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Ron Tells of his Father

I was born in Fiji, with family ties to India on my father's side.

This is the story of Mustopher David Richmond,

Accountant, explorer, miner, Genius,

as recounted to me by my brothers Isaac

and Vincent Richmond.

The Fiji Indian connection

After colonizing Fiji in 1874

the British kick-started the sugar cane industry

by importing labourers from India.

Dad's parents Braham Bahadur Singh and Maksudan met on one of the ships, fell in love, and decided to get married.

It did not matter that he was a Hindu and she was Muslim, and it did not matter that such inter-religious marriages were considered taboo (and are still taboo today!).

They simply decided they loved each other, Ignored all the protocols and taboos, and just got married!

This actually set the standard for my family

from that time onwards.

Our family is totally multiracial, multi-religious, multi-coloured, with no class or sexual discriminations!

But back to Dad!

He excelled at the Marist Brothers school in Suva

but that was the limit of education available in Fiji

in those early days of the 1900's.

Fiji Indian breaks the colour 'glass ceiling'

Dad studied Accountancy by correspondence

to get his tertiary qualifications, and started work

as a clerk with Morris Hedstroms.

He soon became a Senior Clerk among the

non-European staff. At that time, no locals (Indian or Fijian) were allowed to be in charge of European staff and European staff were paid much more than locals.

However, when the Accountant's position became available, he was called in by the General Manager who offered him the position, thereby making him the first local to be put in charge of Europeans in the company. This may be no big deal in today's world, but in the 1930s this was quite significant.

The package included a high salary, store discounts and a large 4-bedroom home. His elevated position enabled Dad to invest in real estate, which included two homes and a block of flats to start off with.

Dad was a very generous person and could never refuse someone in dire straits and usually in urgent need of financial help. In most cases, there was no prospect of ever being repaid.

As a result people started calling him “Rich Man”, especially people with limited or no education, which was quite common in those days. With the strong encouragement of his wife “Dombie” who was brought up in Sydney by Europeans and spoke perfect English, Dad changed his surname to Richmond”.