What a month to start 2018! Bonding with two smiling little grandsons and their parents over Australia Day BBQ. We played music together; a son arranged songs for all our family’s instruments. I wondered what songs and heritage stories one might hear from those who became Aussies at Citizenship Ceremonies.
Songs and stories of our nation
Australia is a meld of diverse nationalities, cultures, languages, histories. First Australians sing Songlines as they walk, connecting to Dreaming Stories of the land they cross. Indigenous leaders Noel Pearson and Warren Mundine are better able than myself to comment about the 26 January focus on Sydney Cove. Port Jackson, not Port Hedland as reported by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert. Motto: FACT CHECK!
Pearson suggests a positive solution. “The observance of Australia Day could commence on January 25 — the eve of the proclamation of British sovereignty over the east coast of the continent — and continue into January 26. This would straddle two sovereignties: the sovereignty of the First Nations that possessed this continent since time immemorial, and the crown’s sovereignty that commenced when the British flag was raised at Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788.”
Let’s focus instead on those who disembarked there in subsequent centuries.
• What propelled them to emigrate?
• Many sought refuge from oppression–as did migrant-made-good Grandad. He avoided conscription into the Russian army.
On 17 January 1903, 115 years ago, my Grandad Wilhelm Anders (“WA”) Back disembarked from SS Ophir in Sydney. He was reunited with his brother Karl Johan later that month. Aged 16, he grasped the opportunities his new land offered. So young, enterprising. But WAIT.
Check sources! Shipping records.
Ophir docked on 16 January 1903.
Ouch. I was mortified to realise my books cited an incorrect date. But on his Application for Certificate of Naturalization Wilhelm Anders Back himself wrote 17 January 1902. His niece quoted this date in her memoir so I supposed it valid. An Errata will rectify.
The pitfalls historians face, to sift truths from myths!
Fact check, all we who speak or write.
Relatives note that their own children –and mine–resemble young Grandad. In the first photo ca.1890 he’s front left. Ten years later, at back left, he’s keen to take on the world.
Since living and working in foreign countries, I sympathise with the communication stumbles emigrants face. My recent books focus on the getting of language, citing challenges Grandad and his brother Karl Johan faced to learn English. During seven years in Europe, I knew that to speak risked blunders. I must overcome inhibition and shyness. In Midnight Sun to Southern Cross, I share my journeys of discovery–of heritage, of self and of voice.
(Excerpts at KJ’s Facebook book page; @BurnMyLetters and my own Author page.)
See book reviews Goodreads.com Information and autographed copies eBook
My topic as guest speaker for this 13 February breakfast:
Speak out with a confident voice
Your voice is your identity: How to make it music to your listeners’ ears
Our first BIBW breakfast for 2018 features award-winning author, international presenter and performance coach Ruth Bonetti. Words and music are her passion, and in this interactive presentation, Ruth will share doable techniques to help you become confident on your feet:
• Learn easy tips to enhance your natural voice
• Project with ease, clarity, and poise
• Pre-presentation warm-up for resonance, modulation and confidence
Ruth has presented in Scandinavia, the USA, UK and across Australia and New Zealand. Her techniques for confident presentation are encapsulated in her book Speak Out – Don’t Freak Out, and her recent heritage memoir Burn My Letters was shortlisted and won the Omega Writers CALEB nonfiction prize.
Ruth is available for one-on-one coaching and training (www.ruthbonetti.com)
Tuesday 13 February 2018 | 7.00am for 7.15am to 9.00am
Moreton Room, Ground Floor, United Service Club Queensland
183 Wickham Terrace, Brisbane
Email Ruth to enquire about training and coaching.