I first heard Vulla Vunnah nah as a song…. a gentle lilting lullaby, which Patricia sang to me. The year was 1997 and Patricia was in Education, lecturing at the Institute of Korrie studies at Deakin Uni in Geelong.
We had been asked to sing at Sorry Days, (commemorating the Stolen Generation) at various schools and events. We were working out what to sing and Patricia sang Vulla Vunnah nah to me.
It was so beautiful to hear her sing the lullaby in language. I remember feeling deeply moved and tears rolled down my face as I heard the sound of the language of her birth country, and the sound of the languages that make up Patricia’s ancestry–Portuguese, African American, Indian, Cherokee and Aboriginal all blended to make this unique sound over Millennia. As a little girl Pat told me her Dad would sing it to her while sitting on his knee.
The stolen generation had profoundly affected her family and many other Gunditjmara families…torn apart by assimilation policies of the day. Patricia would explain to audiences that they were not allowed to speak in their language growing up on the Framlingham Mission.
The song survived through it all though, and I invited Patricia to record and sing the song with me on my Butterfly CD.
The song has taken Patricia on a journey, and continues with this, her second book with her unique images that bring to life once more the voices and language of her old people.
As a founding member of the celebrated Tarerer Arts Festival, begun in Warrnambool in 1995, Patricia has been at the forefront of a Cultural Renaissance in the South West of Victoria, through Art, Song and Dance, Story and Care for Country.
Foreword by Marcia Howard.