Thakur Ranjit Singh
The hill above our home is grazing land and overlooks the river, the valley and … the unbroken “Karia Pahaad” the Black Mountain range. I have often stood on this hill above our home. Even in sorrow, it has a refreshing and recuperative effect…Even in stillness one can almost feel the powerful presence of the spirits of sorrow and grief exuding from these sugarcane fields. They are the spirits of our ancestors… The sugar industry in Fiji was established with the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors...
In his second book, Enslaved in Paradise-A History of Mammoth Betrayals of Fijians by the British, Chiefs and Leaders of Fiji 1879-2006, he continues with similar chain of thoughts….
I have grieved in the stillness of the night and, in the deep peal of thunder, I have heard the muffled cries of our ancestors, imploring us, their descendants, to ensure that their pain and suffering during the indenture period in Fiji, was not lost in the mist of time…
|The cover of author, Rajendra Prasad's first book, Tears in Paradise, which also corrects many distortions and misinformation of Fiji's Girmit History as told by the British.|
Most, if not all, Fiji history books by Fijians have been written by academics. This is because, with privileged comforts of university campuses, they have all the time in the world, while on full pay and with university resources, to do what this author did without all those advantages.
|The author, Rajendra Prasad, a very private and humble person, who writes from heart and with passion to seek justice for atrocities caused to Girmitiyas- indentured labourers to Fiji.|
Despite his marvellous feats in intellectual fields, he does not belong to the rich and influential elite of the Indian or Fijian cocktail circuit in Auckland. He cannot be considered rich as he never ran after materialistic wealth, but invested in intellectual ones. You will never see him in any awards functions, black tie lectures and other elaborate community gatherings with well-connected elites. That is because he is a very humble and a private person.
Whatever modest savings he had has gone in seven years research of his first book “Tears in Paradise”. His latest book, ‘Enslaved in Paradise” exhausted his remaining retirement nest. Therefore please, be considerate, and do not expect a free copy if you had it so the last time.
Rajendra Prasad has never been to a university and is not an academic - but his work will put many academics to shame. You will never feel that the brilliance and revelations in those pages are coming from a non-academic. You can say, the blessings of his pitra, grandfather, Girmitiya Budhai from a rustic Vaqia have manifested in the pages of his two books. And that from somebody who is not a professor, a doctor – or even a graduate. Indeed, Prasad appears to be a Mana, a gift from Heaven!
Despite his remarkable accomplishments, he failed to register on the radar of local and international Indian awards panels (read, among others, Pravasi Bhartiya etc) that exist in various sizes and shapes. But that does not bother him as he does not write for rewards or recognition - it is a call from the heart and there is no desire to clamour for any honours. But the fact remains he would have been more deserving than some others, and today such awards look wanting because of this exclusion. And of course, he lacks, and even shuns, that connection to influential kingmakers who lobby for those award.
And why should you read his book? Haven’t others told the same story? Not quite the same-and not in the same emphatic language. The difference is like punching with gloves on, with a generous supply of foam to cushion the force, as most academic writings do. Or punching with a naked fist for maximum thrust. I have yet to find a writer with balls, excuse the language, to say what he has said in both his books.
No academic attached to a university with the privileged position of using university resources could have got away by writing what he did. He would have been sacked and blacklisted. No university would allow him to realign History and correct and accuse the British for misrepresenting and distorting Fiji’s Girmit History.
On academics, I however would like to make an exception. Professor Brij Lal is the most celebrated academic on Girmit History, who has written strings of books and publications, and had his footprints on Girmit issues before Prasad, who has extensively quoted him. This is because Professor Lal gave the world the term Girmitiya, the Indentured labourers, in academic circles. Therefore, nobody could write about Girmit without citing the Pundit and Guru, Professor Lal. So, as an academic, he stands out tall, and undisputedly, the tallest!
In restoring and reclaiming History, Prasad comes the second. He has retold the truth about British, the Great Council of Chiefs and Fiji’s celebrated leaders. Many would be aggrieved with his exposes. He can afford to be unconcerned. This is because neither has he to please his financiers, any influential friends, follow university protocols nor be held back by any other shackles.
Prasad fearlessly tells the tales about Fiji’s untold history. He speaks boldly about wickedness of the British, chiefly collusions with largely self-serving, self-centred and arrogant leaders, ravaging Fiji’s political landscape and eventually degenerating it permanently into the ‘coup coup land’ slogan.
I had the privilege of reading an advance manuscript of the book – and I assure you it will be an enlightening, educating, revealing – and shocking experience. It will also immensely annoy you for being screwed for generations, without you realising this.
It is for these reasons, you need to read his blockbuster book, destined to shatter many Historical myths.
Enslaved in Paradise is launched in Auckland on 12 August, 2018.
Hold your breath - and get a copy. Satyamev Jayate - truth shall prevail.
And so it shall – with ENSLAVED IN PARADISE!
[Thakur Ranjit Singh hails from the same locality in Ba as the author Rajendra Prasad, and shares primary School-Vaqia Indian School and high school, D.A.V. College, Ba, Fiji, with him. He is a blogger - runs blog FIJI PUNDIT, is a journalist and media commentator. He lives in Auckland, and shares same passion as Prasad in diving deep for truth-and telling it without fear or favour. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org]