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Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign in their own Country.

A few years ago, I was in an elevator with an Aboriginal friend who was visiting Sydney, when a little boy innocently asked his mother “where is he from Mummy?”

Instead of asking, she took one look at the colour of his skin and proclaimed “Africa.”

My friend looked away, clearly embarassed. “He is from Australia,” I corrected her.

In fact he is an indigenous Australian of the Yolngu people, one of the oldest living cultures on earth.

Yolngu have lived in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory for at least 50 thousand years. However the majority of Australians had never even heard of Yolngu until the film Ten Canoes took out the Cannes Festival Special Jury Prize and was nominated for an Academy Award – it was the first feature film shot in an indigenous Australian language.

Many moons ago, I had the privilege of being invited to Ramingining, a small, remote town in the heart of the Arafura (crocodile infested) Swamp where Ten Canoes was filmed. I am ashamed to admit before that visit, I had no idea English is the fifth or sixth language spoken by many of the 800 Yolngu who live there. Some don’t even speak it.

The theme of this week’s Photo Challenge has inspired me to share some of the images I took of that trip.

For a world traveller, Ramingining is one of the most foreign places I’ve visited.

8 Comments »

    • Thanks for your comment Jo. Yes, I think its disgraceful that for so long they’ve been told their culture doesn’t have any value. And we don’t even teach our kids about their history or amazing richness of language in school.

  1. What a fabulous set of photos and an educational post… Thank you also for correcting that mom… If only we’d all learn to ask questions instead of speculate! 🙂

  2. I’m so glad you posted this in response to the challenge. I had thought of writing something along the same lines (and the same heading!) but to my shame I have no photographs of our indigenous people, let alone beautiful portraits like these. Bravo 🙂

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