The growing apathy of the younger generation towards Girmit and Girmitiyas, respectively the bonder labour scheme and the victims of it, has prompted a few community leaders in Auckland to establish an organisation with specific goals.
Called, ‘Fiji Girmit Foundation New Zealand,’ the new organisation will conduct the ‘Girmit Remembrance Day’, on May 18, 2013 at Skipton Arst Hall, located at 53 Skipton Street in the South Auckland suburb of Mangere.
The infamous indenture period began with the arrival of the first load of Indians from India on May 14, 1879. The men and women and their succeeding generations suffered humiliation, hardship torture and inhuman living and working conditions for the next 37 years. The Girmit system was abolished in 1916 but the damage had been done- thousands had perished through ill-health and suicide.
Interim Chairman Devakar Prasad said that the forthcoming ‘Girmit Remembrance Day’ would provide an opportunity to Indo-Fijians to remember their ancestors and pay homage to them.
“It is a day to remember their sufferings and sacrifices, through speeches, poems, anecdotes and tales of the past. The event would enable Indo-Fijians, especially our young children to understand and appreciate the tumultuous past of their ancestors who lived in the 19th and 20th centuries,” he said.
Harnam Singh Golian, a senior community leader and one of the members of the Foundation, said, “The organisation hopes and desires to reconnect, reclaim and restore our early history to our children who have little or no knowledge of the Girmit era. We intend to strengthen our unique Indo-Fijian culture, language, customs and traditions and ensure that our children remain connected to the jewels of their inheritance.”
What: Girmit Remembrance Day
Who: Fiji Girmit Foundation New Zealand
When: Saturday, May 18 at 130 pm
Where: Skipton Arst Hall, 53 Skipton Street