Fiji Children's Books by Salvin Kumar
Fiji-Baat is a Children's book about inter-generational connection, migration, settlement, assimilation, language, identity, and diasporic journeys of homecoming.
Fiji-Baat translates as Fiji-Talk. It is predominantly spoken by the Indo-Fijian population and the people of this diaspora. Other terms such as Fiji-Hindi, Fiji-Hindustani, Hindustani-Baat or simply Hindustani are also used.
Fiji-Baat is the story of an 8-year-old boy who is from Australia. His Mum is Indian-Fijian, and his Dad is Scottish. He accompanies his mother on a trip to see his Nana (grandfather) for Christmas. The young boy arrives in Fiji thinking that his Nana can barely speak English but is surprised to learn the opposite. The grandson and his grandfather then begin a journey of teaching and learning from each other.
Nana comes and sits next to him when he is using his iPad. He asks what his 8-year-old grandson is doing. Once he understands, he mentions that their computer isn’t working and that he used to send emails to his friends who live overseas. Nana is then shown how to send emails from an iPad. They talk about their ancestry and Nana starts teaching his grandson some words in Fiji-Hindustani (also known as Fiji-Baat). The young boy leaves his iPad with his grandfather.
Upon his return to Sydney, he sees an email from Nana who continues to teach him Fiji-Baat with the iPad. The story ends with the young boy saying that he and his Nana now talk weekly, suggesting that they are better connected and that he is learning more about his identity.
About the language - Fiji-Baat/ Fiji-Hindi/ Fiji-Hindustani/ Hindustani-Baat/ Hindustani
The language is the product of influences from other languages that have existed since the Girmit period.
Girmit refers to the ‘Agreement’ made between an Indian Indentured Labourer and the British Government. The labourers, known as the Girmitya’s or Coolie’s, were brought from India. They served for a period of five years. This systematic slavery, came to an end about a hundred years ago. Of the 60,000 labourers that were brought, the majority opted to stay back in Fiji and started a lineage of people called Indo-Fijians.
About the Author
Salvin Kumar worked as a teacher in Taveuni, Suva and Lautoka before moving from Fiji to Australia. He is currently a Youth Worker who supports newly arrived migrants and refugees in St George and Sutherland Shire in New South Wales.
He loves cooking, writes poetry and practises yoga. Fiji-Baat is his first Children's book.