The labor shortage of West Indian sugar plantations in the immediate aftermath of African slave emancipation in 1838 forced the 19th century European planters and British colonial government to engage in a massive migrant labor trading. An impoverished India, during the colonial occupation became the perfect source of cheap labor. A new system of contractual migration termed “Indentured Labor Contract” was soon developed by the colonial administration to transport migrant laborers from the Indian subcontinent to various plantations.
From 1838 to 1917, the plantation economies in countries ranging from Sri Lanka in South Asia to Surinam in South America imported millions of Indian laborers or “Coolies”. As part of this, nearly half a million people came to various Caribbean islands and South American colonies.
JAHAJI BAI is a journey from the origins of European colonialism to the genesis of the Afro Indian-ethnic conflicts in Caribbean countries of Trinidad &Tobago and Guyana. Shot over a period of two years the films explores the theme through a range of materials from rare documents to violent racial conflicts.
Written and Directed by Suresh Pillai
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