More to the point

I’m back home in Sydney after the Making Links conference and reflecting on some of the great things I learned about. A couple that may be of interest to readers of this blog are:

The Home Lands Project. Coordinator Kirsty Baird gave a great presentation on this internet TV project, which seeks to link young people from refugee communities in Australia with their homeland communities by making TV programs about themselves, on the premise that such connections build stability for young people settling in a new country. They are working with two communities in their pilot project – Karen and Sudanese. Young people from both communities in Melbourne have already started making programs, and young Karen in a refugee camp on the Burma/Thai border have also started. The project is still trying to establish links with a suitable Sudanese community back in Africa – they are looking in Southern Sudan, Kenyan Kakuma refugee camp, and Sudanese communities in Egypt. Wish them luck, it’s a great intitiative for which I can see loads of potential down the track, in linking many communities of different diasporas. Including, perhaps, mixed kids? Who needs Fox studios anyway?

The other initiative I want to mention is Africa on Screen. This link doesn’t give you a lot of recent info about it, but I think it’s a group of film-makers that formed after some Sierra Leone journalists made a  film in Australia – Darkness over Paradise – with footage they’d smuggled out of their country during the conflict. Bouyed by film-making tuition at Information and Cultural Exchange, a growing group of Africans in Sydney, from a wider range of countries, have been making more films. One, Colourblind, was screened at the Making Links conference digital arts festival. It was a moving short film about how racism can affect even people who are blind. It’s told entirely without words; very effective.

And finally, I didn’t get to finish my last post about the Aboriginal language Awabakal – just wanted to tell you that apparently the clergyman who wrote down the language in the 19th century was a Yorkshireman – and so when the community was trying to figure out how it would have been pronounced, they had to get in a linguist to ‘de-yorkshire’ it before they could proceed any further. Made me laugh – also made the token Yorkshireman who was at the conference laugh when I told him about it. So I leave you with this thought: how many other languages have been the victim of accent attack?

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Making links with language

I am shamelessly promoting a conference that I helped organise – Making Links 2008, a conference for not-for-profits on information technology, web development, multimedia & stuff like that. It has nothing whatever to do with bicultural parenting, but … yesterday there was a fantastic session about a database and training program called Miromaa  which has been set up to record Aboriginal languages in Australia. Continue reading

Who’s who

Before I write any further on my life in Ghana, it’s time to introduce the family. It’s a significant point of difference between Africa and the western world, that I could describe who I was staying with in the US in a sentence or two, but here in Ghana, it will take several pages. Partly this is because I’ll be mentioning them more than my US rels & friends, so I want to give a more detailed picture of who everyone is, but mainly because it’s a large extended family and a bit more complex than your average Australian – or American household. Continue reading

Catching up

We arrived in Ghana around dusk just over two weeks ago, after a luxury flight from Frankfurt with personal video screens and a wide selection of movies we hadn’t seen. ActionMan wasn’t happy with the glare on his screen so we swapped seats. I was happy with this arrangement as it meant I got the window seat, and to enjoy the extraordinary experience of seeing the Shara from 10 k’s above. It’s like flying over the ocean, in that all you can see is colour without depth, except when there are clouds – huge, bright white cloud castles floating above a bottomless, sandy haze. In the distance, a layer of cloud marks a border between sand and sky. What a gift to be able to see this sight. Continue reading

Castles, caravans & cargo

Apologies for getting into the alliteration again, but if there’s one thing I noticed about German Rivers, it’s these three c-words. Castles littered along the hillsides, caravan parks along the foreshores, and barges carrying cargo, which incidentally, from what I could see that wasn’t under tarpaulins, was mostly coal, shipping containers and cars. We also got a good look at allotments – I don’t know what they’re called in Germany, but I assume it’s a similar system to what I first found out about in The Netherands years ago – where urban apartment dwellers have a little block of land they can use for everything from growing vegies to boucing on a trampoline. I like the idea, it would make apartment living more bearable for me, to have that system in Sydney. Civilised! Continue reading

The Lingo Limbo Part 3

For years, I have been wanting someone – The Ghana Association perhaps, or DadaK’s church – to start Twi language classes for children. But, perhaps for the reasons I’ve speculated about in Lingo Limbo Part 1, no one has. And at some point last year I finally realised that if you really want something to happen, you have to do it yourself. Not that I wanted to start a language school – I’ve got quite enough on my plate thank you – but I decided to find a tutor. Continue reading

The Lingo Limbo Part 2

When I was about 11, I read the first two books of Lord of the Rings. Like Sam & Frodo, I got lost in the dour lands of Mordor; unlike them, I didn’t make it to the end – at least not that time. LOTR made a lasting impression on me in many ways, but in particular, it left me, as it did many others, with a strong desire to create my own fantasy world, complete with maps, languages, and mysterious dark strangers. And that’s how I spent much of my early teens. (This was pre-internet – there are now whole websites devoted to Tolkien’s Elvish). Continue reading