"Now there's no one left to ask". PDF Print E-mail

Mum was the last fluent speaker of our language, the memory of which she retained from childhood, despite having been incarcerated in Barambah (renamed Cherbourg) where severe punishment was meted out to anyone heard speaking an Aboriginal language. Such punishment included the withdrawal of the meager rations that the Superintendent allowed each person, or washing of the mouth with soap.

Despite this, the Elders secretly taught the children who would listen, the songs and languages handed down through thousands of years. Mum was one of those children. In turn she helped us by taping songs and assisting me in writing up our language.
Whenever I was unsure of the meaning of a word, I would get on the telephone or go and ask Mum. Just three weeks after her death, I needed to check the meaning of a word, but then the reality hit me - Mum's no longer here!

I pay this tribute to my Mum, and urge anyone whose language has very few speakers, to record the language, before it's too late and there's no one left to ask.

Eve Mumewa Doreen Fesi