In my haste to get my last post up I forgot to mention Archie Roach. He came on right at the end of the conversation between Caroline Baum and Alice Walker. Alice had met him and his partner Ruby Hunter when she was a guest at the Adelaide Festival 22 Years ago, and she named one of his songs in her Desert Island Disc selection.
He told the story of his recent hard times: Ruby’s death, a stroke and lung cancer all in a shot period. Along with the staunchness of his friends it was music – composing and performing it – that helped him come out of the very dark place he found himself in. He performed ‘Took the Children Away’, and the final lines – ‘The children came back, I came back’ – had even deeper resonance than they have had in the past.
The awkwardness of the preceding conversation was forgotten.
And 22 years ago, during my exchange years teaching in western Japan, Archie ROACH’s “Took the Children Away” was a song and reality for contemporary Australians – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous – which I taught and spoke and sang about with many classes! At the same time during which a young US JET Program friend told me – a propos my reference to admiration of the writing of Alice WALKER – that he was a friend at Yale of her daughter. Many years later I learned that relationship between mother and daughter had been fraught – though movingly – in a very recent newspaper article leading to this Writers Festival – it appears a rapprochement has healed the rift.