Alisha Prasad Yaad Karo

  • Tauira / Student
    Alisha Prasad
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Katie Kerr, David Coventon

Yaad Karo is a publication that tells the stories and lived experiences through significant objects of Indo-Fijian Girmitiyas (Fiji Hindi word for Indentured Labourers brought from India to Fiji by British colonial forces). As a descendant of Girmitiya, this publication is about connecting through my design to my community, history, and ancestors, and aims to contribute to the collective understanding of the history of Indo-Fijian indentured labour.

Girmit was an indentured labour system that started in 1833 as an alternative source of cheap labour to European colonies after the abolition of slavery. Up until 1916, over 60,500 indentured labourers from India were transported to Fiji to work on sugarcane plantations. On the plantations, the Girmitiyas were faced with an onslaught of gruelling circumstances and harsh conditions but through this they showed strength, courage and resilience.

Yaad Karo inquires and explores how object making can convey oral histories and personal stories of not only my family but my ancestors as well. I researched, designed, and made the objects through the methodological frameworks of embodied cultural practice, oral histories and being an insider researcher.

The work showcases the journey of the Girmityas over the kala pani (black water), their lives on sugarcane plantations and what got them through the exhausting labour required of them. Due to erasure of Indo-Fijian history, engaging with these cultural objects through researching and making is one of the only ways in which I can connect to my ancestors and histories. For young Indo-Fijians who are a part of the diaspora, who may not have a deep comprehension of their own ancestral history, this publication acts as an entry point into greater discussions and learning.

Yaad Karo in Fiji Hindi means to remember, it is an act. The title is a call to action for the Indo-Fijian community to remember our histories which have all but been erased. Yaad Karo is calling on us, descendants of indentured labour, to remember and engage with our collective past.