Deng Adut

The other evening, I was asked to photograph the New Members Ceremony for the Golden Key Honours Society from Western Sydney University Campus. Areas of Western Sydney are areas of welfare and poverty, and it was inspirational to hear stories of people who have managed to achieve high marks in their studies so far. Only the top 15% of students are offered a place in this society which prides itself on 3 pillars, Academia, Leadership and Service.IMG_2147

I have been a member of Golden Key now for about 8 months, having first been invited when I was doing my degree at ACU. It was because of my involvement with that chapter, that I was invited to take the photos at the ceremony for new members.

One of the highlights of the evening for me, was hearing a young man named Deng Adut give the keynote speech, and receive his honorary membership to the society. Deng was born in Sudan. At 6 years of age, he was taken by an army from his war torn village. he was made into a child soldier. Deng has written a book of his harrowing ordeals called “Songs of a War Boy”. you can purchase a copy here. http://dengadut.com/dengs-book/IMG_2220 (2)

Deng was shot a number of times and carried schrapnel around in his body. As a result of one of his injuries, he was unsure whether he would be able to father a child. On Friday evening, he told us a miracle had occurred and he became a father 3 weeks previous.

Deng arrived with his brothers, still a wounded child. When he arrived, he could not speak much English, and he could not read or write. He taught himself and did anything he could to drag himself through school and later University, graduating in Accountancy and then Masters of Law. He is now a partner in his own law firm, and a greatly sought after public speaker. Deng gave the Australian of the Year speech in 2016 and became NSW Australian of the year in 2017.

It was an honour to hear him speak, inspiring the high acheiving students in the room to keep going.

The older brother who helped Deng escape into Kenya, to later be granted refugee status in Australia, returned to South Sudan as an Aid worker. Unfortunately he lost his life while saving others. deng has started a foundation in his honour. It is called the John Mac Foundation. It is “a charity working to educate and empower refugees and people whose lives have been interrupted by war.” Donations to the charity, and to find out more about it, you can go to http://johnmacfoundation.org/

I hope you find inspiration in the life of Deng Adut. If a wounded Child Soldier, who cant speak English, work to achieve a Masters of Law, become a father, and help so many others, what can someone who grew up in a privileged western society do.

Blessings

Dave

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Albury/Wodonga in Winter

In Australia, on the border of NSW and Victoria, there is a twin set of towns called Albury and Wodonga. What separates the two is the mighty Murray River. One of my friends recently retired and moved down to Albury from Sydney. I went to visit him in July, between semesters at Uni. Its an Historic town, with some lovely old buildings including an iconic pub. Some of the photos were taken at the lookout, up a nearby hill. Some were taken in the towns botanical gardens. Here are some of the results of that visit.

Enjoy

Dave

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Pacifist?

(written after my course ended but still relevant to the course, so I have included it under the subject of American Writing in the menu,)

Recently I studied Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac and other beatnik poems. Ginsberg called himself a pacifist. I questioned this. I believe I have the same protesting spirit as Ginsberg and others, however I do not call myself a pacifist.

a person who believes in pacifism or is opposed to war or to violence of any kind. 2. a person whose personal belief in pacifism causes him or her to refuse being drafted into military service. Compare conscientious objector.

A passivist is something quite different. It means being submissive in nature, particularly in a sexual situation.

I am not sure which Allen Ginsberg was referring to, I don’t want to think about the second. I do believe he was a lover of peace, however was not a true pacifist in the sense of the word.

My words, writing my mind can be a weapon against an oppressive, corrupt or unjust government, rulers or laws. As a protest poet, I shoot my literary arrow deep into the hearts of leaders, and others who can make a difference, until their hearts bleed empathy. I do not stop until I wound. I am not to kill with my words (as a famous song does), but to heal. Where one was running into battle as an oppressor, he now limps away, with his heart changed and fights for the opposition to the oppressive.A-1678614-1321804331.jpeg

My words, my art and my photos are not meant to leave you comfortable if I am working on a social justice or human rights issue. They will not give you warm and fuzzy feelings. They are meant to make it feel like you are sitting on granite, something hard and uncomfortable enough to make you want to move.

 

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Just Don’t

Don’t touch me

Don’t Touch Me

DON’T TOUCH ME

Don’t look at me

Don’t Look at Me

DON’T LOOK AT ME

Don’t talk to me

Don’t Talk To Me

DON’T TALK TO ME

Don’t use endearing names. Call me nothing but the name I was given.

He is offensive, She is offensive, They doesn’t make sense when talking of one person, but that is preferred.

When I am sad, don’t hug me to comfort me. Let your shoulder to cry on only be metaphorical not actual.

When greeting me, don’t even think to kiss my cheek, don’t offer to shake a hand, it wont be accepted.

We live in a society when anything we do or say can be misconstrued, misinterpreted, misunderstood. Best to do nothing, lest we offend…and get sued.

We are global citizens, superficially connected to many, but attached to nobody. Share the world, share the meme, share the joke, but don’t dare try to share my space.

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End of an Era

Here in Sydney, in an eclectic suburb called Newtown, There is an iconic second-hand bookshop that has entertained the masses with reading material, and provided students at nearby Sydney University with cheaper text books for over 50 years.

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It has come to my attention, and the attention of many more with the help of newspaper and radio media that this shop is going to close.  I was grieved to hear this, and so I went, to buy some books, and to get the real story.

The bookshop was one of many opened and run by Bob Gould, who was an activist during the 60’s who protested war and conscription. Bob died in 2011 after falling from a ladder in the bookshop while sorting books. It is at present run by one of his daughters, and staffed by dedicated staff that really have been there for years.

There are over 75,000 titles in their catalogue. Many of these titles have multiple copies. I would estimate over 100,000 books in this store. When I asked about a title, the attendant knew exactly where it was, called another attendant to go get it for me, and gave him a torch. This tore would not be out of place in a JK Rowling book. I can see some young witches lining up at the counter all seeking second hand copies of Spells and Incantations or something.20171102_153254

I went just to browse really, and managed to find some books by the author Orson Scott Card, who is a favorite science fiction writer. I also picked up two books by David Marr, on Patrick White, whom I just studied as part of my BA (lit). The books were very reasonably priced, and in good condition.

The Mural was commissioned by the government at the time, but was then rejected as too political. So Bob Gould bought it and it has had pride of place just inside the front door ever since. It has a kind of William Blake look about it to me. Does anyone else see that?20171102_153223

The good news is that this store is not closing. The rent has forced them out of Newtown but the owner are looking for a new premises in which to keep the legend of Gould’s alive. If anyone has such a premises that can hold all of these books, contact the owners. Then comes a team or people needed to move it all. I think I am going to be sick that week.

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Sad

I was in Bondi today. I saw the sign below.” Equality” was “NO WAY”

Ok, so this sign was actually referring to the debate we have right now in Parliament with regards to same sex marriage, but the word really doesn’t say that, it is just implied or assumed.

I think it is really sad, that one word, which expresses that we the poster wants everybody to be treated equally, not just gays seeking marriage, but the concept that “All men are created equal” , therefore deserve to be treated equally can be disputed. It is not just gay people who are treated differently in Australia. It is the disabled, it is the asylum seekers, it is women, it is people who have different colour skin, earn less money, etc etc.

Where do people get off thinking that their own ideology, their skin colour or sexual orientation is any better than someone else’s. Someone doesn’t agree with you? they are not as worthy as you of such privileges that your life deserves. I’m sorry, but that makes me sad.20171102_132450

 

The second sign I saw was a stencil (after Banksy). Lest we forget 1788.

This of course refers to the colonisation of Australia. When Captain Cook declared this country as belonging to England. Did they ask the indigenous people whether they could stay. No. Did they perhaps compensate the aboriginals for land taken, as one would do when they buy land. NO, Not that the aboriginals had a choice to sell it anyway. English Settlers used to abhor squatters who would live off their land, rent free, using the resources without paying. Truth be told, the settlers were squatters themselves. The English sent people to Australia from Britain for stealing as little as a loaf of bread. What sentence did they get for stealing a country?

My family arrived after the first settlers, so I, and many like me are not to blame for what happened over 200 years ago. We live in an enlightened time though, when we can look back and say, ” the way the aboriginal people were treated was wrong”. Saying sorry now does not admit wrong from my family, but we can say that we are sorry that this happened. We can try and make recompense and ensure it never happens again.

Other countries can’t poke a finger and say it was terrible what happened. It happened to so many countries in the world. The British, French, Portuguese, Spanish and others invaded lands and claimed that land as their own without consulting the people that were already there.

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I dont have legs to march in protest rallies, but I have fingers which can type, and a heart that can feel. I will not be silenced until we have equality. Jesus said Love One Another. Lets start now.

Dave

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Reading Australia Summative Entry

Summative Entry, Reading Australia

 

This Semester I undertook a course entitled Reading Australia. This was not merely reading literature of the land but learning that there is more to this land than what is on the surface.

Judith Wright was a poet who besides writing wonderful poetry about nature, made some analogies with nature to human life. The patterns of life, similar to the patterns in the landscape, the seasons, which come and go, and come again.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/judith-wright-poems/

 

We also studied an incredible man who even though locked up in a mental institution, or locked also within his own mind, his own prison, could see past the bars and the fences and free his spirit to write some incredible poetry. I made the point about Francis Webb, to my lecturer, that I struggle not just to understand the poetry of Webb, but also the complexity of the person himself. My lecturer told me that he had done a Phd on Webb, and till says the same thing himself. Is this a man who was meant to be understood?

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/10/12/relating-to-francis-webb/

 

Tree of Man by Patrick White was the first novel studied in this course. It is a story about the pioneers in the bush on the outskirts of Sydney. The book tells the story of the Aussie equivalent to Adam and Eve; a couple who were the first to clear land and build in the bush, to plant, to raise milk cows, and hens. It is the story of one man’s spiritual and actual journey of life as he discovers who he is and indeed who God is. The patterns of life again put in an appearance.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/the-tree-of-man-patrick-white/

I also looked at Patrick White as being a transcendentalist, and linked him with the writing and philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/patrick-white-and-ralph-waldo-emerson/

 

In the course, David Malouf again made an appearance, and I must say that this being the last course of my undergraduate degree, I shall miss studying the work of David Malouf, at least at a classroom level. I have a number of books and collections of his short stories that I haven’t even tried to study yet. I can do so in my own time. The book from Malouf this time was Conversations at Curlow Creek. This is a tale of the capture and subsequent hanging (or is it) of a young bushranger. The book uncovers the conversations between the captured and the executioner, in a hut, in the middle of the bush, the night before the scheduled hanging. The executioner has come to find out information about a sibling that has possibly gone missing and rogue in the bush, but leaves with a lot more information, about himself after spending the night in this bush hut. I really enjoy David Malouf writing.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/a-house-divided-conversations-at-curlow-creek/

 

After the class went to the Art Gallery for a visit, I decided to do an expose piece on the painting Bailed Up by Tom Roberts. I looked at how the painting was done, as well as a history behind the famous Cobb & Co coaches, that travelled through the bush here in the 1800’s. It was these coaches that were subject to the robberies by bushrangers, and thereby the subject of the paintings. I think studying this painting also gave me an appreciation of bushrangers and coaches when I studied Curlow Creek.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/09/02/bailed-up-by-tom-roberts/

 

 

My place is the book written by the indigenous author and painter Sally Morgan. Sally starts this book as a first-person narrative, then moves on to tell the story of other people who are prominent in her life, through their own eyes. Sally interviewed these people and they all told their own stories about what it is like to be aboriginal. There is some reminiscing until Sally finally takes her mum back to the station where the family or the mob come from. We learn that Nan, is aboriginal not indeed Indian as was thought by Sally as a child. Nan has a deep connection with the land and with nature. She may deny her skin colour and her heritage, but she can not deny the land which owns her soul. Nan passes on hints and her love of nature to Sally. In my blog, I have looked at the bush medicine and old remedies from the bush. This is a book of discovery. Sally discovers who she is, as an aboriginal woman. Our class discussions around this book led to people discussing their own culture, and the place where we as individuals belong. We each discovered My Place.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/my-place/

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/sally-morgans-nan-and-bush-remedies/

 

This was a lovely course and one that I really appreciate doing. The course was not needed for me to pass my degree, but it was a subject that I was interested in. This course showed me the spirituality of the indigenous peoples, the complexity of humans in general and how important it is not only to care for the land in which we live, but care for the custodians of the land. Those whose ancestors were slaughtered and whose bloodline was almost lost because of the atrocities of colonisation. It confirmed in me the underlying message that was prevalent throughout my journey in my degree. That being that each person is an individual, each person has value. The lesson here is that God loves us not just collectively, but individually. God has a plan. Trust him…and hold on, it may be a bumpy ride.

 

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