Recognising and upholding the values of our ancestors is a path to progress for Fiji – Professor Prasad

Recognising and upholding the values of our ancestors is a path to progress for Fiji – Professor Prasad

By Mosese Raqio
Saturday 11/05/2024
Source : Fiji Government

The Coalition Government strongly believes that recognizing and upholding the values and blessings of our ancestors is a path to progress towards a new vision for our beloved nation.

This was highlighted by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad while officiating at the 145th Girmit commemoration at the Girmit Multicultural Centre in Lautoka this morning.

Professor Prasad says the theme “Journey of Girmit Descendants in Building a New Fiji” goes hand in hand with the Coalition Government’s national objective of promoting social cohesion and recognizing the diverse contribution of ethnic communities in the progress and prosperity of Fiji.

He says it was also highly symbolic for him to launch the start of an event in a place known as Sugar City because he came from the rice fields of Muanidevo in Dreketi, Vanua Levu.

He adds more than 60,000 indentured labourers from India were shipped across to Fiji between May 14 1879, and 11th November 1916, in treacherous conditions by the British Colonial Masters as the vast British Empire ruled both India and Fiji amongst many, many other nations.

Professor Prasad says as descendants of the Girmitiya, they have and can trace their ancestry, thanks to the availability of the Immigrant pass.

He says whether members of the Indo-Fijian diaspora are here or settled abroad, it is our patriotic duty to our motherland, the land of our birth to ensure that our beloved nation is a beacon of hope and land of opportunity.

He further says the Coalition government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has recognised this invaluable contribution of the Girmitiya and their descendants by declaring Girmit Day as a public holiday.

The Deputy PM says this is not celebrating indenture or slavery, as a political leader quite preposterously claimed a few days ago, but it is a celebration of our forefathers’ determination to triumph over slavery or servitude and make Fiji their new home which they succeeded because of their unshakable principles of dignity, equality, justice and self-respect.

He says that it is a strange twist of fate that apart from marking the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Girmitiya in 1979, no government in our post-independent history had declared a public holiday to celebrate the life of our forefathers.

Professor Prasad says Fiji is the motherland of the Indo-Fijians or descendants of the Girmitiyas, just as it is for our indigenous people.

He adds both communities have a diaspora overseas, but even those who have migrated cannot abandon their motherland.

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