GOPIO : South Africa, Mauritius and Reunion

Mauritius: Celebrating 175 years of Indian Arrival

Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor (centre) in the presence of Mauritian Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam, and Mauritian President Aneerod Jugnauth

Mauritius celebrated 175 years of arrival of the Indian immigrants in November 2009. During this time Minister of State for External Affairs Mr Shashi Tharoor visited Mauritius. He addressed the local people at the Appravasi Ghat in Port-Louis in three languages, English, Hindi and French. He impressed one and all when he said, “History never forgets those who forget it. The sweat and sacrifice of our ancestors have enabled us to live in comfort and security. It is they who led to a resurgent Mauritius which now occupies the number one position when it comes to governance in Africa.” Mr Tharoor said he was proud of Mauritian PIO who has made the island nation what it is today. Interestingly, Mauritius is also celebrating 200 years of the arrival of the British. They won a decisive battle in the seas near Grand-Port with the support of 7,000 Indian soldiers before colonizing Mauritius. 

ReUnion Island on the PIO Map

GOPIO International Executive members after a meeting with the President of Mauritius Aneerod Jugnauth and Lady Jugnauth at State House, Le Reduit

Next year, PIOs in Reunion Island will be celebrating 280 years of the arrival of the first Indian immigrants from Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. Political leaders from Reunion Island, together with Reunion GOPIO, will be present in Pondicherry to unveil a monument in the glory of their ancestors. Today, Reunion Island has a PIO population of 400,000 people.

DURBAN to host 10th Gopio International Convention

Chairman, GOPIO International,Mr Mahyendrah Utchanah (left), President of Mauritius Sir Anerood Jugnauth, and UKZN’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Corporate Relations, Professor Dasarath Chetty (right)

2010 is a year of celebration for South Africa. The Indians presently resident in South Africa, had their ancestors arriving at the port of Durban, South Africa, for the very first time, on November 17, 1860. In 2010 the country will be commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the arrival of Indians as indentured laborers to work on the sugar cane fields, under appalling conditions, contracted by the British Government, under whose administration South Africa was, at the time. GOPIO International will give the kick-off for this important celebration in the country of the Mahatma by organizing its 10th GOPIO International Convention at the famous Durban Convention Center from March 28 to April 2, 2010. The President of the Republic of Mauritius, Sir Aneerod Jugnauth, will be present at this function, together with the President of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma and other Indian political leaders and PIO Ministers. Around 2,000 foreign delegates from over 50 countries are expected to attend. 

The GOPIO International Chairman Mahyendrah Utchanah has, in a message, said that “I am inviting all PIOs worldwide to come and join us for this big celebration in Durban this year. GOPIO International with headquarters in America are also invited to participate.” He adds, “I make an appeal to GOPIO international America to join hands and unite together to celebrate this big event in the country of Mahatma.”

To decide upon South Africa as the host country for the 10th Convention, the GOPIO’s executive committee met at its headquarters at Calebasses, also the location of the Human Service Trust. A South African delegation consisting of 18 members of the GOPIO Executive Committee including high-level academics, business entrepreneurs, members of the legal fraternity, cultural leaders, motivational speakers, internationally renowned photographers, sports and youth leaders, all representing Indians in South Africa, were hosted by GOPIO Mauritius. The South African delegation was also hosted for tea by the Sir Anerood Jugnauth, President of Mauritius, and his wife at the scenic Chateau Le Reduit in Mauritius. President Jugnauth expressed his support for the convention in South Africa and indicated that he will be attending the event.

Wholehearted support also was received from the Mauritian Minister of Education, the Hon. Dr. Vasant Bunwaree, a cardiologist by training and the Minister of Industry, Science and Research; Professor Dharam Gokhool, who also met the delegation in their busy schedules. The delegation visited the University of Mauritius, meeting with Professor S Jugessur, the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Mauritius. This was followed by visits to the Mahatma Gandhi Museum in Moka and the Mahatma Gandhi Institute. GOPIO is just connecting University of Mauritius to University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban and also a collaboration with the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Mauritius.

Also in 2010, South Africa will be at the centre of all eyes since it will be hosting the World Cup FIFA Soccer between June 11 and July 11.

January 2010

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