This weekend just past was a weekend of delving into history for my family and I. As I wrote once before, the “N” word is banned in our house, yet none of my family arrived with the historical knowledge to understand why, apart from what little I told them. The history is scary and I wanted to introduce them slowly to a past they did not know in depth. This weekend in Australia a wonderful telemovie was broadcast: Mabo, by BlackFella Films. While many Australian readers will be aware of the history, new arrivals may not be, nor may overseas readers.
Mabo is the story of Eddie ‘Koiki’ Mabo, a man who was horrified to discover in 1973 the land his family had farmed for many, many generations was no longer, under white laws, his. He fought the system and on June 3, 1992 the High Court of Australia returned ownership of his land to him, overturning the laws established when white men arrived in Australia of the land being considered unoccupied: the fiction of terra nullius. Sadly, Eddie had died six months before of cancer: he didn’t live to see his victory for his people.
The movie was directed by Rachel Perkins, who also produced Bran Nue Day and First Australians. Rachel has an interesting family history herself as her father, Charles Perkins, was the first First Australian to graduate from university.