Saturday, 26 March 2011

Overgrown Gardens and Overworked Ancestors

Not sure where the energy came from but somehow I was moved to cut back the Bougainvillea which has frozen up the hills hoist. Underneath the green canopy is a thick tangle of dead brambles. I started in with the secateurs but had to resort to the lopping shears to make any progress.
As I hacked further in I started swinging the side of the shears into the tangle like an axe. I pushed aside Dad’s voice in my head nagging, “Use the right tools for the right job!” and got right into the swinging and hacking, lopping and clearing, breaking and crunching. I had the same sensation as the last time I cut the Bougainvillea back. How my ancestors did this kind of work day after day in the Queensland cane fields, after being blackbirded from Vanuatu. How there is a certain satisfaction to it. Cut away the dead wood. Cut it away. Cut it away. I’m reminded of Johnny Harding’s song, Cutting Cane, and the line, ‘keeps me sane’, and wonder, did it, day after day, after day?
South Sea Islanders in Queensland cane fields

I was relieved from this by a phone call from Mum, a rambling yarn about health, food, weddings and rabbits. Then it swung around to the comments of Ralph Regenvanu, the recently appointed Minister for Justice for Vanuatu and the call from Vanuatu for recognition of the contribution of South Sea Islanders to the Australian economy. How did I miss this? I do a quick google, and god forbid, even the Herald Sun has picked it up and run a pretty good story. Mum informs me his father Sethy Regenvanu, was in the Walter Lini government. We whip into activist mode, as is our want, post the article around the net, Mum’s helped write the media release for Australian South Sea Islanders Port Jackson, and da da, we are now both bloggers. 
I’m blown away by Ralph Regenvanu. He’s 40 years old and done everything under the sun. Lauded as ‘Vanuatu’s first anthropologist’, Director of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, was arrested for harbouring and aiding prisoners while a member of Parliament (the charges were dropped), worked for UNESCO, championed the traditional economy and formed his own political party. Go for it brother! Power to your arm. Strength to your bow (and arrow).
Ralph Regenvanu
How inspiring to see people out there fighting the good fight. Why isn’t there more recognition of Australian Kanaks? Where are the programs and policies for the descendants outside of Queensland? How heartening to hear this call from Vanuatu. Government to Government. I feel heart strong.
I’ve been sleeping under a pile of brambles and someone’s cut through and shown me the sun.
Laef Blong Mi, From Village to Nation by Sethy Regenvanu


  1. love it! its a great read! looking forward to more...

  2. Thanks Kim, and more power to your own pen also. We need more blogs that simplify for readers important and often complex history and politics.