The 184th anniversary of the arrival of indentured labourers in Mauritius was commemorated on Friday 02 November 2018 at the Aapravasi Ghat World Heritage Site, Trou Fanfaron Wharf, Port-Louis.
The Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, the Minister Mentor, Minister of Defence, Minister for Rodrigues, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, Mr Ivan Leslie Collendavelloo, the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Prithvirajsing Roopun, the Speaker of the Bihar Legislative Assembly and President of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Bihar Branch, Mr Vijay Kumar Choudhary, and several other ministers and eminent personalities were present on the occasion.
In his address, the Prime Minister paid tribute to the indentured labourers and pointed out that this annual celebration reminds the population of the huge sacrifices, tribulations and determination of the indentured labourers in the face of great adversity. The seed of the Mauritian nation, he said, was sown by the indentured labourers which is based on the principle of tolerance, mutual respect, and sharing. They suffered a great deal but preserved their cultures and contributed significantly to the development of Mauritius, he added.
He further traced the different stages and places associated with the history of indenture in Mauritius. He also spoke of the contributions of the great Mauritian missionary Mr Basdeo Bissoondoyal, and Mr Sookdeo Bissoondoyal who strived for the political enhancement of the country and advocated the speaking of Hindi language. On this score he underlined that Mauritians should not forget their history but should in fact get an in- depth knowledge of the history of indenture and propagate it to future generations.
Moreover, Prime Minister Jugnauth underpinned that Mauritians should get inspired from the lives and era of the indentured labourers. During that time, he indicated, there was no division in the society in the name of caste, creed, color, race or ethnicity but instead the values of cooperation, unity and solidarity prevailed. To this regard, he underlined that Government will work continuously to preserve these values brought by our forefathers.
He also mentioned about the progress and ranking of the country on the international front as regards the Mo Ibrahim Index and the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Report where Mauritius stood first in the African region and at the 20th position respectively. To that end, he pointed out that the efforts of our forefathers are yielding its fruits.
As for the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Prithvirajsing Roopun, he underlined that the Aapravasi Ghat which forms a cornerstone of the Mauritian national cultural heritage got international recognition in 2006 whereby it was listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
He stated that almost two centuries ago the arrival of the indentured labourers marked the beginning of the Identured era which led to the migration of more than two million Indentured labourers. They brought their culture and implanted it into Mauritius and this marked the developments of a multi-cultural society, he said. He also called for the preservation and valorisation of the world heritage site.
For his part, the Speaker of the Bihar Legislative Assembly, Mr Vijay Kumar Choudhary, underlined that it is a great privilege and honour to be the Chief guest for the celebration of the 184th anniversary of the Arrival of indentured labourers in Mauritius.
Speaking on the Aapravasi Ghat World Heritage Site, he stated that it symbolises the umbilical relations that exist between the two countries. The climbing of the first 16 steps, he indicated, have brought the indentured labourers nearer to the Mauritian colonial reality and helped in shaping the destiny of Mauritius as well as promote the social, economic and political fabric of the country. He also dwelt on the similarities that both countries share in terms of their culture, traditions and festivals adding that even our encouragement, and inner strength come from the same source.
Furthermore he highlighted that Mauritius is one of the most established and democratic country in the South African region. The key to the democratic success of Mauritius, he said, is defined by the peaceful cohesion and the plurality of cultures that reigns in the country. As regards to the bilateral relations that exist between Mauritius and India, he underlined that it is the closest one compared to the bilateral relations that India share with other countries. He expressed optimism that India and Mauritius will continue to work very hard to take the bilateral ties to unprecedented heights.
Mr Vijay Kumar Choudhary also announced that Prime Minister Jugnauth will be the Chief guest for the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention which will be held from 21 to 23 January 2018 in Varanasi, India.
The commemorative ceremony organised by the Ministry of Arts and Culture in collaboration with the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund comprised a wreath-laying ceremony, cultural performances, launching of a book entitled Flat Island and award of prizes to winners of an art competition on the theme Visions of the Past.