Friday, 10 August 2012

Tweet tweet, oh fricken chicken, how do I delete

I have finally joined the twitter-verse. Quick think of something profound and then share it! I think that's how this works as evidenced by infamous tweeters like Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou, Swiss soccer player Michel Morganella and our very own Eliota Sapolu Fuimaono. Oh no! I accidentally hit enter, oh no! Delete, delete, where is the bloody delete?!? There goes my Olympic dream (it was definitely twitter, not the lack of any sporting bone in my entire body).

I suddenly feel the need to hash tag something (even though I'm not quite sure what the hash tag is for). Clueless# OldFogey# CompletelyAncient# AllTooComplicated# Why-didn't-they-invent-all-this-when-I-was-still-in-school-and-still-had-enough-energy/braincells-to-pick-up-new-fangled-things# Why-does-my-smartphone-make-me-feel-so-dumb?# Questions-for-the-Universe#

Now I can share all my deep and meaningful thoughts with the universe ...............................................
............................................................................................................................................... I haven't thought of anything deep and meaningful for the last 5 seconds.  Oh no! Am facing the distinct possibility I don't have any deep and meaningful thoughts generally. Other peoples' tweets keep on popping up.....oh the pressure.....hmmm ....that one links to a really interesting article. Click. I'm-as-easily-distracted-as-a-puppy# Am-quite-sure-if-there-was-social-media-when-I-was-in-school-I-would-have-flunked-out# Oh hashtags you are so satisfying- how did I ever express myself without you!

I'm going to RT which google tells me means re-tweet- that way I will look clever by association. I just re-tweeted without giving any context...hmmmm.... perhaps not so clever after all. Perhaps I'll just go back to my blog. My warm, safe, familiar blog where I can delete and edit at will. And write about tweeting so that you can all follow my flailing and fraught adventures and attempts to be funny by following me @TeineSamoaSyd

Thursday, 2 August 2012

"I'll stand with you"

Three Proud People- mural in Newtown

I didn't know about Peter Norman until Damien Hooper wore the Aboriginal flag on his t-shirt into the Olympic arena just before he kicked ass for Australia.  Incredulous that the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) had chosen to censure him citing IOC rule 50 and the sanctity of the Olympic spirit, my mind which works in strange and mysterious ways, flashed with one of the most memorable images of the twentieth century history- Tommie Smith and John Carlos silently raising their fists in protest against the inequality suffered by African-Americans in the 1968 Olympics.  I can't tell you when I first saw that image but I can say that I definitely I didn't pay any attention to whoever the skinny white guy was.
I didn't know that Peter Norman, an Australian who was "brought up in the Salvos", was, against all odds, the silver medalist in that race in 68. I didn't know that he and his family had championed Aboriginal rights in the lead-up to the 67 referendum. I didn't know that Tommie Smith and John Carlos had told him that they were planning to protest, nor that he had pinned the Olympic Project for Human Rights badge to his chest in solidarity and said, "I'll stand with you".
I didn't know that he had stood there in both the moment of shocked silence and then the storm that followed, while people hurled whatever was to hand as well as racial abuse- "Niggers need to go back to Africa!" and, "I can't believe this is how you niggers treat us after we let you run in our games." John Carlos recounted the experience saying he never saw the fear he expected to see in Peter Norman's eyes, instead,  "I saw love. Peter never flinched (on the dais). He never turned his eyes, he never turned his head."
Just taking that stand, just wearing that badge cost Peter Norman very dearly- Australia's Olympic authorities reprimanded him and the media ostracised him. On his return to Australia he was also banned for two years. Despite running qualifying times for the 100m five times and 200m 13 times during 1971/72, the Australian Olympic track team did not send him to the 1972 Summer Olympics (though he was ranked 5th in the world and despite the fact that they had noone else to send so that this was the first modern Olympics since 1896 where no Australian sprinters participated). Even 32 year later, despite the fact Peter Norman's record still stood for the 200 metres,  he was somehow "overlooked" and the only Australian Olympian medal winner to be excluded from making a VIP lap of honour at the Sydney Games in 2000.  But Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who he had stood with all those years ago, had not forgotten him. Neither had the American Athletes who welcomed him into their accomodation- "that year's 200m champion Michael Johnson hugged him, saying: "You are my hero."

I'm proud that our nation, that has so much to be sorry for and ashamed of, also produces people like Peter Norman.  I wish I could attribute the fact I didn't know about this great Australian to the fact I grew up in Samoa but as I read on I realised how little was known about him by many of my fellow Australians. Which brings me back to Damien Hooper, whose t-shirt triggered that image and taught me about Peter Norman, an Australian Olympian who made a silent stand for human rights for all humanity. 44 years on the AOC doesn't seem to have learnt anything from that stand.

I am really struggling to see how the AOC can say that the Aboriginal flag is a "demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda" as set out in rule 50 of the Olympic Charter.  As an Australian, I find it incredibly offensive that the Aboriginal flag, proclaimed by the Australian Government as an official 'Flag of Australia' in 1995 (under s5 of the Flags Act 1953) is being labeled "racial propaganda". I also can't reconcile the AOC's position with the fact that at the Sydney Olympics the Aboriginal flag was flown, that the Sydney Games Organising Committee said  "The IOC has made it clear that they are relaxed about the Aboriginal flag and they understand its significance in Australia" and individual teams were able to decide whether athletes carried it. Who can forget Cathy Freeman's victory lap with the Aboriginal and Australian flags flowing behind her as the whole nation cheered on?

As a non-indigenous Australian, I'm part of a nation that recognises both the Aboriginal and the Australian National Flag and I'm proud to be associated with both.  And I'm cheering on an amazing athlete who said at the end of his match "I am an Aboriginal, representing my culture and all my people, and I am very proud".

Damien Hooper- I'll stand with you.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Who's who in the zoo

In the weekend we went to the zoo. Not just any old zoo.  The Taronga Zoo, jewel in Sydney's tourism crown, complete with 'bio-geographic' mega-exhibits and committed to conservation and "positive connections between wildlife and people".  Now as a Samoan, I have to admit that my "positive connections" with wildlife have by in large been called "lunch" (or sometimes "dinner"), so you may be wondering which part of this magnificent manifestation of this slightly strange concept appealed to me most... Was it the languorous lazing lions, the swiftly swimming seals or the great giraffes with their improbable necks which afford them spectacular views of the sparkling Sydney harbour? Well, what I really love about the zoo, is how it reaffirms the natural order of things, how it really reminds you who's who.

As soon as we arrive my mum, begins scanning the zoo timetable.  "We need to head to the kids trail so Lagi can pat-a-pet at 10.30."

"Ok, it's quarter to 10 now, so we have heaps of time."

"The quickest way is left, don't get diverted, we need to go straight to the petting zoo, I really think Lagi will love that."  Having been herded in the appropriate direction, we tramp off in search of pets for Lagi's petting pleasure.

"Don't look left or right, we don't want to be late."  We get there at 10.15.  Lagi immediately starts trying to break the bunny out, by pulling on the large lock. My mum captures about 50 shots of him doing this for posterity while I secretly wonder at whether this experience will imprint on him and he will become a master criminal with super safe cracking abilities.

While I mull over my child's possible future as a super villain, the volunteers turn up. Lots of little ones and their parents are now milling around waiting.  I am jockeyed into prime position by my mum.  The bunny sees us coming and quickly hops to the relative safety of the back of the enclosure.  Lagi, unused to such contrary behaviour to his 17 month old charms, laughs out loud and picks up some straw and confidently holds it out with a big smile to the bunny.  More flashes go off as mum elbows more minors out of the way to catch all the action. 

Having petted to his heart's content, we then explore the rest of the farm, there are chickens to chase, and mountain goats to gawk at.  E tua'i le fefe la'u tama - so when I see him starting to toddle after the towering bush turkey, I know it's time to distract him in the traditional Samoan way... with food!   Off we go to a cafe to order carrot cupcakes (with one last longing look at the red velvet cupcakes ... edicts on red velvet and their consumption in front of Lagi, evil red food poisoning and all, had previously been issued).

"Have you only half-finished that coffee, because we really need to get over to the bird show, Lagi loves birds"and we are hot footing it to the other side of the zoo, where Lagi decides he was actually a Raj in a previous life and would rather ride on the stone elephants, then it's hiking over to the "Great Southern Ocean exhibit so he can be delighted by the ducking and darting of the pretty blue fairy penguins, before letting him try to catch carp in the rainforest exhibit. By the 2pm seal show we are all exhausted.  But having secured a seat we decide to stay and watch, Lagi has seen all this before and decides he'd rather snuggle into me and sleep.

 He is warm and heavy in my arms and my mind wanders, to how fast he is growing and to how we used to have a lunch date every day. He would come into the city, and no matter what was going on that day, I would duck out of work.  I loved seeing him in the middle of a busy work day, but it wasn't always convenient, and by the time he was turning one, and was happily devouring all sorts of delicious foods wth his very pretty and  very sharp pearly whites, I thought he probably wouldn't miss mummy too much at lunch times.  I had cautiously mentioned my intentions to my mum - Lagi's  primary carer/ enabler/ champion against the world and, in particular, against his neglectful and unfeeling mother mama.  A look full of doubt and worry was immediately cast in my direction to convey just how uncaring I was being, considering such a catastrophic change.

"I breastfed all four of you until you were at least two. It's in the W.H.O guidelines." Hinting at endangering  health and going for guilt are great techniques and can be employed especially effectively when championing your grandchild.

"Yes, I'm still going to breastfeed him, just not at lunch time."

"I think I may have even breastfed you longer, maybe even till three" Apparently, exageration is also permitted when you are proving your point, especially if the person you are making your point to is not in a position to argue as they were only two (or three) at the time in dispute.

Splash! I am brought back to reality as the seal ends the show with a double back flip.  We gather up our things and start preparing to head home. As we walk out with a very tired little boy, past all the exhibits we didn't quite manage to get to, I glance at the gorillas, and smile thinking about their social structure, and how visiting here has reminded me yet again of our own; Here's who's who in our zoo:

1. Lagi
2. Lagi
3. Lagi

Facilitator / Enforcer of all things Lagi: Lagi's Mama

Support Staff: Me (oh.... and his dad)

I look down at the long sweep of his eyelashes, and think I don't much mind the natural order.