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‘Education & Empowerment under the Leadership of Granpa James Maloga-Cummeragunja: 1881 -1922 Dr Wayne Atkinson-Yorta, Elder, Senior Fellow, University of Melbourne http: //waynera. wordpress. com/family-history-connections
Format of Talk n Profile on Thomas Shadrach James n From Mauritius to Uni Melb, Maloga & Cummeragunja. n The ‘Scholars Hut’ at Maloga-the ‘Power of the Voice and the Spear of the Pen’ n Granpa’s inspiration continues in Education and leadership today : Oncountry Learning program Uni Melb, 2013 -tenth anniversary awards.
Profile: Grandpa James, 1859 -1946 n. Born in Mauritius, 1859. Father was James Peer sahib and Mother Miriam Thomas from India who had son Shadrach James Peer sahib. Takes name of his mother Thomas as his first name and Fathers first name as his Surname-James. n. Shadrach lived with parents in Port Louis capital of Mauritius where he attended a private school. His Father was an interpreter in the Justice System representing Indentured labourers. n. Left Mauritius when he was 17, (1866) and some of family went to (Ceylon ) Sri Lanka whom he used to write to from Australia. n. His Aunty Pricilla who grew up in Sri Lanka comments that ‘poor Shadrach had a tough time being a coloured Muslim lad in a strange land ‘ (Mauritius). n. Studied Medicine at the University of Melbourne and then turned to Education- descendents followed in his footsteps at Uni Melb. n. Volunteered his services to help Yorta achieve, equality in Education and fundamental rights at Maloga. Cummera. n. Married Ada Cooper, Yorta of whom some 1200 descendants. n. Created the Scholars Hut at old Maloga where he mentored and educated the first generation of Indigenous political activists of the calibre of William Cooper, who was his brother in law. n. See Bibliography: http: //waynera. wordpress. com/ Ada Cooper
Location of Maloga & Cummeragunja 1874 -2009
Story: Scholars Hut & Coopers aptitude For learning see p. 2 Mathews Diaries
Grandpa's Education n Grandpa James, as he is affectionately known, was an outstanding scholar in medicine, history, politics and linguistics as well as a qualified teacher in education. n He was also knowledgeable in dispensing medicines and dentistry and was often called upon to administer medical and dental treatment in the region. n Grandpa brought these skills with him to Maloga and to Cummeragunja, where he became an admired leader, mentor and headmaster of the school.
Barriers to Education at Maloga. Cummera n Proscribed level of education allowed to be taught on reserves was to 3 rd grade (equal to an 8 year old white student) n Higher level of education was denied by the oppressive policies of the Aborigines Protection Board that overlorded the administration of reserves in NSW 1880 s to 1940 s-see 1938 NSW: Public Service Board Inquiry.
Quality of Education Achieved n Being able to provide the quality of education against the barriers that were imposed by the APB is a remarkable achievement n Lets look at some examples of this
Quality of Teaching n Encouraged students to be confident in their own abilities and taught them to be proud of their Yorta identity and to recognise the empowerment that comes from being able to articulate their grievances through the power of the voice and the spear of the pen. n Being influenced by the passion for human dignity and respect for one’s fellow people, regardless of race or creed, Grandpa was a strong believer in the political strategy of passive resistance- was a process that required patience, leadership and collective organisation-pre Ghandi times. n It was largely Granpa James’s style of teaching and William’s desire to gain justice for his people that combined to lay the foundation stones of what became the genesis of Yorta political philosophy and activism in 19 -20 th Century Indigenous rights based issues.
Scholars Hut: Place where Granpa mentored the first generation of Yorta activists n The image of the Scholars Hut, a candle burning into the night, and the intellectual stimulus that T. S. James was imparting to his students, is a powerful metaphor. n It is something that has had a profound effect on my generation’s desires to carry on from where Grandpa left off and to achieve in higher education- Individual empowerment which in turn creates community empowerment. n To understand the quality of education that was happening in the Scholars Hut we need to try and recreate the world of the first graduates and the pedagogy that Granpa brings.
Aptitude For Learning at Maloga n ‘The boy, Billy Cooper, shows great aptitude for learning. He has acquired a knowledge of the Alphabet, capital and small letters, in three days and then taught Bobby (his brother) capitals in –only one day’ (Nancy Cato, Mr Maloga, 1993: 51).
Writings of James Peersahib, 1850’s and his son Shadrach
Writings of Shadrach James Jnr & William Cooper: Spear of the Pen
Quality of Education unsurpassed n Quality of Edution being taught at Maloga and Cummera bought home by the many non-Indigenous students whom Grandpa taught at Maloga and later at the Cummeragunja reserve, including Matthews’ eldest son John, who went on to enjoy a privileged education in Melbourne, Adelaide, London and Canada. n On returning to Cummeragunja many years later and with a sense of gratitude he pays great ‘tribute’ to Grandpa, whom he said ‘laid the truest and finest foundation of his education’ and was a ‘teacher unsurpassed anywhere’. In comparing the quality of education being taught at Maloga and in mainstream schools, Maloga was equal to or above that of the average school, which John Kerr Matthews attributes to ‘the character and ability of Mr James’. [i] n [i] Riverine Herald, 16 August 1946.
Indigenous Political Movement 1930’s n Indigenous leaders of the 1930’s led by William Cooper, Doug Nichols, Jack Patten, Perl Gibbs, challenged the Governments control and asserted rights to justice & equality before the law & to full citizenship entitlements
Australian Aborigines League, 1932 William Cooper marched to German Consulate in Melbourne and spoke out about the persecution of Jewish People, after the Kristallnacht: The night of the Broken Glass. Jewish people attacked by Nazis who smashed shop windows burnt houses killing people and forcefully removing 30000 to prison camps. Uncle Williams work honoured by Israel planted red gum trees near Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Israel, 2009 with water from the Murray Dhungulla.
Summary of Education Pathway n Following the footsteps of Granpa, education became the tool of individual and community empowerment tracing its genesis to Maloga and Cummera and beyond- still an important living legacy in Yorta community today-example are graduates photos in Murrup Barak many of whom are descendants of Granpa James Including two scholars Andrea James Kimberley Maulton who are heading to UK on study programs. n Scholars hut has turned a full circle and continues to be a key metaphor in the teaching of Oncountry and the knowledge transfer that takes place between the local and academic world which in turn contributes to the Yorta political struggle n ‘Power of the Voice and the Spear of the Pen’ and Collective Organisation” are the key strategies used to achieve fair and just outcomes in Yorta Struggle, Land Justice, National Parks, Joint Management, 2010. n Will leave it there and open for discussion. n Thank You : Wayne
Oncountry Learning: Indigenous Studies, University of Melbourne