GIS – 31 October 2013: At a press conference yesterday, the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr. Mookhesswur Choonee, elaborated on activities that would be organised in association with the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund to commemorate the 179th anniversary of the Arrival of Indentured Labourers in Mauritius on Saturday 02 November 2013 in Port Louis.
The ceremony will be graced by the President of the Republic of Mauritius, Mr. Rajkeswur Purryag, and the Prime Minister, Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, amongst others. Activities include a wreath-laying ceremony and an exhibition of unpublished photographs on Aapravasi Ghat World Heritage Site. Latest research results on the Aapravasi Ghat since its inscription on the World Heritage List in 2006 will be presented.
According to the Minister, the Beekrumsing Ramlallah Interpretation Centre, the only site in the world, inscribed on UNESCO’s list that is devoted to indentured immigration, will be officially inaugurated next year.
It is recalled that the Aapravasi Ghat, previously known as Coolie Ghat, was an immigrant’s depot constructed in 1849 on the shore of Trou Fanfaron Bay in Port Louis harbour, in order to receive indentured immigrants who came mainly from India. Between 1849 and 1910, about half a million indentured labourers, from various parts of the Indian subcontinent, transited through the Aapravasi Ghat. In 1987 the depot’s name was changed from ‘Coolie Ghat’ to ‘Aapravasi Ghat’ when it was decreed a national monument. Furthermore, in 2001, as a mark of respect and affection, the Government proclaimed the 2nd November a public holiday to honour the memory of indentured labourers.
In 2006, the Aapravasi Ghat, classified as a national monument, was inscribed on the prestigious World Heritage List of UNESCO.
Mr. Choonee also commented on his recent mission to China where he participated in the unveiling ceremony of the monument in Meizhou city, Guangdong province, marking the departure of the Chinese diaspora to the Indian Ocean islands, in the context of a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) initiative in remembrance of the movement of slaves throughout the world.
UNESCO chose Meizhou, China's largest source of Hakka immigrants, for the memorial square, to commemorate the Chinese who left their hometowns and went to islands in the Indian Ocean during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Minister had discussions with the Inner Mongolian authorities on cultural exchanges, and a meeting with film producers in Beijing for the promotion of film production in Mauritius.
Moreover, during the press conference, Minister Choonee proceeded to the launching of a 3-D photography book entitled L’Ile Maurice/Mauritius compiled by Mr. Sanjay Raghoober.
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