The Fijian Government will honour the indentured labourers or “Girmitiyas” with first-ever Girmit Museum.
Ministry of Economy is now calling for expressions of interest (EOI) for suitable land to begin the museum’s development.
On 14th May 1879, under the whips of British, the first ship carrying indentured laboureres from British India aarived on Fijian shores.
Year 2019 marks the 140th Anniversary of the arrival of that vessel, the Leonidas, and that start of the Girmit era in Fiji, during which nearly 61,000 women and men from British colonialised India were brought to Fiji to carry out back-breaking labour under inhumane and slave-like conditions.
“On this deeply sombre and significant occasion, we remember the cruel severity that defined the girmitiyas’ struggle, the legacy of their unbroken perseverance and immensity of their ultimate triumph in the face of great adversity,” says Ministry of Economy.
Ministry of Economy says, tragically, the story of the girmitiyas in Fiji was not widely told or acknowledged for the vast majority of Fijian history. But on this momentous anniversary, the Fijian Government is proud to announce that – as included in the 2011819 National Budget – preparations are underway to forever preserve the history of the Girmit era through the establishment of Fiji’s first-ever national museum dedicated to the girmitiyas in Fiji.
“This national museum will highlight and promote the lives, stories and contributions of the girmitiyas in our country, giving the Fijian people, and visitors to Fiji, an unparalleled education of one of the darkest, yet most inspiring chapters in Fiji’s history.”
“Through artefacts, historical documents and enaging displays, the museum will tell the Fijian story through the lens of the girmitiyas’ history and culture, providing audiences with an intimate look at how Fijian values and traditions have been shaped by the contributions of the girmitiyas and their descendants.