Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Wonder

I actually feel quite sad when I look at this photograph.  This man plays these sticks at Circular Quay in Sydney.  He has another younger two men with him and they sell cd's to the public.  This fellow also poses and his photograph taken with people.  Somehow to me it seems a little degrading.  Almost a mockery of what was once a proud tradition and lifestyle.  Today you would never see an aboriginal dressed like this outside of putting on a show for people.  Perhaps at Ayres Rock (Uluru)  or maybe some aboriginal cultural show, somewhere in the countryside.  Unfortunately most of the aboriginal people now live in cities and I don't think that for many the lifestyle suits too well.  It is hard to talk about without some people taking offence and that is not my intention.  I wonder if the coming of the English so many years ago was a good thing for these people.  Actually I wonder that about many of the tribal cultures from countries that have been inhabited by white men.  Are there any that have been undamaged by the change that comes with white inhabitation?  Would their lives have been better, simpler, I just wonder.  I have asked Taban my African friend and he says that life here in Australia is good, there is plenty of food and shelter, but he also says he will probably never own a house here.  In the refugee camp in Uganda that he came from, he was able to build mud huts, at least they were his own.  Here there seems to be a never ending stream of paperwork to be read, understood and completed without error or else.  Very confusing and stressful for someone who has not had to deal with this before.  Rent, saving, spending, insurance, school books and uniforms, medical forms, centrelink forms, loan applications for a vehicle, all of these things are so very different for him.  And a minefield waiting to be tripped up in.  Is he happier I asked, yes he says.  His family is safe from the rebels who regularly raided his camp, stealing food and children, raping women and girls, killing the men.  Does he miss Sudan oh yes, his family, friends, the culture of village.  All together, working to eat and live, sharing the food, shelter and car of the children amongst the entire village.  I wonder if we really have done the best thing for so many people, or did we just do what we do, walk in and expect everyone to change to fit into what we believe is the better way.  I wonder.


  1. I wonder sometimes too - in the US the Native American culture has suffered so much from the influx of the English.

  2. a heartfelt post!

    Many people nowadays has been displaced because of civilization, developments and cruelty of some other humans. Natives are forced to settle somewhere to survived and their number decreasing.

  3. As a cultural anthropologist, these stories and problems and cultural changes and hardships have always been a part of my life. It is very sad in most cases when a culture is overtaken or forced to assimilate into another. In very few cases are the outcomes good. Even if the people are "better off" in a sense, the loss of their community, their language, their celebrations cause many generations to long for what was lost.

  4. i think of this often and then i think all poor creatures being forced out of their homes in the name of progress


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