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President salutes Girmityas for choosing Fiji

His Excellency, President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere has saluted the Girmityas (Indian indentured labourers) for choosing Fiji as their home.

Officiating at the Girmit Day celebrations in Lautoka, Ratu Wiliame said while a portion returned to India, the majority of Girmitiyas remained and established roots in Fiji.

“They leased land to plant sugarcane, the crop which has been the strength of our nation’s economy and one that we value as part of our history.”

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“We also pay tribute to their posterity that took the baton from them to make Fiji a prosperous nation, therefore we remember their sacrifices, struggles and contribution in building a new Fiji.”

He said the Girmitiyas have played a crucial role in Fiji’s economy, particularly in sectors such as agriculture, commerce, and small-scale entrepreneurship.

“They supplied much of the hard labour in cane fields, building roads and laying the foundations of many of the settlements and villages that we live in today.”

“Many of this Girmitiyas are successful business owners, farmers, professionals, and skilled workers, contributing to the country’s economic prosperity and development.”

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“Commerce and education were their cornerstone.This has also given Fiji a unique strength in terms of its economy in the Pacific Region. We all have benefitted and will continue to benefit through their hard work in these areas.”

“But one of their greatest legacies was borne from the value they placed in education, which is the pillar for change in the societies and invested into setting up the schools and education system in Fiji to build the knowledge based, skills, abilities and institutions of success and progress.”

“Therefore, the legacy of the indenture system in Fiji is inspirational and profound. One of the significant changes was that Fiji also became a multi-racial country.”

Ratu Wiliame said the Indians had brought their rich cultural heritage to Fiji, contributing to its vibrant multicultural society.

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“Their traditions, languages, cuisine, music, and festivals have added depth and diversity to Fiji’s cultural landscape, fostering a sense of inclusivity and mutual understanding among its people.”

“Through this intercultural dialogue, community engagement, and initiatives has aimed at bridging ethnic-cohesion and they have helped nurture a more inclusive and unified society.”

“The citizens of Indian Descendants and i-Taukei interactions has shaped the total socio-cultural environment in which both groups inhabit. So, as you remember the years back, think about the many interactions you have each day with other multi-cultural groups in Fiji.”

“On this Girmit Day, we remember the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity. We remember the sacrifices that laid the foundation for the multi-cultural society that we all call home.”

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President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere speaks during the Girmit Day celebration at Shirley Park in Lautoka. Photos courtesy of Fiji Government.

“Let us keep the authenticity of our respective cultures and genuinely appreciate the diversity that each ethnic group brings to the table. As we move forward as a nation,”

“I urge every Fiji citizen to strive for tolerance and understanding in our actions, and maintain the values of inclusivity, respect, and compassion for the betterment of all our people and our nation.”

Reginald Chandar
Reginald Chandar
Head of News & Sports | news@fijilive.com

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