May 15th 2023
Naivilaca Village in Rewa Declared a ‘Peace’ Village | Girmit Day
Naivilaca Village in Rewa was declared a ‘Peace’ Village’ as part of the Girmit Day celebrations. This gesture will be accorded to the villagers to commemorate the efforts of their forefathers in rescuing Girmitiyas from the shipwrecked Syria on Nasilai Reef in 1884 and for providing a resting place to those who lost their lives in the incident. (Fiji Village, 2023)
This village stands witness to the development of communal race relations in Fiji. On the night of 11 May 1884 when the Indian immigrant Ship, Syria, carrying 497 indentured labourers (Girmitiyas), was wrecked on Nasilai Reef, The Naivilaca villagers showed perseverance, courage, and devotion and were the first to rescue most of the stranded girmitiyas. Help from the colonial administrators only reached two days later. the villagers sheltered the survivors with great kindness and cordiality offering them food and fruit. They also committed themselves to burying the deceased and maintaining the gravesites.
In 2017, the vanua of Noco in Rewa bestowed the descendants of the Girmitiyas with the i cavuti *a ne Itaukei identity) of Luvedra Na Ratu (Children of the Chief) This symbolism even cemented a sacred relationship between the two races and preserved the Syria narrative as a path to foster inter-ethnic relations for future generations.