His Excellency the President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere says Fiji cultural diversity has presented us with the privilege to hear and learn many languages spoken in Fiji.
Speaking at the opening of 12th World Hindi Conference, Ratu Wiliame said that in Fiji we experience fascinating festivals and religious events throughout the year, listen to a variety of music, enjoy different culinary experiences, and witness unique cultural rites of passage accorded by different ethnic communities that make-up Fiji.
He said that Hindi is one of the three official languages in Fiji.
“Hindi that is spoken in Fiji, is commonly known as Fiji-Hindi or Fiji Baat, which is derived from varieties of Hindi that were used by indentured labourers during the indentured system era which varies from the traditional Hindi, spoken in India.”
“Hindi vernacular is a mandated subject for the students in Fiji’s primary schools and optional in secondary and tertiary levels. More recently, Hindi and the iTaukei (Indigenous) language translation has been re-introduced into Parliament sessions,” he added.
The President said this year’s World Hindi Conference is appropriate, given that the United Nations has recognised this decade (2022-2032) as the UN International Decade of Indigenous Languages.
He added that as one of the top five most spoken languages in the world, the efforts by the Government of India for the promotion of Hindi at the international level, and to get Hindi recognised as an official UN language – is commendable.
“Language plays a pivotal role in preserving culture as it establish a distinctive linguistic identity that brings a feeling of belonging, mutual respect, and trust in each other,” Ratu Wiliame said.