While societies all around the world struggle to inspire younger generations to hold, cherish, and respect the ethos of their culture, the urge is more predominant amongst the descendants of Girmitiyas of Fiji.
This urge has a basis in the fact that the history has not been kind, or say, those who have written the history, had an institutionalised bias against the stories of Indians who left or were forced to leave their homeland to distant remote lands.
The story of Indians arriving in the South Pacific heaven of Fiji, originally called Girmitiyas, is one such story which has not received much justice in the past.
And when history has not been kind, then the only natural urge is to rely on its own to keep one’s stories alive or say record their stories, so as to pass on something meaningful to its future generation.
The story of Girmitiyas of Fiji has been largely reflective of this botheration, which needs amelioration.
Towards this goal, the Indian Weekender is reaching out to the members of Fiji-Indian community in New Zealand, and beyond, to come and share their Girmit story.
The Indian Weekender is committed to relay their stories and celebrate the indomitable spirit of the Girmitiyas amongst the wider Indian diaspora.
This week the Indian Weekender spoke with Nek Mohammad, a prominent member of the Fiji-Indian community, a successful businessman and one of the founding members of the Fiji Girmit Foundation of New Zealand.
Here are the excerpts of the interview.
Do you have a Girmit story?
Mr Mohammad: I have been an integral part of the Fiji Girmit Association of New Zealand and founding member of the association. I have been involved with the project trying to pursue younger generation to get them know more about Girmit and what Girmit Day is all about.
Is the heritage of Girmit losing relevance among the younger generation?
Mr Mohammad: Yes indeed, there is a concern that our younger generations are losing the relevance of our Girmit heritage. This concern drives our majority of actions at the Fiji Girmit Foundation of NZ
How do you think can this be resurrected?
Mr Mohammad: We initiated endeavours like Project Nasilai where we sought commemorating the lives of 59 Indian labourers killed in a ship disaster on the coast of Fiji, and thanking the rescue efforts of the native Fijians in saving 438 people, purely because of the reason to educate our youngsters about the trials and tribulations of our forefathers.
We thank the Indian Weekender for taking the lead and putting the focus on our Girmit past. It means a lot to us.
What is your message to the younger generations in the Fiji-Indian community?
Mr Mohammad: Be proud of your Indian heritage. Stay connected with your roots.
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