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Girmitiyas told of common Fijian name


Aug 02, 2009 12:00:00 AM

Fiji’s Prime Minister has told descendants of Indian indentured labourers in Fiji of plans to have a common national identity to eliminate racial discrimination.

Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said national identity through a common name is also critical in building social cohesion.

He said Fiji’s peoples have been divided often due to their focus on their differences rather than common shared values and interests.

“When the Indenture System ended, the institutionalizations in this country continued. The end result of this has been a past riddled with conflicts and tension between our two major ethnic groups, much to the detriment to our future and progress as an emerging developing country,” he said while speaking at the closing of the week-long Girmit festival in Nausori Town yesterday.

“We must all change for our common good, as one nation and as one people, and through our shared vision and values for a common national destiny.”

Bainimarama spoke of a new constitution that will be “fair” and “just” and provide a “solid foundation” for rebuilding the nation.

“Our electoral process will be reviewed to promote racial tolerance and unity and eliminate ethnic-based politics which has been a serious impediment to national development, over the years,” he added.

Bainimarama ended the celebrations, for 130 years anniversary of the arrival of Girmitiya’s to Fiji, at a jam-packed Syria Park, Nausori last night.

Apart from the fanfare, food stalls and joy rides at the Girmit Festival, Girmit Council president Vijendra Prakash said the event also provided an opportunity for the younger generation to learn the ways of life during the indenture system.

The council had hoped to raise $40,000 to create a museum for Girmitiya artifacts.

Descendents of the Girmitiya now make up less than a third of Fiji’s population.


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