The youngsters within the Fiji Girmit Foundation of New Zealand (FGFNZ) are widely expected to bring the long-awaited, fresh lease of energy and passion when they lead the celebrations of the 140th anniversary of Fiji Girmit Remembrance Day.

A mega commemorative event to mark the occasion of Fiji Girmit Remembrance Day (May 14) is planned on Friday, May 10, at ARST Community Hall, Mangere, Auckland, where a newly anointed young executive committee is expected to lead the change in the future in the manner traditionally this most critical day of Fiji-Indian history has been celebrated.

Since 2013 when the FGFNZ was first formed In New Zealand, several commemorative events have been organised regularly, to mark the importance of May 14 in Fiji Indian community’s history.

Traditionally, these commemorative events have been marked, and rightly though, with an intense expression of pain and grief associated with the extremely miserable plight of the first generations of Girmitiyas under the exploitative British-colonial regime.

However, there has been a growing view within the section of the community, especially within the youngsters, to move away from that visible expression of intense pain and grief around the most important day of their collective history and identity.

In fact, there had been an increasing number of muted voices within the community to make the celebrations more an expression of hopefulness, if not joyfulness, to make it more palatable for the current and the future generations of the Fiji-Indian community.

Toward this goal, the fact that this year the baton has been passed to the young executive team of FGFNZ, led by its youth Trustee Krish Naidu, as President, and Kirti Singh and Nikhil Kumar as Vice Presidents and Ashfaaq Khan as the Chairperson is much appreciated, and hopefully can bring the long desired change within the Fiji-Indian community.

Earlier last year Mr Naidu was in the Indian Weekender’s studio as a part of its coverage of Fiji-Girmit Remembrance Day sharing his passion about rejuvenating the Fiji-Indian youths in New Zealand to make them aware and proud about their mutually shared Girmit past so that it can be duly preserved and passed on to the future generations.

“I think a lot of our Fiji-Indian young generation are very proud of their heritage. However there has been a lacking in terms of acknowledging and celebrating the history and remembering the day [Girmit Day] for quite some time,” Mr Naidu had then told the Indian Weekender.

Mutually shared concerns of youth apathy towards Girmit past

It is important to note that for long the first-generation leaders of Fiji Girmit Foundation of New Zealand (FGFNZ) had acknowledged the apparent lack of interest within the youngsters in the community to appreciate the trials and tribulations of their forefathers.

Many of the founding Trustees and members of FGFNZ who were at the Indian Weekender’s studio as a part of its Girmit Day coverage, such as Sardar Harnam Singh Golian, Viren Lal, Master Shio Charan, and Nek Mohammad had unequivocally expressed their concerns about the perceived apathy within youths in Fiji-Indian community to acknowledge and preserve the Girmit history.

In this regard, the willingness of the older generation to pass the baton this year to a young executive team, and the youngsters’ readiness to take charge, is much commendable and hopefully could create some notable connections within the Fiji-Indian youths.

However, will this young and energetic team be eventually able to walk the talk remains to be seen in the near future?

The Indian Weekender extends best wishes to the newly anointed executive team in their collective endeavour of preserving and celebrating the Fiji Girmit past.

More about the event

The programme would include speeches and cultural items, presented by the descendants of the Girmityas.

However, above and beyond the traditional offerings, this year’s Remembrance Day program will strive to be an occasion to celebrate the Fiji-Indian identity and the contributions they had made to Fiji, Pacific and NZ, culturally, socially and economically.