Betrayal and misfortune hit Girmitiyas

When my grandparents Rahim Buksh (Lucknow) and Begum Mariam Bibi (Patna) arrived in Fiji aboard Mutla 11 as indentured labourers in 1911, they were unaware of the atrocities that would befall on them.

They were also unaware that their hope for better living and working conditions would became a nightmare of assaults and insults.

Their ship landed in Saweni, Lautoka and the British employers took my great grandparents and others from the port to different areas to work, including laying railway tracks, coffee and sugar plantations and farms.

They were not aware of being a part of the Girmit system.

After many years, Rahim and Mariyam were married and settled in the province of Ba.

They raised a large family of sons and daughters.

My father, the late Abdul Karim was the fourth child in the family, with an elder brother and two elder sisters. He also had two younger brothers and sisters.

He was born in Lutuwa, Tunuku Ba on February 28, 1921. Raised in the same district he went to private and other school to learn English, Arabic, Hindi and Urdu.

He was a Molvi before his first marriage. In his early 20s, he campaigned against violence and corruption and involved in community work.

He was also very talented man and worked as a farmer, carpenter and fisherman.

Abdul Abbas is the owner of AAK Signs based in Auckland.

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