“Fiji – the way the world should be” has a very agonising and a distressing history. Our great grandparents, our grandparents the so many Bachusardars, Sirtajis, Puranwasi’s came from India to serve their Indenture in Fiji – to work in the sugar cane plantations, in harsh and unrelenting conditions.
The slave trade was officially abolished throughout the British Empire in 1807. This documentary reveals one of Britain’s darkest secrets: a form of slavery that continued well into the 20th century – the story of Indian indentured labour.
Coolies: How Britain Reinvented Slavery tells the astonishing and controversial story of the systematic recruitment and migration of over a million Indians to all corners of the Empire. It is a chapter in colonial history that implicates figures at the very highest level of the British establishment and has defined the demographic shape of the modern world.
Combining archive footage and historical evidence the programme includes interviews with Gandhi’s great-grandaughter, Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie, about Gandhi’s campaign to end indentured labour and Dr Brij V Lal – author and academic – whose a descendant of an indentured labourer.
This video is the story of the Girmitiyas, the Coolies, the Indentured Labourers, who we descendant from, and who were lured by the British agents of a better future than in India, promised of wealth and freedom and to board those ships to a 3-month long journey to Fiji. They must have left India with a vision to build a better future and they did despite the atrocities, the hardship and the struggles by the hands of the British overseers and landlords. Indenture system was a new system of slavery by the British Empire. It basically meant that a person was signing away their freedom for a certain duration of time, 2 years, 5 years, and 10 years. Our people believed what they were told, They had no idea what they were signing or putting their thumbprint on. They literately were signing their lives away. Watching the BBC documentary made me realize the sacrifices, the difficulties our people faced at that time. Their stories have been forgotten, lost in history.