Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during the 143rd anniversary of the arrival of the girmityas [Source: Fijian Government]
Fijians learn very little about Girmitiyas and some don’t learn at all.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says it pains to know that so few ever knew the full breadth of the brutal reality about Girmitiyas.
Bainimarama says everyone should know this story and it should have been taught in schools from the day we gained our independence.
“It is a part of our history, and we must know our history—not just the triumphs and the glories, but the injustices and the blemishes. I believe that if past governments had done this, we would have avoided the worst tragedies to befall the nation”.
Bainimarama says the colonial government never accepted the Gimrityas as equal human beings, much less as full Fijians.
He adds what was painfully true for the first Girmityas was perhaps even more painful for their descendants, for whom Fiji was the only home they had ever known.
“How can we expect our children to sit in social studies class and learn to speak the truth, to love our country, and to respect and hold compassion for their fellow Fijians, when they see that some politicians don’t care about historical facts.”
The Prime Minister says this was their country, and they were Fijians.
He however adds that they were not treated as Fijians and they weren’t even given the right to be called Fijians.
He adds the Girmitiyas founded schools and started businesses and their food, festivals, and traditions added richness to our cultural fabric.
Bainimarama says roti and curry were introduced by the Girmityas.