Ali conquers Kolkata


On 13 January 2015 Ali Cobby Eckermann delivered the Navayana Annual Lecture in Kolkata’s Jadavpur University. Just the previous evening, the notorious VC of JU had resigned amidst much drama after a four-month struggle in which students and faculty had been involved. Ali began by saluting the spirit of #Hokkolorob (‘Let Their Be Clamour’) and wished them greater success. Then Ali’s partner, the poet Lionel Fogarty, sang a quick inspirational song to which he made everyone keep beat—Ali and Lionel had just returned from Shantiniketan and were full of the spirit of Baul songs.

In her talk, “Give Me Back my Mother’s Heart”, Ali retraced her life’s journey—her abuse as a seven year old at the house of her adopted white family, her efforts to find her real mother, and her mother’s efforts to find her own—a story that reflected the travails of the Stolen Generations of Australia. Despite the celebrations in JU over their recent success, there was a good turnout at the event. Two books—Broken by Neglect (a bilingual edition of Ali’s poetry published by Jadavpur University) and the Navayana edition of Too Afraid to Cry—were launched on the occasion. Two JU students then performed an Ali poem in English to guitar. Ali had conquered Kolkata!

Those in Delhi could listen to Ali speak about mining and the impact on Indigenous Australia—“The Kangaroo is Dead at the Waterhole”, 7 pm, 17 January 2015, Stein auditorium, India Habitat Centre. Looks like we in India who import deadly ore from Australia will have blood on our hands.

To buy Ali’s powerful memoir, click here.

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