Habari za asubuhi marafiki zangu
Lawa is a Warlpiri word that means both ‘no’ and ‘nothing’.
Such as lawa-jarrija: ‘It was made into nothing’ in other words it was used up or emptied or finished up.
The word ‘no’ often evokes a memory I have of an anti-sexual harassment poster from a few decades ago: “which part of N O don’t you understand?”
Some decades ago the Northern Territory Government had a campaign going to get local councils to register as Community Government Councils under NT legislation. Back then many councils were registered under Federal (Commonwealth) legislation. The then NT Government, run by what were known as the “CLP cowboys” (the CLP is the Country Liberal Party), inter alia spent a vast amount of money opposing Aboriginal Land Claims lodged under the federal Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.
Warlpiri people knew on which side their bread was buttered.
I attended several community meetings at which some unfortunate wearer of long white socks had to try and sell the concept that Community Government Councils would be so much better, to unconvinced antagonistic crowds. I can still picture two Jungarrayi brothers (who sadly are no longer with us) who took it in turns to point at the poor fellow and in a loud voice proclaim: “We are saying LAWA, we are saying LAWA, LAWA means NO”
So did the Government take NO for an answer? NO they didn’t.
Sometime later another unfortunate long white sock wearer would organize a community meeting and the whole scene would repeat itself. “We are saying LAWA, we are saying LAWA, LAWA means NO”. Several meetings later a less unfortunate wearer of long white socks turned up at a time many Yuendumu residents were away at some event. The small group that attended the meeting, caved in and we got our Yuendumu Community Government Council. A long convoluted history ensued. The YCGC thrived for a while at the height of Self Determination. Not even a pretence of an opportunity to say LAWA came with the 2007 Intervention which heralded a new heightened level of disregard. They had all the power.
On the coat tails of the Intervention, so called council amalgamations took over local councils (and I might add their assets) at the stroke of a pen. Yuendumu became part of the Central Desert Shire, since renamed the Central Desert Regional Council, possibly for the same reason that the RJCP (Remote Jobs and Communities Programme) has been renamed the CDP (Community Development Programme). CDP sounds just like CDEP (if you say it quickly enough). CDEP were the increasingly successful Community Development Employment Projects, which had the rug pulled from under them in 2007.
CDEP for example employed a number of young people who worked as teaching assistants, at no cost to Yuendumu School, in the bilingual programme. This was at no additional cost to the long suffering ‘Australian taxpayer’ in that these teaching assistants would otherwise have been entitled to unemployment benefits. It was a win-win situation.
In the last Dispatch I waxed lyrical about song lyrics. Who could fail but be seduced by such as ….you don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows…?
As I said, a song can say things that it would otherwise take volumes to say.
Such a song is Bo Diddley’s He’s got all the whiskey…
It epitomises the Aboriginal Australia / Mainstream Australia relationship in a few simple and repeated words.
…he got all the money, he got all the money, but he won’t give me none….
…he got all the whiskey, he got all the whiskey, but he won’t give me none…
…he got all the women, he got all the women too, but he won’t give me none…
And last but not least:
…he got all the power, he got all the power, but he won’t give me none…
Do yourself a favour, listen to this song, the words may be simple but this is a brilliant piece of music.
Quoting from an ABC News article (on Adolf Hitler’s birthday 20th April – I know, completely irrelevant): “…He said, with the approval of the local people, the climb could be a ‘great opportunity for the local Anangu to participate in a lucrative business and create much-needed local jobs’. Mr Giles said he would ‘like to hear from the traditional owners, the Anangu people, and start a conversation’ …”
The traditional owners have been saying WIYA (LAWA in their language) for decades. They simply don’t like people climbing Uluru (Ayers Rock). Possibly for similar reasons to those that the many who would object to people clambering up St. Peter’s Basilica or the Alhambra might give. Yet our Chief Minister, Adam Giles, wants tostart a conversation!
Well may we ask:
What part of NO don’t you understand Mr. Giles?
hadi wakati mwingine