I had a hard time focusing while we performed. The true meaning of the song rang truer than ever before. We “Ombayo“.
This past weekend, I was extremely privileged to be invited, as part of Island Breeze/Proper Way, to go to Palm Island to take part in the very first Stable on Palm. For the last 12 years, Townsville’ City Counsel in partnership with the local churches, have had a community wide Christmas event. Stable on the Strand is a week long celebration of Christmas held on Townsville’s main beach The Strand. This year was the first year for Stable to expand to Palm Island (An Aboriginal community 2hrs of the coast of Townsville.)
Island Breeze and Proper Way are Island dance groups that both aim to redeem cultures through cultural dances and songs. Being asked to perform for Palm Island’s Stable on Palm meant that we would be bringing not only the true message of Christmas but also cultural flavours as well as island dances.
Cultural expressions have been such taboo or hidden practices among the Australian Aboriginals in the past couple decades. Although apologies were made to the “Stolen Generations”, the damaged caused to the Aboriginal culture hasn’t been forgotten and identity confusion still reigns. Cultural expressions are slowly resurfacing in the younger generations, but is still vary far from being embraced with pride.
Throughout the weekend, had the opportunity to mingle and share with the Aboriginal youth. The Island Breeze boys made quite an impression on the youth the first day and it resulted in a great increase in connections and interactions the following day. Youths even took part in the festivities and decided to present impromptu cultural items the following evening. It was so good to see the youth stand up to “Shake a Leg”!
My favourite part was to hear how positively surprised the young girls were to see Palangi (Caucasian) ladies performing traditional island dances. All of the sudden, it wasn’t dark skinned islanders dancing and taking pride in their culture. It was Palangis seeing value in island cultures and choosing to identify with it despite their difference in skin tones.
Our presence on Palm Island very much demonstrated the beauty of island cultures and greatly encouraged Aboriginal youths to embrace their God given cultural traits.
For the privilege to be there, for the time spent with the youth, I Ombayo. I give praise.