[Source: Fijian Government]
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama today remembered the challenges faced by the girmityas since their arrival in 1879.
Today marks the 143rd anniversary of the arrival of the girmityas as their ship Leonidas docked in Levuka.
Bainimarama says the girmityas endured years of backbreaking labour under brutal conditions and performed the hardest work of working cane fields, farming copra, laying brick, and carving out roads.
“They lived under constant threat of abuse and sexual assault. –– whether you were called a slave or a servant, a thrashing cuts the same. Rape is rape. Abuse is abuse. The conditions were so terrible it was not uncommon for labourers to be driven to suicide.”
Bainimarama adds that the girmityas chose Fiji as their home once the indentured system ended and has since contributed immensely to the growth of the country.
“They remained because they made the best out of those circumstances through wonderful contributions to the nation in agriculture, education, medicine, and literature. They founded schools and started businesses. Their food, festivals, and traditions added richness to our cultural fabric.”
The 143rd anniversary is being celebrated all around the country with different events.