President honors Girmityas' legacy on Girmit Day

May 13, 2024 12:52 pm

President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere has today saluted the Girmityas for choosing Fiji as their home.

Speaking at the Girmit Day celebrations in Lautoka this morning, Ratu Wiliame says Fiji acknowledges the journey of the Girmityas from 14th May 1879 to 1916, to a land that was unknown to them.

He adds the Girmityas tenacious spirit to endure the hardships of their time cannot be forgotten.

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The President says some indentured labourers decided to return when the Girmit era ended, while others made Fiji their home.

“They leased lands to plant sugar cane, the crop which had been the strength of our nation’s economy and one that we value as part of our history. 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 contributions in building a new Fiji.”

Ratu Wiliame says the Girmityas 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 labor in the cane fields, building roads, and laying the foundation of many of the settlements and villages that we live in today. Many of these Girmityas are successful business owners, farmers, professionals, and skilled workers, contributing to the country’s economic prosperity and development. Commerce and education were their cornerstone.”


The President says their contributions has also given Fiji a unique strength in terms of its economy in the Pacific region.

He states that Fiji has benefited and we will continue to benefit through the hard work in these areas.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Journey of Girmit Descendants in Building a New Fiji”.