Girmit Events says descendants of indentured labourers number about 15 million worldwide but they have not taken pride in themselves so this conference is celebrating and recognising who they are, their difficulties and successes and plot the way forward.

He says in Fiji, we are very fortunate that the indigenous community has come to realise and accept the girmityas as part of Fiji.

Dr. Chand says in other countries, there are still serious issues such as South Africa where there is a huge problem of violence so we need to start discussing on what we need to do, how we articulate ourselves, what issues are important and what is the foundation for those issues.

He says all these issues will be covered in the conference.

Dr. Chand says a group of Surinamese musicians who created original Girmit music will be performing and will also be talking about the role of music in articulating their lives during the conference.

Those who want to attend will have to register at USP on Friday morning or online at www.girmit.ac.fj.

He says they are expecting a good turn out and is encouraging everyone to come. Dr. Chand adds there will be people taking part in the conference from South Africa, Mauritius. Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname and Jamaica.




Fiji would be in a different state if Girmityas would not have come to Fiji - Rasogo

By Mansi Chand
Wednesday 10/05/2023
Savenaca Rasogo from Vunikawakawa, Labasa [Image: Fiji Government]

The nation would be in a different state if Girmityas would not have come to Fiji.

This was highlighted by Savenaca Rasogo from Vunikawakawa, Labasa while acknowledging the arrival of the Girmityas, their sacrifices, and achievements that abetted in the development of Fiji.

Speaking in Hindustani, Rasogo says the i-Taukei community has witnessed the achievements of Indians in Fiji.

He also apologised to the Indo-Fijian community for what had happened in the past.



Descendants of Girmitiyas look forward to the reconciliation service on Sunday but the British colonisers need to apologize - Kapoor

By Marika Rasekaseka
Thursday 11/05/2023

While escaping from the darkest time of the colonised British India era and ending up on Fijian shores not knowing they will be accepted or neglected, the 1st and 2nd generations of the Girmityas are still facing challenges and are looking forward to the thanksgiving and reconciliation service organized by the Methodist Church of Fiji at the Vodafone Arena at 2pm Sunday.

A member of the Girmitiyas descendants, Christal Kapoor says the move made by the Methodist Church of Fiji and the coalition government is a good start for them because they have suffered enough.

However Kapoor is asking when the British colonisers will issue an apology.

The 28 year old says the physical, mental, psychological and emotional abuse they went through in a foreign land scarred them forever where no scars were treated or healed but passed from generation to generation, and this has become their inheritance.

She says they do not wish to pass their scars on to their next generation but to give them the undying spirit, resilience, sense of camaraderie seen among the jahajibhais, determination and the strength of being able to rise from the ashes.

She adds that reconciliation is the key to finding their way out from their dark days and will give them a chance to be free Fijians and call this place home.



Naivilaca Village declared as a Peace Village

Next Eco Tourism event will be held at Naivilaca Village
By Marika Rasekaseka, Vijay Narayan
Thursday 11/05/2023

Building relationships between the iTaukei and other races is part of our spiritual lives for the betterment of our future generations.

This was the message highlighted by the President of the Methodist Church of Fiji, Reverend Ili Vunisuwai after Naivilaca Village in Noco, Rewa was declared a Peace Village.

Reverend Vunisuwai says it was God's plan at first that the Girmitiyas came to our shores and it was not an accident.

He says iTaukei people have to be thankful to the Girmitiyas because they were the ones that helped raise our country to where it is right now.

He adds that the iTaukei are so fortunate to have the Girmitiyas family amongst them, but it's their duty to learn from them and develop our country for a better future.

During the declaration celebration, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism, Viliame Gavoka also made the announcement that the Ministry of Tourism will be hosting the next Eco Tourism at Naivilaca village in Rewa.

Girmit celebrations Chair and Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Sashi Kiran says the celebrations started today with the commemoration of the wreck of the vessel, Syria on 11th May 1884 and the acknowledgment of the vanua of the rescue mission at Navilaca Village in Noco, Rewa.

The Syria had carried 497 indentured adults, children and infants from India. On the night of 11th May, the ship was wrecked on Nasilai Reef as a result of inexperience and poor navigational facilities.

According to records, 59 people died in the tragedy. Their bodies were buried near the village of Naivilaca who continue to maintain the site today.

During the traditional ceremony, Na Marama na Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa acknowledged the ancestors of Naivilaca for taking care of the Girmitiyas during their time of need.

She says today also marks the celebration that was made few years ago about calling the Girmitiyas na luvedra na Tui Noco.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad says today they pay tribute in recognition of the history of 11th May 1884 when the Syria vessel went aground on the Nasilai reef and then their forefathers experienced the bravery, compassion, love and humanity of the people of Noco and the villagers of Naivilaca.

He says Girmit is a recognition of the hurt and pain of history.

Tomorrow, there will be a visit to Nukulau which was the first landing and quarantine site for indentured labourers. There are also plans for an eco tourism launch.

The public girmit exhibition showcasing 144 years of history will be showcased by cultural groups at Albert Park from tomorrow to Sunday.

There will be traditional food stalls, rides, cooking competitions and arts shows at Albert Park.

There will also be a special program from 7pm to 9pm called Jhankaar Beats featuring girmit compositions and special guest artists.

From 10am to 1pm Saturday, there will also be a girmit sports program at Albert Park and from 6pm to 9pm, there will be girmit folk performances. On Sunday, the girmit exhibition will continue and there will be Indian cultural performances at Albert Park.

The thanksgiving and national reconciliation service, where the members of the public are also invited, will be held from 2pm to 4pm Sunday at the Vodafone Arena.

A girmit attire show is also planned from 7pm to 9pm on Sunday.

On girmit day public holiday on Monday, the girmit parade starts from the Suva Flea Market to Albert Park at 8am.

The official program will be held from 9am to 1.30pm.

A girmit conference will also be held from today to tomorrow at USP.



Girmit Day expenditure is justified – Prof. Prasad

Prof. Prasad says he is not distracted by criticism
By Rashika Kumar
Friday 12/05/2023
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad says the significance of Girmit Day cannot be underestimated and the expenditure is justified.

While responding to a question during fijivillage Straight Talk with Vijay Narayan on allocating half a million dollars each for the celebration of Girmit Day and Ratu Sukuna Day while being cash strapped, Professor Prasad says when they got approval from the Cabinet, they had said that they would get sponsors and already have more than $100,000 sponsorship for Girmit Day and could possibly get more.

He says this is an expenditure which is worth spending and when you say consultation, commemoration, celebration and allocating money, it is like operational expenditure where government does things but government spending also helps the economy and without government spending, you cannot do anything.

He says with the girmit expenditure, this is a historic decision where Girmit Day is going to be a public holiday.

He says we do not only live by just eating and sleeping and there is much more to an identity, people and a nation.

Professor Prasad says he thinks people should be applauding the Prime Minister and the government for declaring Girmit Day a public holiday.

He says some people are asking why it is not on the 14th of May but 14th is a Sunday.

The Deputy Prime Minister says there will be a reconciliation service on Sunday and it is quite brave of the Methodist Church of Fiji to say that they hurt the people of Indian origin and want to apologise and reconcile.

He says they are not forgetting 1987 as they are the people who opposed it.

Professor Prasad adds we have to look back and learn from history but look forward to the future and the expense is totally justified and is building confidence.

You can watch the full video below:




Indentured labourers' story is an important part of our shared history – Prof. Prasad

School curriculum needs review – President
By Mosese Raqio
Friday 12/05/2023
President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere with students of Suva Grammar School

The story of the indentured labourers is marred by both time and tragedy and it is an important part of our shared history as a global community.

These were the sentiments of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad while delivering his speech during the Girmit Conference at the University of the South Pacific Laucala campus today.

Professor Prasad says this is a momentous occasion for us to reflect on the significance of Indian indenture in shaping the course of Fiji’s history and human history.

He says it is also momentous because this is the first time in Fiji’s history that Girmit Day has been declared a national public holiday.


Economic rights, and cultural and religious rights, or in short, it was the denial of their humanity.

He says colonialism was built on this systematic denial of humanity and that is why independence mattered so much.

The Deputy Prime Minister says the National Federation Party was so persistent in seeking Fiji’s independence.

He says for Indo-Fijians, Girmit connects us as it is the foundation of shared language, and interpretation of spirituality and is the foundation of their identity.

Professor Prasad also acknowledged Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka for initiating this idea of a national holiday and declaring this a public holiday.

President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere says while the story of the Girmitiyas is something well-known in Fiji and around the globe, there are some other aspects of the history in the lives of the Girmitiyas of which we are not aware.

Ratu Wiliame says it has been quite sad, rather unfortunate for all of us that our primary and secondary school’s curriculum does not give emphasis on our own history.

He further says there is an urgent need to review our primary and secondary schools’ curriculum to include all methods of significance for Fiji.

He also says the presence of Girmitiyas in Fiji raises hard questions for our communities mainly on the Indian presence in Fiji and their rightful place in our society.

Ratu Wiliame adds the wealth of diversity and inclusivity in Fiji continues to be learned with the presence of the Girmitiyas.

He says as we celebrate the diversity of our nation, we must also recognise that our differences make us stronger.

Ratu Wiliame says we must embrace our different cultures and learn from each other’s customs and beliefs.



Nukulau Island is a historic monument for the Girmitiyas

By Iliana Biutu, Vijay Narayan
Friday 12/05/2023

Nukulau Island is a significant historic monument for Girmitiyas in Fiji, as it became a quarantine depot before dispersing the labourers to plantations in other parts of the country.

Minister for Health, Ratu Atonio Lalabalavu says on behalf of the iTaukei people, they would like to say that today is a long time coming to recognise the deeds of the indentured labourers.

Girmit celebration chair and Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Sashi Kiran says Nukulau island has a particular significance to them.

Kiran says more than 60,000 of their ancestors landed on Nukulau Island for quarantine for about four to six weeks before being dispersed to the plantations.

She says it's important for them to know their history and what is their identity.

A delegation visited Nukulau today to put up a board to recognise the first landing and quarantine site for the indentured labourers. There are also plans for an eco tourism launch.

The public girmit exhibition showcasing 144 years of history is underway at Albert Park from today to Sunday.

There are traditional food stalls, rides, cooking competitions and arts shows at Albert Park.

There will also be a special program from 7pm to 9pm tonight called Jhankaar Beats featuring girmit compositions and special guest artists.

From 10am to 1pm tomorrow, there will also be a girmit sports program at Albert Park and from 6pm to 9pm, there will be girmit folk performances. On Sunday, the girmit exhibition will continue and there will be Indian cultural performances at Albert Park.

The thanksgiving and national reconciliation service, where the members of the public are also invited, will be held from 2pm to 4pm Sunday at the Vodafone Arena.

A girmit attire show is also planned from 7pm to 9pm on Sunday.

On girmit day public holiday on Monday, the girmit parade starts from the Suva Flea Market to Albert Park at 8am.

The official program will be held from 9am to 1.30pm.

A girmit conference will also be held from tomorrow to Saturday at USP.




Chaudhry wants Girmit Conference funding investigation

Prof. Prasad says he will not respond to such verbal defecation
By Vijay Narayan
Friday 12/05/2023

National Farmers Union General Secretary, Mahendra Chaudhry is now questioning why the Global Girmit Institute was allegedly given $200,000 to organise the Girmit Conference and this should be investigated however Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Biman Prasad says he will not respond to such verbal defecation from a person who has been convicted for breaching the Exchange Control Act and not declaring AUD$1.5 million kept in overseas bank accounts from collected funds.

Chaudhry says the $200,000 was released to the trustees of the Global Girmit Institute to pay conference expenses including airfares and accommodation for overseas speakers.

Chaudhry alleges that the Global Girmit Council was deregistered in February 2022 for failure to submit its annual returns and audited accounts for five years from its registration in 2017. He says surprisingly, the Institute was re-registered on 23rd February 2023 about the time the international Girmit conference was announced.

The NFU General Secretary says he is calling on Prime Minister Rabuka to carry out a thorough investigation of this entire matter.

Chaudhry also says while a massive $200,000 is spent on organising a conference of limited value, he is flabbergasted that no official programmes have been organized in Ba, Tavua, Ra, Nadi, Sigatoka, Navua, Nausori, Ovalau and Savusavu where vast numbers of the descendants of our Girmitiyas reside.

He is also asking for a full breakdown of the $500,000 to be spent on Girmit celebrations. In his initial response regarding Chaudhry’s statement, Professor Prasad says the government’s focus right now is ensuring that the pride and patriotism generated from this momentous and historic commemoration of Girmit has a lasting effect on our people.



Fiji is a much better place today because of what the girmityas have done and achieved – Seruiratu

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 13/05/2023
Opposition Leader and FijiFirst MP Inia Seruiratu. [Image: FijiFirst Parliamentary Chambers ]

Opposition Leader and FijiFirst MP, Inia Seruiratu says they pay homage to all girmityas and their descendants, who have been at the heart of the history and development of Fiji.

Seruiratu says as they celebrate, they also take time to reflect on the hardships the girmityas went through, the sacrifice and the focus on making better lives for themselves and their descendants.

He says they can say proudly and with much gratitude that Fiji is a much better place today because of what they have done and achieved.

Seruiratu says as we reflect and celebrate girmit this year, we must also remember that May 14th is also the anniversary of one of the darkest chapters in Fiji’s history.




Baksh travels from London to Fiji to trace her ancestry

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 13/05/2023
Nadia Baksh

The quest to discover her ancestry and family roots has brought Nadia Baksh from London to Fiji for the very first time.

Baksh who was born in London and is the daughter of an Indo-Fijian man says her father’s family were girmityas.

Baksh says her father was born in 1941 and was brought up in a sugarcane plantation adding when they were growing up, her father used to talk about the experience of the girmityas.

She also believes that her great-grandmother was in the Syria shipwreck.

Baksh says she guesses her father decided to leave Fiji for better opportunities.

Baksh was at Albert Park going through the records at the National Archives set up to help her in her quest to trace her ancestry.




Girmit songs should be introduced in the school curriculum – Chand

By Rashika Kumar
Saturday 13/05/2023
FNU Music Lecturer Naresh Chand

Girmit songs should be introduced in the primary and secondary school curriculum, or there will come a day that it will be forgotten.

This has been highlighted by FNU Music Lecturer Naresh Chand who was one of the many performers during a music show at Albert Part as part of the Girmit Day celebrations.

Chand who is doing his PhD on the significance of girmit songs performed songs that he composed on girmit history, their pain and their struggles.

He says there were no instruments in those days so they used anything they could find to use as instruments such as pots and pans and tins.

Chand says when the girmityas came home after working in the field, they would sing folk songs called bedisyas and lok geet from wherever they were from in India and would entertain themselves.

He adds the songs of their ancestors is their heritage and we should keep it alive and teach our children so that it stays alive.

While opening the show, Minister for Multi Ethnic Affairs, Charan Jeath Singh says it is important that we share our history and make sure that events such as these are culturally inclusive with a special emphasis on sharing an important aspect of Fiji’s shared history and the heritage which the iTaukei and the wider Fijian community has with us.

He says it is noteworthy that we recognise and live with the reality the Girmitya and their descendants would have had to live with and formed relationships with the iTaukei for nation building.

He says the indignity suffered by the girmityas have been documented by historians and the girmityas oral accounts and perhaps their plight and suffering are best to be expressed in the songs they have composed during this period.

He further says the songs and music brought from diverse parts of India helped make the dark days a bit lighter in the evenings when they gathered to recite from the holy books or sing folk songs from the regions.

Singh says the girmit era also saw the composing and songs that captured the hardship of their experience in Fiji.

He adds from next year, the Ministry of Multi Ethnic Affairs will take full charge of the Girmit Celebrations and spread it across many towns and cities in the country.

Meanwhile, Kushma Devi, who came to see the Girmit Exhibition at Albert Park says it is important for people to come and see how people lived and the struggles they went through where many also died.

She says we have it so easy now but she remembers her grandparents telling her about all they went through and that they were even whipped.

Devi adds girmit history should be taught in great detail in our schools.

70-year-old Bhan Wati says she remembers her grandfather telling her that they were lied to and brought to Fiji.

She says it is important to remember all their pain and realise that it is through their struggles that we are prospering now.



The girmityas and their descendants have contributed immeasurably to the life of the nation- PM

By Naveel Krishant
Saturday 13/05/2023
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka. [Image: Fiji Government]

The girmityas and their descendants have contributed immeasurably to the life of the nation – socially and economically.

This was highlighted by Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka while speaking during the Girmit Day Celebrations in Lautoka.

Rabuka adds historians such as the late Professor Brij Lal conducted in-depth researches that showed that girmit labourers were virtually slaves.

Rabuka further says we pay our respect to the girmityas.

The Prime Minister says he was particularly impressed by the multi-cultural inclusive nature of the celebrations.

Rabuka adds it is time now for the nation to work harder to overcome the things that have kept us apart in the past.



We are now one nation of different beliefs and cultures - PM

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 14/05/2023
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka. [Image: Fiji Government]

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka says we are now one nation of different beliefs and cultures.

While speaking at the Girmit Day Celebrations in Lautoka, Rabuka says let us as a nation move forward and we cannot build a new future relying on their vision and beliefs of the past.

Rabuka further says to him the underlying theme of the new Girmit holiday is about unity and how we can achieve this.

He adds what he saw in the programme is exactly what is required.

Rabuka says but it must be done consistently and with more awareness of how we can overcome our differences.




India’s State Minister for External Affairs to attend Girmit Day celebrations

By Mansi Chand
Sunday 14/05/2023
India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh [Image:India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh /twitter]

India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh will attend the Girmit Day celebration which will provide the opportunity for deliberations on issues of common interest.

Dr. Singh will meet with Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and cabinet ministers to discuss prospects for future collaboration. His visit will commemorate Fiji and India’s special historical and cultural links that were established when indentured labourers arrived.

Indian High Commissioner to Fiji P.S. Karthigeyan says India is pleased to collaborate with the government to commemorate the arrival of the first Girmitiyas.

He also commended the Government's efforts to recognise the sacrifices of Girmitiyas and honour their contribution to Fiji’s national development.



Hindu folk songs unites the Hindu and iTaukei communities - Masiloa

By Rashika Kumar
Sunday 14/05/2023

Prominent bhajan singer Noa Masiloa Junior says Hindu folk songs unites the Hindu and iTaukei community and it is important for everyone to stay united in Fiji

Masiloa Junior and his group performed the Fijian and the Indian national anthem and also sang bhajans at the Girmit Day Celebrations at Albert Park.

He says he learnt to sing from a young age when he lived in Dreketilailai in Labasa and would attend Hindu prayer functions every Tuesday.

Masiloa Junior says he learnt to speak and read Hindi in school.

He adds people live in harmony in his village and there are no differences between the iTaukei and the Indo-Fijian community.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Biman Prasad says Girmit history is not only the history of the Indo-Fijians and girmityas or the descendants but is also Fiji’s history.

Professor Prasad says it is very moving and delightful to see the celebration of our multiculturalism.

The Deputy Prime Minister has also thanked the President of the Methodist Church of Fiji, Reverend Ili Vunisuwai for his vision and leadership in recognising and organising a church service for reconciliation today.

He has invited everyone to be part of the church service because that is a momentous and historical step and it will be an occasion that will be cherished forever in this country.



Girmit was an extremely degrading and dehumanising experience for our forefathers – Chaudhry

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 14/05/2023
[Image: Himal Southasian]

Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry says the Indenture system or Girmit as it came to be called, was an extremely degrading and dehumanising experience for our forefathers.

In his message for Girmit Day, Chaudhry says their suffering, the unspeakable hardship, humiliation and the indignities they suffered under an evil and cruel system are now well recorded.

He says while it was fully brought to an end in 1920, the bondage did not end there.

Chaudhry adds our cane farmers in particular continued to be subjugated to control and exploitation under the CSR system.

He says liberation for them did not come until 1970 when the Denning Award was implemented giving them recognition and equity as major participants in the sugar industry.

The former Prime Minister says in itself, the Girmit experience is not something one can celebrate or be proud of.

He further says on occasions such as this, we need to focus on the achievements of the Girmityas and pay tribute to the spirit, perseverance and endurance of our pioneering forefathers.

Chaudhry adds today as we observe 144 years of our domicile in Fiji, he prefers to look ahead to what the future holds for our people here.

He says we need to ask, have we finally achieved the recognition and acceptance that our forefathers worked so hard to gain.

Chaudhry says this is an honest and valid question considering the three coups specifically targeted against our community in 1987 and 2000.

He highlighted that they created a feeling of rejection and alienation that drove thousands of our citizens to settle overseas in search of a better and more secure future.

He further says it is true that Indians had begun moving out of Fiji in small numbers in the 1950s when many of them moved to the UK and then later in the 60s to Canada and the US adding this exodus, however, accelerated after the coups as Australia and New Zealand opened their doors.

Chaudhry adds we now have a significant Fiji-Indian diaspora which may be larger than our own numbers here where we constitute just one-third of the population.

He says it is more than likely that being a landless community, many of whom are trapped in poverty and struggling to survive, the outward migration will continue.

The Labour leaders says maintaining close ties with India is also very important as India has much to offer Fiji in terms of trade, technology and cultural exchange.

He also says despite the adversities of the past, we must remain focused on the future.

Chaudhry adds let us ensure our youngsters learn from the resilience and determination of our forefathers to succeed in building a bright future for themselves.



The Girmit story isn’t a story confined to one community in Fiji - Tiwari

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 14/05/2023
[image: newgirmit.org]

The Girmit story isn’t a story confined to one community in Fiji, it is a story that belongs to all of us.

This was highlighted by the National Secretary of the Shree Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha Fiji Pandit Krishneel Tiwari for Girmit Day.

Tiwari says the story of the Girmitiyas is one of immense struggle and suffering, but it is also one of the most inspirational chapters of Fiji's history.

He says through sheer determination and hard work, the Girmitiyas eventually triumphed – a triumph of the human spirit in the face of terrible adversity.

Tiwari adds as their fortunes changed over the years, the importance of education became paramount.

He says as they set up schools all over the country, they became important partners with our other communities in gradually laying the foundations of modern Fiji.

Tiwari also says not only did the Girmitiyas lay the foundation for much of what we know in Fiji today, they set an example of endurance, teamwork and sacrifice in the service of our nation.

He says they appreciate the commitment shown by the coalition government and thanked Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka for the Girmit Day Public Holiday.



Sacred Heart Cathedral celebrates Mother's Day and Girmit Day

By Iliana Biutu
Sunday 14/05/2023
Sacred Heart Cathedral today celebrate Mother's Day and Girmit Day as part of the mass

The Sacred Heart Cathedral today celebrated Mother's Day and Girmit Day as part of their Mass.

The President of the Saint Agnes Parish Indian Mandali Community, Shamal Mani says today's Mass is a great achievement for the Mandali, as the Sacred Heart Cathedral acknowledged the Girmitiyas.

Mani says they were are so grateful that they were invited to participate in today's service.

She adds they are looking forward to the reconciliation service at 2pm, to acknowledge the hard work of their ancestors.

The Head of the Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong encouraged the people present in the Mass to pray for the healing of the Indo-Fijian brothers and sisters, as they remember the stories of the Girmit history.

He also reminded everyone to show God’s love by loving one another as they head into another week.



Methodist Church of Fiji apologises to the descendants of the girmityas for the hurt of the past

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 14/05/2023
Methodist Church of Fiji President, Reverend Ili Vunisuwai

The Methodist Church of Fiji led by their President, Reverend Ili Vunisuwai has apologised to the descendants of the girmityas for the hurt of the past in a powerful reconciliation service at the Vodafone Arena.

While delivering his message, Reverend Vunisuwai says they openly and genuinely confess their misdemeanor and seek forgiveness.

He says they cannot deny the fact that the difficulties and hardships the Indo-Fijian communities experienced was so immense, that most of the people found it difficult to relay their experiences until today.

Reverend Vunisuwai says they firmly believe, the Lord and Creator has seen and heard the Indo-Fijian communities cries, sorrows and agony.

He adds the only way forward for them, for a better and prosperous Fiji is to confess their short-comings and wrongdoings, repent from committing sin and live in peace and harmony.



Rabuka apologises for the 1987 coup and seeks forgiveness

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 14/05/2023
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has today apologised to the Indo-Fijian community for the coup of 1987.

Rabuka made the confession at the Reconciliation Service held at the Vodafone Arena and has asked for forgiveness.

He says he is not making this confession as the Prime Minister of Fiji as he does not hold the government accountable for his actions of 1987, nor is he making the confession on behalf of the vanua of Navatu.

Rabuka says he is making this confession on his behalf and on behalf of those that took part with him in the military coup of 1987.

The Prime Minister says they confess of their wrongdoings and confess they have hurt so many people of Fiji, particularly of the Indo-Fijian community.

He says he admits their wrongdoing and says people were justified to have blamed them.

Rabuka says he prays for God to empower us to forgive each other and no longer carry that burden of hate.



We accept your apology - Chaudhry

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Sunday 14/05/2023
Former Prime Minister and Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry hugs Prime Minister after the Thanksgiving and Reconciliation Service

Former Prime Minister and Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry on behalf of the Girmityas today accepted the apology of Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and the Methodist Church in Fiji for the role they played in the coups of 1987 and 2000.

Speaking during the Thanksgiving and Reconciliation Service at the Vodafone Arena, Chaudhry says this is a momentous occasion in the history of our nation, more so for the Girmitya community.

He says he is deeply touched and humbled by what he views as an act of great courage, statesmanship and humility by Reverend Ili Vunisuwai.

He also says it is not easy for a person of his standing to make an apology of this nature as he cannot conceive that Reverend Vunisuwai would personally condone any of the acts for which he is now apologising.

Chaudhry says the Fiji Labour Party was a victim of these coups and its leaders, supporters and their families were subjected to violence and harassment on three dreadful occasions.

The FLP Leader says he honestly believes that an apology is owed to the entire nation as everyone suffered from the misguided, unlawful and treasonous actions of the extremists who chose to take the law in their own hands – be they members of the democratically elected government, the business community, the workers, the farmers or the poor – no matter of what race or creed.

He says the entire nation has had to pay a heavy price for the senseless actions of a few.

He adds that as Reverend Vunisuwai has admitted, the economic, social and political implications of these upheavals have been utterly devastating, putting our country back many decades in terms of development.

Chaudhry says the consequent brain drain itself deprived the nation of some of our best professionals, tradesmen and artisans – the very people we sorely need for Fiji's own development.

The former Prime Minister says statistics show that despite the lofty motives given for the coups, the majority of the indigenous people today are far worse off than they were in 1987, many of them barely surviving.

He says latest figures show that i-Taukei comprise 75% of all those living in poverty and these are shocking statistics, but it also reveals how these simple people were used and misled.

He further says someone needs to apologise to them too as they were also exploited to serve the agendas of a few.

Chaudhry adds that it is well-accepted that the 2000 coup was also supported and financed by certain elements in the business community.

The FLP Leader says we must look to the future and take concrete measures to prevent coups and other forms of political violence from ever again destroying the fabric of our society.

He says groups with grievances, whether real or perceived, should have an avenue/forum where they can seek redress.

He is also suggesting the establishment of an independent institution to deal with such matters.

Attending the service were the Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, Deputy Prime Minister Professor Biman Prasad, Deputy Prime Minister Viliame Gavoka, Minister for Home Affairs Pio Tikoduadua, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, New Zealand High Commissioner Charlotte Darlow, cabinet ministers, descendants of Girmitiyas and members of the different church congregations.



We unreservedly and unequivocally accept the apology from the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rabuka – Professor Prasad

By Naveel Krishant
Sunday 14/05/2023
Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the National Federation Party Professor Biman Prasad

Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the National Federation Party, Professor Biman Prasad says he, the NFP and descendants of the Girmitiya, unreservedly and unequivocally accept the apology from the Methodist Church of Fiji and Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.

While speaking at the reconciliation service, Professor Prasad says let us all march ahead in unison and harmony to make Fiji a beacon of hope and land of opportunity.

He says this milestone gesture will now be part of an indelible history of our nation that once was at odds with itself and at critical crossroads, but collectively overcame insurmountable challenges by harnessing the talents and qualities of all its people.

Professor Prasad also says what Fiji and our diaspora have just witnessed has sowed the seeds for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, so critically needed to put a permanent closure to our ugly chapter of upheavals.

He adds once and for all, it will put an end to those whose political ambitions revolve around invoking fear and ill-will by fanning the flames of racism.




Fiji is the only motherland we’ve got and know, and the Vanua has been there for us - Kiran

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Sunday 14/05/2023

This is the only motherland we’ve got and know, and the Vanua has been there for us since we first landed.

This was the sentiment expressed by the Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Sashi Kiran during the Thanksgiving and Reconciliation Service that was held at the Vodafone Arena today.

She says their people that came to this island 144 years ago, do not consider India as their motherland, it maybe their grandmother land, but Fiji is the only motherland they’ve got.

Kiran said to the Prime Minister that it is painful for them to hear if they are told they do not belong.

She adds they are thankful to the Vanua for accepting them.

Kiran acknowledged the President of the Methodist Church in Fiji Reverend Ili Vunisuwai for stepping up and organising this event and also thanked the Prime Minister for having the courage to ask for forgiveness.

The Assistant Minister also asked for forgiveness for the way Indo-Fijians have treated the iTaukei and says that this reconciliation service has mended the bonds that were broken.



Girmit Day parade starts in Suva City

By Rashika Kumar
Monday 15/05/2023

The Girmit Day parade to Albert Park has started in Suva City.

The float is expected to arrive at the Park at about 9.15am where Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh will inspect it.

Rabuka and Dr. Singh and will also deliver their address later this morning.

There will also be performances on girmit by Fijian and Suriname artists.

Today is also the last day of the girmit exhibition at Albert Park.

Stay with us for updates.



Fiji Forward Declaration signed by PM and other leaders

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Monday 15/05/2023
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and leaders of religious organisations and some political parties have signed the Fiji Forward Declaration.

This is the process of building the nation together, understanding and working together as two of the largest races in Fiji.

The declaration states that we are the members of the various communities that have made Fiji their home where we gather to worship and seek forgiveness and declare our commitment to peace, unity and reconciliation.

Signing the declaration were Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad, Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry, Tunitoga Aisea Jack Komaitai, All Nations Church leader Reverend Epeli Ratabacaca, Head of the Catholic Church in Fiji Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, descendants of Girmityas and other religious leaders.

The reconciliation service was attended by the Marama Bale Na Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa, New Zealand High Commissioner Charlotte Darlow, Cabinet Ministers and families of the descendants of Girmityas.




Girmit is always tied to the idea of coercive labour regime and brutality – Dr Subramani

Ro Teimumu says schools should be teaching about Girmit
By Naveel Krishant
Monday 15/05/2023
USP academic and historian, Dr Anurag Subramani and USP academic and historian, Dr Anurag Subramani

USP academic and historian, Dr Anurag Subramani says indenture was a concealed form of slavery and Girmit is always tied to the idea of coercive labour regime and brutality and we cannot detach it from that.

While speaking on a special fijivillage Straight Talk With Vijay Narayan on Girmit, Dr Subramani says one of the biggest issues for him is the way history is taught in high schools.

Dr Subramani further says people seem to have forgotten or half remember the past traumatic events.

Dr Subramani adds at the moment, students are acquiring historical knowledge but they need to develop historical consciousness.

Marama Na Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa says schools should be teaching about Girmit and it should be put into the context of our history.

Ro Teimumu says for those who have not visited the museum, people in general would know very little of that part of our history.


Full video of the fijivillage Straight Talk.



Hundreds turn up at Albert Park for Girmit Day celebration

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Monday 15/05/2023

Hundreds of people turned up at Albert Park today to be part of the Girmit Day celebration.

The celebration began with a float and parade, starting from Suva Flea Market at 8 this morning.

Members of the Indo-Fijian communities and i-Taukei communities turned up in numbers including the Shree Sanatan Dharam Prathinidhi Sabha Fiji, the Fiji Muslim League, the villagers of Suvavou and descendants of Girmitiyas.

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad and India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Dr Rajkumar Ranjan Singh have made their address.

Suva City Council won the float competition winning $1,000, Fiji Sugar Corporation came in second place and won $500 cash, Digicel Samsung phone and $200 RC Manubhai Shopping voucher.

Suvavou Village won third place, winning $200 cash, and $150 shopping voucher from RC Manubhai.

Fijian and Suriname artists are currently performing at the Park.

Today is also the last day of the Girmit exhibition at Albert Park.

Stay with us for updates.




The extraordinary Girmit story is now the centre of a new national movement for peace and reconciliation - PM

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Monday 15/05/2023
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka

The extraordinary Girmit story is now the centre of a new national movement for peace and reconciliation, and it comes from the Methodist Church in Fiji.

This was the sentiment shared by Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka while officiating at the Girmit Day celebration at Albert Park.

Rabuka says what transpired yesterday at the Vodafone Arena, gives him new hope in his heart for Fiji.

He says it is critical for everyone to develop a collective memory of Fiji so that more knowledge is available about the Girmityas and the changes that came with them.

The Prime Minister says from 1879 to 1916, more than 60,000 people from India crossed the vast seas to our shores, and the last ship arrived in the country in 1916 before the Girmitya system or agreement system of labourers from India ended in 1920.

He says recognising the value of education, Girmitya groups organised themselves to build schools, and some still operate to this day catering to children from all of Fiji’s multi-racial population.

Rabuka says when they were campaigning last year for the December election, Girmit was on their agenda, and he felt that this aspect of Fiji’s history and the Girmityas should be given greater recognition.




We will not solve all the heartaches of the past in a week – Prof. Prasad

By Rashika Kumar
Monday 15/05/2023
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad

We will not solve all the heartaches of the past in a week and much work remains to be done, but it marked the end of an ugly chapter in our lives and the dawn of a new era.

This has been highlighted by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad during the Girmit Day celebration at Albert Park today.

He says yesterday’s Thanksgiving and Reconciliation Service by the Methodist Church of Fiji was a historic day of genuine display of love and righteousness where one community sought forgiveness from the other.

Professor Prasad says it marked another chapter of meeting of hearts between the descendants of the Girmitya and the iTaukei community, as well as other races of Fiji.

He says it is the beginning of an era where descendants of the Girmitya and their children can commemorate and share history with the nation, because the Prime Minister prioritised it.

The Deputy Prime Minister says the Indo Fijian community has immensely contributed to Fiji and it must continue doing so for Fiji’s advancement.

Professor Prasad adds our future is not to live in fear of one another or each other, but to build bridges with all, to join hands with every community to make Fiji a land of hope and opportunity.




Indian Minister of State for External Affairs reaffirms India’s strong commitment to working closely with Fiji

By Rashika Kumar
Monday 15/05/2023
Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh

Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh has reaffirmed India’s strong commitment to working closely with Fiji in its developmental journey.

While speaking during the Girmit Day celebration at Albert Park today, Dr. Singh says Girmit Day is a very special day in the relationship between India and Fiji.

He says he hopes the Girmit Day celebration will ensure that the rich history and heritage of girmityas and their descendants and most importantly the hard lessons learnt will be passed on to the future generations.

Dr. Singh has also acknowledged the Fijian government for declaring Girmit Day as a national holiday.

He says his visit is also a testimony to India’s special and enduring bond with Fiji, one that India is strongly committed to nurturing and taking to the next level.

The Minister says since the formation of the new government in Fiji, the number of high level meetings between Fiji and India has given new momentum and direction to the relationship.

He says the formation of the action oriented forum India Pacific Island corporation and the holding of the first PIFIC summit in Fiji during the historic visit of the Indian Prime Minister in 2014 underlines India’s strong desire to be close partners of the Pacific Island nations and readiness to work closely to advance their developmental agenda.

The Indian Minister adds it can also be seen from the back to back visit of the Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Biman Prasad to India and the visit of the External Affairs Minister to Fiji in February this year, to the upcoming meeting of Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi in the third PIFIC summit in Papua New Guinea next week.



Seruiratu and Chaudhry call on Prof. Prasad to step down to allow for investigations into Girmit Day

There is nothing untoward about the Global Girmit Institute – Prof. Prasad
By Rashika Kumar, Navitalai Naivalurua
Tuesday 16/05/2023
Leader of the Opposition, Inia Seruiratu and Leader of the Fiji Labour Party Mahendra Chaudhry

Leader of the Opposition, Inia Seruiratu and the Leader of the Fiji Labour Party Mahendra Chaudhry are calling on the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad to step down and allow for thorough investigations into the funding for Girmit Day while Professor Prasad says there is nothing untoward about the Global Girmit Institute and they are making defamatory statements against an organisation and those that are on it.

While speaking to fijivillage News on comments made by Seruiratu and Chaudhry, Professor Prasad says the critics have got it all wrong and they will provide full details about the spending.

He says the Ministry of Finance has very clear processes and every cent that goes to any activity will be accounted for as they have standard operating procedures.

The Deputy Prime Minister says the grants have been vetted by the Attorney General’s Office so any expenditure for the Summit, Girmit Celebration and Ratu Sukuna Day will be accounted for.

The Deputy Prime Minister says any money that has been expended to the Global Girmit Institute to run the conference is as per the budget approved by the national committee and it is a duly registered organisation.

He is asking what is the problem with that.

When asked about the Institute being re-registered in February just when Girmit Day was announced, Professor Prasad asks what has that got to do with anything.

He says when they expended the fund the Institute may have gone and re-registered because registration takes a long time.

Professor Prasad further says Seruiratu should stop listening to his de-facto leaders, have some spine and if he has anything, then he should bring it to Parliament.

He also asks in 16 years, how many times have they put out a budget for activities in Denarau or the Sheraton Resort.

Professor Prasad says theirs is a government that very openly puts out the budget, what they will do and how it will be spent.

He adds this is transparency and accountability, not what they did.

Professor Prasad says under the FijiFirst rule for 16 years, they suppressed the people, their rights and instead of calling him to step down and have an independent investigation into the funding for Girmit, they should look after themselves and worry about the mess they have left the country in.

He adds Seruiratu should be ashamed for asking such questions and sending a statement when they are commemorating and celebrating a very successful Girmit Day.

Meanwhile, Seruiratu says according to recent reports, $200,000 of taxpayers money was released two-months ago to the trustees of the Global Girmit Institute to pay for Girmit conference expenses including air-fares and accommodation for overseas speakers. He says the Global Girmit Institute which has on its board trustees, Dr Ganesh Chand and Professor Prasad’s wife was de-registered for failing to provide audited accounts for 5 years.

Seruiratu says however, the Institute was coincidentally registered again on the eve of the Finance Minister handing over hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money for non-Fijians to attend this talk fest.

He says the Prime Minister must launch a thorough and transparent public investigation.

He says any claims of alleged corruption and abuse of power that affect Fijians need to be seriously investigated immediately for the full accountability of Fijian taxpayers.

Seruiratu says they need a full account of what is going on with our money.

He says at this point, they call upon a totally independent investigator that is not influenced or pressured by the current Coalition Government as seems to be the case in many times.

He says FICAC, the Police and all independent institutions and all different arms of the State must be absolutely impartial to serve the people of Fiji and not on the winds of the elite.

Seruiratu says under the current circumstances they do not have confidence that the NFP Leader, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister and the Finance Minister will be held accountable for his actions and has been demonstrated by the lack of willingness by the Fijian media and the authorities to investigate allegations for abuse and corruption.

He adds the Girmityas and their descendants are not being served by Professor Prasad, giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to fly down speakers from overseas and accommodate them at expensive hotels, when the prices of goods and services for ordinary Fijians are spiraling out of control.

FLP Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry says he is aghast that Professor Prasad should crudely brush off as “verbal defecation” queries regarding the abuse of taxpayers money.

He says Professor Prasad owes the people a response relevant to the issues in question.

Chaudhry says when Professor Prasad was an opposition parliamentarian, he used to come through big and loud on transparency and accountability but now when he is questioned about funds he shows his true colours by resorting to foul language and personal abuse.

He is calling on the Deputy Prime Minister to cultivate some dignity and learn how to speak to fellow politicians especially when they are raising valid questions regarding public funds.

The FLP Leader says the Prime Minister should publicly chastise his Minister for such crude behaviour and in fact, he should be removed from office for all the misdemeanor he has thus far committed and the embarrassment he has caused to the Coalition government.

Chaudhry says this is the second time the Minister has been caught ‘with his pants down” so to speak.

He says the first was when he sneaked through a call for expressions of interest from individuals (not corporate organisations) to handle Girmit Day publicity, on the Fiji Government Facebook without putting out proper advertisements in the newspapers, as he should have.

The former Prime Minister says at that time the Minister said he had “no time for such garbage”.

Chaudhry says he is surprised that on both the occasions, the media have failed to hold him accountable.

He says the Finance Minister cannot evade legitimate questions from political parties on matters of public expenditure.

Chaudhry says they are demanding that he come clean and disclose the name(s) of the individual(s) awarded the Girmit Day publicity contract and the amount paid to the Global Girmit Institute and the details of the expenditure incurred by it together with the Commission paid to the Institute.

He adds audited accounts of the Girmit Day celebrations should be published for public information.



This is just gutter politics – Prof.Prasad

People will soon know how much the Girmit commemoration cost the taxpayers – Deputy PM
By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 17/05/2023
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Prof Biman Prasad at the Girmit Day celebrations at Albert Park last week

I am accountable to the Prime Minister, Cabinet and taxpayers of Fiji, not to unscrupulous politicians who shamelessly insult the Girmitiya and their descendants with their gutter-level comments.

This is the response of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad after being accused by Leader of the Opposition Inia Seruiratu and Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry of giving $200,000 to the Global Girmit Institute.

Professor Prasad who is the Leader of the National Federation Party says its abundantly clear that detractors of the coalition government are resorting to gutter politics because they cannot digest the resounding success of the Girmit Day commemoration including the international Girmit Conference.

He says the money was given to the Global Girmit Institute not as a payout, but as a grant specifically for the conference, under an agreement vetted by the Solicitor General’s Office.

Professor Prasad says both Seruiratu and Chaudhry claim Professor Prasad paid the money because his wife Dr Rajni Chand is a trustee of Global Girmit Institute. He says the Opposition Leader even accused Professor Prasad of giving the money to his wife.

The Deputy Prime Minister says this is lunacy.

He asks if the Ministry of Finance releases a grant to USP where Dr Rajni Chand is employed, does it mean that he is giving money to her and not to USP.

The Deputy Prime Minister says their malicious claim is similar to the attacks directed at him over the $360,000 estimated budget of the National Economic Summit.

Professor Prasad says after he publicly revealed that the total cost of the two day Summit of over 500 delegates was around $281,000 and that taxpayers paid only $111,000 of this amount because $170,000 was secured through sponsorship, the critics shut their mouths.

He says now they have found another issue to spew lies and gutter comments.

The Deputy Prime Minister says the problem with Seruiratu is that he is a puppet of his political masters who are no longer in Parliament but that is his choice.

He says if Seruiratu wants to be acid-tongued and belligerent, he is only fast-tracking his own political demise.

Professor Prasad says Mahendra Chaudhry’s political track record is no secret.

He says here is a person who employed his son as his private secretary and claimed housing allowance when staying in his own house as Prime Minister.

Professor Prasad says this shows that Chaudhry is only good at nit-picking, and this is being thoroughly dishonest.

He says just like the expenditure for the National Economic Summit, the people of Fiji will soon know how much the Girmit commemoration cost the taxpayers, including accountability of the international conference.


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