A TERRIBLE, unjust system – indentured labour – was ended in Fiji 100 years ago this month. Known as girmit, the practice of recruiting labourers in India to work for a pittance on farms in Fiji lasted an agonising 37 years.
Some of those labourers were tricked into making the voyage, others left India in search of a better life or to escape family or societal demands and pressues. When indenture finally ended, the girmit and their descendants often found that despite their massive contributions to agriculture, commerce and education, they lived in a land in which they were not always made to feel welcome.
Despite the words of inclusivity and the apparent national propensity towards multi-culturalism, the events of 1987 and 2000 showed that these were mere platitudes. It is important for Fijians – which is what Fiji’s people are called post the 2006 coup – why the Indian community has been treated this way when it has done so much to contribute to the development of Fiji as a nation.
Some will argue that the worrying then continues to this day despite Constitutional change, a common name and the one person-one vote electoral system.
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