14 May 2019

Legacy of Fiji's Girmitiya bittersweet

From , 3:03 pm on 14 May 2019

It's 140 years today since indentured labourers - the so-called Girmitiya - first arrived in Fiji to work on colonial plantations in harsh conditions.

A vessel called the Leonidas arrived on May the 14th in 1879 carrying nearly 500 workers from India.

In total up to 60,500 Indians were transported to the then British colony up until 1916 when the system was abolished.

Senior lecturer in economics at the University of the South Pacific, Neelesh Gounder, told Sally Round the Girmitiya's legacy is bittersweet.

Girmitiya people in Fiji

Girmitiya people in Fiji Photo: Ministry of External Affairs / Government of India