July 2014 \ World News \ Diaspora in Indian Ocean
Reunion Island Memorial

The Mayor of Saint Denis, the capital of Reunion Island, a French department in the Indian Ocean, has allocated 9 square metres for setting up of a monument dedicated to the indentured workers who labored to build the island’s economy in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The indentured workers were taken by French from their colonies in India such as Pondicherry, Mahe, Karaikal and Chandanagore under a system of indentureship. The proposal for the monument was approved by the local Town Hall on December 16, 2013. On June 28, 2014, land was allocated at a site in Saint Denis to a steering committee in Reunion to build the memorial.

A 10-member steering committee with representatives of all major Indian cultural associations was established to study the monument proposal. The steering committee is chaired by GOPIO Reunion’s First Vice President and dental surgeon Dr Lena Armoudom. Other members of the steering committee include Acama Latimy, Acama Mohane, Armoudom Charles, Badat Rabia, Balamourougame Zlarame, Camalon Narassinguin, Chanemougame Selvam, Latchoumy Carmen, Narsy Ashok, Valeama Augustin, Minienpoulle Daniel, Ramsamy Jean Regis, Goulamhoussen Mourtzaaly. The steering committee submitted its recommendations to the Consulate General of India on February 7, 2014. The recommendations included:

* The monument be named "Memorial Committed to Indians."

* The project be monitored by GOPIO Reunion.

* The structure should be a "Steel Pyramid"

* The structure should be approved by the Architect of Buildings of France.

* Local basalt may be used for construction.

* Celebrations to instal the memorial may last three days in Saint Denis and include a conference and cultural events.

* The cultural events should be managed by a professional for quality presentations.

* The total cost is estimated to be Euro 100,000.

* A public offering for financial assistance may be carried out to receive contributions. done receive contributions. The GOPIO has opened a GOPIO Memorial Account to receive financial support.

The Town Hall of Saint Denis has agreed to undertake regular maintenance of the Memorial. The Mayor has agreed to transfer the site to the committee after the inauguration.

According to GOPIO Reunion president and celebrated journalist Jean Regis Ramsamy, “the site for the memorial is historically important. Our ancestors came to this land to toil with their blood, sweat and tears to build the sugarcane economy of this island. Today we are here because of them. This memorial is a dedication to their courage, their aspirations and their dreams.”




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