Through intercultural dialogue govt aims to bridge ethnic cohesion – Ratu Wiliame

Through intercultural dialogue govt aims to bridge ethnic cohesion – Ratu Wiliame

By Mansi Chand
Monday 13/05/2024
President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere awarding Girmit Descendants

Through the Girmit Day intercultural dialogue, community engagement and initiatives, the government aims to bridge ethnic-cohesion and helped nurture a more inclusive and unified society.

President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere highlighted this while officiating the last day of the Girmit celebration at the Girmit Centre in Lautoka.

The President says we reflect and cherish the impactful contribution that the descendants of Girmitiyas have had and continue to demonstrate in improving the socio-economic standards and shaping the nation's economy.

Ratu Wiliame says the decision was made over a century ago by the then authority officials to bring shiploads of labour force across the ocean is historical and it is deeply embedded in the history books and conversations.

He says 145 years ago, 463 indentured labourers from India arrived on our shores and between 1879 to 1916 about 60,533 Indo-Fijians were brought to Fiji.

The President says he acknowledges their journey and existence that was punctuated with insurmountable challenges as the sheer resilience in the face of adversity can never be forgotten.

ratu-wiliame2

He says people remember their struggles, sacrifice and contribution to building a better Fiji as they have played a crucial role in Fiji’s economy, particularly in sectors such as agriculture, commerce and small-scale business.

Ratu Wiliame says Indo-Fijians brought their rich cultural heritage to Fiji contributing to its vibrant multicultural society and their traditions, music, cuisine, language and festivals have added depth to Fiji's cultural landscape fostering inclusivity.

He further says the citizens of Indian descendants and i-Taukei interactions have shaped the total socio-cultural environment in which both groups inhabit.

He adds that he is also happy to hear that the three-day commemoration at the Lautoka Girmit Multi-Cultural Centre had an event full of folk, cultural and traditional performances from the school students, women’s groups, religious groups and artists which shows that the tradition and practices have been inherited and passed on from generation to generation.

The descendants of Girmitiyas also received recognition awards from the President.

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