Monday, May 29, 2006

The Best of Autumn Rain

The best of autumn rain
Edible mushrooms in the field
Toadstools need no mercy!

The flowering vines
Now in the tender arms
Of the antipodean autumn.

Empty feelings
In the autumn rain
Bees in hibernation.

Who says autumn is dead?
Witness the sacred bambo
In full bloom

The rainy days of autumn
Yellow leaves in full flight, still
Dreaming of the magnesium lost!

Behold the autumn rain
The omens are good
Whales on the way!

Night birds on the prowl
Lots of fun in the antipodean garden
Under the gentle autumn rain

The autumn rain
Washes away my sorrows
Vibrant spirit renewed.

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Conversation with Pele Okumu

Pele Okumu knows a great deal about the struggle for survival. But his new life in Australia has given him some hope and a few ideas to chew over. I had a chat with him a few days ago.

What is your country of origin?

I was born in Southern Sudan and grew up in the Acholi-speaking areas of the country till the war and famine forced me to leave. And I left my childhood behind!

How long have you been in Australia?

I 've lived in Australia, as a refugee, for six years

What do you like most about Australia?

I like the peace and security here. There is also a lot of opportunity for education and self-improvement. And the people are very nice!

What is your favourite food?

I have tried different types of dishes, since my arrival. But I’m still very passionate about the taste of African food – I like it spicy with lots of vegetables.

What is your favourite drink?

I like a glass of cold water. But, sometimes, I drink orange juice or fanta. Alcoholic beverage is not for me!

Favourite read?

I read non-fiction books. I also read newspapers, and magazines.

Favourite TV programs?

Reality TV is my favourite program. But I do watch the news, current affairs, and documentaries on the ABC and SBS. (I also listen to the BBC News.)

Favourite music?

African traditional music, pop, R & B.

What is your ultimate goal?

My goal is to travel around the world, help those in need, and be a good citizen. But, first, I must get a good education, and a better job.

What would you do to help improve the living conditions of African refugees in Australia?

Firstly, I would like to help the poor and single mothers who are really struggling to survive; and who are still crying out for affordable accommodation, living expenses and childcare.

The new arrivals also need all the support they can get in terms of access to education, and job opportunities. The young ones need special care and protection. And some have already lost their way!

I think they need a good dose of cultural orientation to remind them of their roots.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Enough is Enough

The Legal Services Commission of South Australia and the African Communities Council present “Enough is Enough: The Nile Family goes to Court”, a social drama on the implications of the family law for the new migrants and refugees.

The scene is set for a dramatic rendition of the marital problems in the new and emerging African communities in Australia. The theatrical presentation begins with Albert and Lina’s marriage in Liberia 12 years ago. Albert had a little shop, where he sold drinks and cigarettes. He had a basic education. But his wife, Lina, could not read or write.

In 1995, a year after their marriage, they fled the Liberian civil war to a refugee camp in the Republic of Guinea, West Africa, where they stayed until 2005 when they migrated to Australia as humanitarian entrants.

This is where the real drama begins. For several months, Albert had difficulty getting a job in Australia, but he is presently working as a packer at a timber yard. He now has more money than he ever had and is very happy.

But his marriage to Lina is on the rocks! And the reason is not hard to find: Albert controls all the money; exercising optimum “power” and authority over family affairs. He sends money to his family in Liberia but he won’t send any money to his wife’s family as the Liberian custom dictates. Lina complains bitterly!

Lina has been unhappy at home for quite a while. One night, there was a big fight and she decided “enough is enough” and left in disgust; taking all her three children with her.

Thus, as Lina makes her move, the real challenge is to try and save Albert’s marriage through mediation or third party intervention. But, this will not do!

In fact, there is a great deal of uncertainty as Lina’s solicitor makes an application to the family court. There’s an emotional pain and trauma and gnashing of teeth as the courtroom drama unfolds!

Enough is Enough: the Nile Family goes to Court is a beautiful and compelling piece of amateur theatre drawn from Africa’s cultural experience and the reality of life in the new and emerging African communities in Australia.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The African Journey

The Migrant Resource Centre of South Australia presents the African Journey at the Festival Theatre, 27 May 2006.

This, indeed, is a celebration of all things African - a spectacular journey of dance, drumming, and songs.

For more information, contact:

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Lonesome One

There’s nothing as lonesome
As the autumn flower on the hill,
As the restless spirit with no home
And as a survivor with no skill.

Nothing as lonesome as an orphan,
As a single lily in the summer’s pond;
As the superhero with no passion
And as the giant star in the sky beyond.

There’s no one as lonesome as the lost boy
Struggling for survival in the city of churches;
A young man we should discipline and employ
To help the aged and inspire the masses.

Nothing as lonesome as the beam of light
The messenger from the heavens we often see
In the glorious antipodean sky at night
So, let the natural beauty be!

None as lonesome as a solitary dancer
As the homeless man in a deserted park;
As the cold and empty bed of the new settler
And as the old and beautiful landmark.

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Bible and Your Health

The copies of the Holy Bible have been removed from the public hospital bedside tables across Australia, according to The Sunday Mail newspaper report.

The move is part of the infection control program in the health system. But those Australians, who see the Bible as a source of comfort, are not amused.

The new policy is based on the basic premise that while the Bible can effectively spread The Word, it can also spread germs or offend non-Christians.

Nevertheless, The Good Book will still be available to patients upon request.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Searching for Self

He came to the land Down Under
Frantically searching for self;
Showing tremendous courage
And nobility of purpose.

He is the brave survivor
Of Africa’s long wars and famine
The fighter of hunger and starvation;
A struggling soul in need of refuge!

Now, with his creative mind
Partly consumed by joblessness
And tormented by the weekly rent
He remains a stranger with no luck!

A sensitive being from way back
Doing the daily battle for survival
An innocent life fractured by emotions
As anger, sorrow and fear take their toll.

At dusk, he retreats to his humble abode
Sitting like an orphan in a cold and lonely night
Hopelessly lost and suffering in silence
A dejected soul in the suburb of light.

But, despite the meaninglessness of life,
His fighting spirit remains undiminished
The pain, suffering and degradation
Only fuelled his desire to prove himself.

His main goal is “to be somebody”
And to lead a life of love and compassion,
He wants to be more creative and successful
Where others have tried and failed.

Thus, as the unsung hero of the struggle,
He knows too well that things are changing
And that living under a different sun
Can be a rewarding experience.

He now believes there’s a glimmer of hope
A relief of some sort to soften the pain; and yet
As the earth moves, the future remains uncertain
Living on the edge is not for the faint-hearted.

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Great Escape from Hell

The Australian nation rejoices as Todd Russell and Brant Webb, the rescued miners of Beaconsfield, enjoy their second day of freedom; meeting friends, families, and well wishers after 14 nights in hell.

This is, definitely, one of the most successful rescue operations in the history of the mining industry.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Trapped Australian Miners Rescued

Two trapped Australian miners, Brant Webb and Todd Russell, have been successfully rescued after 14 days of entombment almost 1km underground.