Baha'i News -- An Exotic Tale of Afghan Islam in Australia
An Exotic Tale of Afghan Islam in Australia
Born to an Aboriginal mother and an Afghan father, "Jila" is the central character of a new Australian film, Serenades,
that explores the complex interaction of Islamic, Aboriginal and Christian cultures late in the 19th century in Central
Australia. The director of Serenades, Mojgan Khadem, is an Iranian-born Baha'i from Adelaide, whose own experience
as a refugee to Australia has made her acutely aware of women's struggle for independence, identity, and love in traditional
cultures. We also hear from historian Christine Stevens. Her books Tin Mosques and Ghantowns and White Man's
Dreaming provided the background to the film, and Christine worked on the screenplay of Serenades with the director.
Featured throughout this week's program is the original music from the movie soundtrack composed by Davood Tabrizi.
with Rachael Kohn |
on Sunday 3/06/01
An Exotic Tale of Afghan Islam in Australia
Details or Transcript:
When Afghan cameleers cross-crossed the desert and Lutheran missionaries evangelised to the Aboriginal inhabitants of Central
Australia, a rare meeting of religions and cultures was played out n the 19th century. And itís the subject of a new film called
Hello and welcome to An Exotic Tale of Islam in Australia. Iím Rachael Kohn and youíre
listening to The Spirit of Things on Radio National.
Serenades takes place in the dry brown desert
landscape, flat desert landscape in the north of South Australia between the Ghan town, the Afghan town of Maree which is the
northernmost railhead, and a Lutheran mission station about 80-odd kilometres to the north, in an isolated part of the, well
itís actually desert dunes around Killalpaninna Mission Station.
Rachael Kohn: Later in the program
weíll be speaking to historian Christine Stevens, who has worked on the film for some years and has written two books which
provided background for the story. The film is about religious conflict, a search for identity, and the triumph of love. And
although it is set in the 19th century, itís a film that is like a parable, which speaks to all times and all places, where
religious intolerance and misunderstanding have prevailed. And where havenít they flourished?
The screenplay of
Serenades was written by Mojgan Kadhem. She is a member of the Baha'i faith, which has endured its own share of oppression
in its native Iran, where Baha'is are persecuted and regarded as a deviant outgrowth of 19th century Islam.
Her aim in
this film is to convey something about the religious oppression which women in particular have endured, but more generally about
the way in which people of different religious traditions are often captive to bigotry and intolerance. And weaving through the
film is the scarlet thread of love.
Mojgan Kadhem speaks to me from Adelaide.
Mojgan Kadhem, welcome to The Spirit
Mojgan Khadem: Thank you.
Rachael Kohn: Mojgan, first congratulations on a very beautiful
film. Itís not easy bringing a story to the cinema thatís about religious oppression, but it is something that you would be
familiar with as a Baha'i.
Mojgan Khadem: Yes, indeed. I felt that it was a story that I really wanted to research
and delve into, that involved different religions and different races, and I guess being a Baha'i I have experienced that
first-hand and it played a very important role in my personal journey, and I couldnít help but want to express that in a
Rachael Kohn: You were in fact a refugee in Australia, is that right?
Mojgan Khadem: Well we
were refugees when we were in Spain, but we applied for Australian permanent residency and it took three years to obtain that
visa, and then when we arrived in Australia we had permanent residency, and so our status was not one of being a refugee at that
Rachael Kohn: Your homeland is actually Iran, is that right?
Mojgan Khadem: Thatís right,
thatís where I was born, yes.
Rachael Kohn: Can you briefly tell the story about
Mojgan Khadem: Well Serenades is set in the 1890s and it tells the story of a young girl
called Jila and her conception takes place as a result of the liaison between an Afghan cameleer and an Aboriginal woman. Once
she is born she is very much a hybrid character in the middle of the Australian outback and a third culture kind of plays a big
role in her make-up and her development and that is the Lutheran German missionaries where she grows up for the first seven years
of her life, or nearby that mission. So she becomes more and more kind of complex in her affinities and her allegiances. Really
sheís very confused on a spiritual level and on a cultural level.
Rachael Kohn: Is that what attracted you to the
character in a way, or propelled you to write about a character like this? Did you draw on your own experiences, being a Baha'i
in Australia, and the sort of confusion that that might have aroused in you?
Mojgan Khadem: Well definitely Iím
inspired by the principle of unity which is a principle of the Baha'i faith, which really wants to promote a harmonious kind of
an existence no matter what cultural religion we happen to be a part of.
But to tell you the truth I think very much on a
storytelling kind of a level, and Iím an avid reader of Joseph Campbell who is a world authority on myths and the mythical
dimension that is often included in the stories that we tell. And I believe that the most important myth of our time is that of
religious and ethnic or cultural conflicts. I think itís a subject that is very much all around the world, one that has brought
about a great deal of conflict and a great deal of bloodshed. The whole concept of ethnic cleansing, the religious wars that we
have been witnessing around the world.
Rachael Kohn: I guess thatís one of the reason why I thought your film
Serenades was so timely, because we are seeing a lot of religious oppression and religious struggles against modernity,
and yet in the midst of all this, there are these very singular human stories of individuals who are trying to find their way,
like Jila in the film. And that makes them sort of universal; is that what youíre getting at?
Absolutely. Thatís exactly what Iím getting at. Iím telling the story of an individual character who is very much connected to
three very different ways of thought and belief. And yet there is an essential love that she has for the Aboriginal culture, for
the Afghan culture, and for the Lutheran Christian culture, and she canít deny that love for any one of them, so whether she
likes it or not, she is part of all these religions and all these cultures, and she cannot choose one above the other, and
thatís what makes her existence incredibly difficult.
Rachael Kohn: And yet I did feel in the film that she
suffered most under the traditional Islamic attitudes to women, that men ruled the household, that they buy and sell their brides
to the highest bidder and which she was caught up in that. Did you yourself bring some of your own attitudes or experiences in
traditional Islamic culture and explore the way women have tried to free themselves from some of the extreme aspects of
Mojgan Khadem: Well I didnít want to show any one culture as the baddies you know, but I canít help but
observe the way that women are treated in the Middle East and within Islamic kind of traditions. And they are not very much given
an opportunity to have a voice or have their own choices. Theyíre very much under the control of a very male oriented kind of a
culture, and yet Iím not blaming anyone for this way that things are, Iím just saying perhaps we need to question and we need
to review the situation, and we need to help the women in these cultures to have enough self esteem and enough education and
enough choice so that they can be the authors of their own destiny.
Rachael Kohn: Yes well I actually thought that
your film really captured a certain poignancy about the Afghan cameleers who came here, because on the one hand they were proud
tribesmen, but on the other hand they did meet up with suspicion and trust of the local Europeans, and even the Aboriginals who
also feared them.
Mojgan Khadem: Yes, I think that every character that is seen as an authoritative character, as a
dictatorial character or one that brings about the oppression of others, if you really delve into the make-up of that character
you will probably find that they have their own history of oppression, their own history of struggle, their own vulnerabilities
and they are perhaps victims of a certain prejudice in their own life, and then they, in return, make others victims of a certain
kind of control that they expect in their own family members, or people that they can control. Thatís really the character of
Shir Mohammed, the father of Jila. He has his own vulnerabilities but he also expects his immediate family to live the way he
wants them to live.
Rachael Kohn: Yes, very much so. Your film is really very good at depicting how these different
groups in 19th century South Australia were both strengthened by their beliefs, but often in a way which left little room for
basic human compassion.
Mojgan Khadem: Exactly.
Rachael Kohn: Was that really the story behind
Mojgan Khadem: Yes. At the end of the day I am depicting characters who are one thing or another as
far as the categories of religion and culture are concerned, and yet they are all people, and I think that the irony of the story
is that they place their categories or their tags of what religion they are, or what culture they are, above the basic human
necessities of love and compassion, and I think when that happens youíve got a tragedy on your hands, and thatís what it
Father: How many times do I have to repeat myself in this house? I was
offered for 100-pounds for your bride price. How much do you think that itíll pay to keep up that sort of
Woman: A hundred pounds? Whoíd pay that for her?
Father: Thatís my business.
Jila: Heís not a
cameleer, is he?
Father: What does that have to do with anything? You will marry whoever I say. If I say you marry a
monkey, you say, Where do I get the bananas?
Rachael Kohn: From the film Serenades, where
the Afghan father tells his daughter Jila, born of an Aboriginal woman, whatís in store for her.
Your main character,
Jila, who weíve been talking about, was probably like so many Aboriginal people who were brought to Lutheran missions; they were
fascinated by the hymns and the Christmas carols, the pretty dresses, and indeed the church piano. But as children they were
unwittingly caught between two worlds. Mojgan, for this film did you speak to Aboriginal people whoíd experienced this kind of
life between two cultures?
Mojgan Khadem: I did speak to Aboriginal people, but you know, often they are incredibly
shy and it takes time before they open up and trust you enough to actually let you know a little about the reality of their
thoughts and their emotions. And with a handful of them I was able to have a relationship where they would tell me things and in
between those little stories that they would tell me, I would find characteristics that I could introduce into my story.
But before talking to anyone, I also had to do a lot of reading of my own, and I had to equip myself with basic research
of what went on and whatís actually written about what happened in the 1890s in the middle of the Australian outback. And I also
watched a lot of documentaries. One of the documentaries that I watched was one called Lousy Little Sixpence, I donít
know if youíve ever seen it, but I found it was very, very moving and it told me a great deal about the way that the Aboriginal
girls particularly were treated and the way they felt in these missions that they lived in, and there is a song that one of the
characters sings in a womenís scene in the film, and that song I included because one of the women in Lousy Little Sixpence
tells of the way they would sing that song around the mission. And it talks about how they would do chores and how they would
learn to wash and iron and cook and clean, and they were taught all of this at the mission in the name of Jesus, because they
would have to do all of this for Jesus because Jesus does so much for them. Itís directly from the words of one of the ladies in
that documentary, and I think if itís meaningful, itís because itís true.
Woman: We loved, it was very
romantic. I left a note at the brothel for the madam to say Iím so sick of this life; I am marrying a man who has a black face
but a white heart. Farewell, I go!
Woman: Iíve never met a woman like you.
Woman: Itís often a better life than
this cooking and cleaning.
Woman: We didnít even get paid for that at the mission.
Woman: Ah, but you were doing
it all for Jesus.
(SINGS) In the house and out the door,
Chopping wood and scrubbing floor,
ironing, mending too,
Sometimes making a pot of stew.
I do it all for Jesus, I do it all for Jesus,
I do it
all for Jesus, he does so much for me.
Rachael Kohn: I think one of the most poignant moments in
the film, perhaps the most profound moment, is when Jila yells out in frustration that she hates all gods; sheís prayed to them
and they hate her, or they donít care for her.
Mojgan Khadem: I remember writing and rewriting that scene and the
words that Jila speaks in that scene, and just refining it here and there, and every time I would get to it, I would find myself
Now I know that this is really silly because youíre writing something and youíre sitting there in this room and
just crying, but I did that. And a lot of people have told me that that is a moment that they find incredibly meaningful, and I
guess it was a moment that came out of the flow of the story and the journey of the character, and I couldnít see any other way
but for her to explode, and for once move away from here passive kind of character, into a character that has to express the way
she feels. Itís like a fire, thatís it, itís ignited and itís wild and it cannot be contained no more. And she speaks words
that come from a sense of feeling oppressed.
I think the word Ďoppressioní is what I wrote very big, and I put it right
in front of my desk when I was writing, because my main character of Jila was feeling oppressed as a result of not knowing who to
turn and which god to believe in, because all of them were telling her a different thing, were expecting different things from
her, and yet she had an essential link to all of them. She had an Aboriginal mother that she loved, and she felt a part of, and
she lost and mourned over; she has an Afghan father that provided for her and developed her character, and the woman that she
becomes, and she has the love of a little boy that she grew up with who happens to be a Christian.
She is very much
linked to three different opinions, and three different gods. And of course she prays to all of them because she has a love for
all of them. And yet because there is no harmony between them, she cannot find a harmony within herself. And so finally she
Father: Look at yourself, a wretched black who is neither a Christian nor a Muslim, maybe even
guilty of murder, no place to go.
Johann: Father, she has come to us for help.
Father: We canít trust her, that
girl has the devil in her. She will devour your soul.
Johann: And her soul is less valuable than mine.
introduces death. Johann, I beg you, hear the word of God...
Johann: Jila, please, for Godís sake.
Donít speak to me of God. Your God hates me, and I hate your God, I hate all gods. Iíve prayed to them all, and Iíve prayed
for them to love me and for me to love them, and not one of them has been with me. Not one!
They all hate me.
Johann: Jila, you are mistaking the hatred of man for the hatred of God. God is love and he loves you. I
swear by the heavens that I have never met anyone who deserves so much love.
Kohn: But isnít this also a story of failed gods, an indictment of religion, the Afghan men who were bigoted and vengeful,
and the Christian missionaries who are weak and ultimately racist?
Mojgan Khadem: And that is the myth of our time.
That is the myth of our time, the failure of cultures and religions if they cannot bring an essential sense of peace to the world
that we live in. If they continuously are warlike and bring about the bloodshed of masses of people and the oppression of
individuals, then what are they doing, what are they for, and perhaps itís best to do without them if theyíre going to do no
more than oppress us.
I believe that is the myth of our time, and every time I turn on the television it just does not
change. I still hear stories from around the world on the news that tell me that masses of people run in the streets in England
recently because there is race conflicts, and I hear that a Pakistani man who is a taxi driver cannot get any fares because he is
basically scared that anyone who enters his taxi may actually be violent towards him.
And you hear that in Afghanistan,
people have to wear badges because theyíre Hindu or of another minority that is not Muslim, and you hear in the Balkans the
Christians and the Muslims cannot find a way of keeping a peaceful kind of relation. I mean it is going on around the world on a
very real basis, then what myth is bigger that, than us having to really look into that, that aspect of our life. The race and
the religious conflicts of our time, and perhaps enough is enough, perhaps we need to on an individual level, stand up and say I
have had enough of this, I donít want to know about any of it if itís going to bring me in the short span of life that Iíve
got on this earth, nothing but trouble and oppression and misery.
Mojgan Khadem: Mojgan, hearing you now, this
passion that you have, makes it obvious why the film Serenades, is so powerful even though it is slow and elegant and
rather beautiful, very sensitive. It is actually quite a powerful film. And in the end it celebrates the renewal of Jilaís
Aboriginal identity, and in that thereís a strong kind of contemporary feeling or message. Itís a moment of redemption and also
possible love, as her childhood sweetheart or friend is seen coming towards her over the ridge. Is your message about the
importance ultimately of being yourself?
Mojgan Khadem: Definitely it includes that, yes. I think that
self-knowledge is essential to a fulfilling kind of a life, itís just that there are barriers to that knowledge of self, and
perhaps we will never really know who we are but we can at least be assisted in that search. The secret is love, OK. Let me tell
you. At the end of the day, the secret is that no philosophy and no religion is going to give us a fulfilling experience of life
unless it allows us to be loving towards ourself and towards others.
Rachael Kohn: So in fact the love of the young
man for Jila is the thing which may indeed overcome the barriers and the racism?
Mojgan Khadem: Yes, the last
speech that Johann gives in the church before he steps out of that church, a church that has been built by his father and itís
really a tradition that he is expected to follow and be the leader of in the years to come, he steps out of it after reading
straight out of the Bible the words that say that even if I speak in the tongues of angels and yet I have no charity, I am like a
That word Ďcharityí has recently in the Bible been changed to the word Ďloveí, I guess 100 years ago charity
was a word that meant something closer to love, and now that has been replaced. I chose to go with the word Ďcharityí because
that was more authentic to the time that I was making the film. But basically I think the words of the Bible are telling us that
if you stand up on a soapbox and tell the world in tongues of angels about very meaningful stuff and yet you have no charity for
the people who live around you and you cannot extend a helping hand to somebody when theyíre crying in front of you, then
youíre really no more than a cymbal. You kind of are bereft of meaning; it means nothing; all the words in the world donít add
up to anything unless there is an action that speaks much louder than words, and that action has got to be filled with love.
And I chose to call the film Serenades because I think that beyond words, music has a very deep meaning and is
filled with emotion, and it can tell us a lot more than words ever can, and when Johann as a little boy plays music for little
Jila, or when he keeps a promise and plays music as an adult to Jila, what heís doing is more than just filling the air with
vibrations of sound, heís actually telling her something that words cannot tell her. Thatís the beauty of art, of music, and I
think it can perhaps play a much bigger role in the make-up of our emotions.
Rachael Kohn: That sounds very much
like a Baha'i perspective.
Mojgan Khadem: Well the Baha'i perspective tells me that if religion is going to be the
cause of a nightmare in your life, then do without that religion. And I embrace that.
I am a Baha'i because that is the
religion that makes the most sense to me, and if I find one thatís going to make more sense I will embrace that, but I havenít
found one yet. It is an all-embracing religion, and it says that I must give more respect to those who uphold a different
religion to me than even I give to my own religion, being a Baha'i. I have to understand that every religion has been a part of
an ongoing developing landscape of spirituality, and I respect every step of that advancement, be it called Buddhism or Hinduism
or Zoroastrian or Muslim or Christian, or indeed Baha'i. It doesnít matter what you call it. I think if you find time to live a
kind of a moral standard of your own, be it on an individual basis or on a mass basis, it doesnít matter; you finally are a
judge of your own kind of beliefs, and it doesnít matter what you call it, what name you go by.
Mojgan Khadem, itís been a delight talking to you and best of luck on your film, Serenades.
Thank you so much.
Rachael Kohn: Now for the other writer of the film, with whom Mojgan Khadem
collaborated for some years. Christine Stevens is an historian whose books, White Manís Dreaming and Tin Mosques and
Ghantowns, provided her with the rich material on which she based her story for the film,
Father: When I was your age my father sent me with his best camels to India. He wanted me
to learn the ways of the world. Eight months later I returned to find that my village had been burnt to the ground, and both my
parents were killed. Iíve never told this story, but Iím telling you because I want you to know that life isnít about love,
itís about struggle. Love is for books and poetry, not real life. You marry the Mullah and you have a future without struggle,
peaceful, peace of life with a man that can provide. You will never be hungry or without a roof over your head. You canít ask
for more than that.
Rachael Kohn: My sense is that people who go to see Serenades will be
most intrigued by the Afghans. Who were they, how many of them came to Australia?
Christine Stevens: Well there
were never any statistics kept on this particular emigration. These people came, largely contracted labour, generally for a
three-year period. Originally they were brought in to accompany explorers like Burke and Wills for the prestigious Victorian
exploration party, in the race the first across the continent. And the 24 camels were brought in with that consignment and three
Afghans. And they were so successful in their endeavour to cross the country that it was noted by a man called Thomas Elder in
the north of South Australia that these animals would be very good transport animals in the desert areas there where horses were
in fact failing.
Rachael Kohn: So the Afghans kept coming, I imagine, because this was a successful form of
Christine Stevens: Yes, it was very successful. In fact at the time that the rescue parties were out
looking for the lost Burke and Wills, Thomas Elder was in McKinlayís party, he was out in the north of South Australia with a
party looking, and thatís when he first noticed some of these camels that were used, and at the time the north of South
Australia in particular was experiencing a very bad drought. Also pastoralists had pushed further and further north into what
they thought was productive country and Thomas Elder was one of the big entrepreneurs in the north of South Australia.
he had this idea to bring camels in as transport animals to service the interior of the country, and his was the first experiment
that introduced camels as a commercial industry into Australia.
Rachael Kohn: How wide was the spread of the Afghan
Christine Stevens: It was very wide at its peak, in fact quite quickly Thomas Elder had a camel stud in
the north of South Australia which was highly successful, and his cameleers and his camel string serviced across into the New
South Wales mining centres and further north to Central Australia. But at one point he decided to move out of the camel business
and he sold quite a few of his camels to his head cameleers, two brothers called Faiz and Taj Mahommed, and the railhead at that
time had moved from Farina which was close to Beltana Station, Thomas Elderís station, further north to Maree, and the two
brothers took camels that they purchased from Thomas Elder up to the railhead, which is the furthermost point, and then serviced
the pastoralist and mining industries from there. So that became the earliest and the most enduring Ghan town in the whole of
But from Maree, camels and cameleers spread out, they spread then to Western Australia to the Western
Australian goldfields, Coolgardie, then later north into the Kimberley; they spread from there across into New South Wales
towards Bourke, and then they spread into north-west Queensland towards Cloncurry and then later into Central Australia around
Alice Springs. So they serviced the whole interior over a 50-year period, from about the 1860s to about 1910, í20
Rachael Kohn: Now the Afghans of course were Muslims and they would have been the first Muslims in
Australia in any considerable number. That would have meant they had to establish their traditions here and build mosques. Are
there many left on the landscape?
Christine Stevens: Yes, there are a few little galvanised iron mosques. The first
mosques that were built were built in the same manner as mosques that were built in rural Afghanistan, bough and thatched roofed
structures, and you can find this same structure in the desert in the rural parts of Afghanistan up until recently; I donít know
whatís happening now with the problems in Afghanistan. But then as Afghans began to carry sheets of galvanised iron which was a
common and inexpensive building material for the stations that they were taking cartage, they soon began to use this material to
build both their Ghan town houses and also their mosques.
Rachael Kohn: One of the most important aspects of Islam
is of course the rituals around eating. Eating meat that is slaughtered according to halal and eating meat that is not prepared
by infidels, or strangers. That would have made living a Muslim life quite difficult for them.
Well yes, it did, particularly in the early days. For example when the explorers were, there were very few Afghans in the
exploration party and food was being supplied by the cook, and at those times they would never eat with infidels of course and
they would also go and kill their own meat, which they would kill halal style. They would only eat this food because of their
Rachael Kohn: Now of course the Afghans came here alone, without women; who were destined to become
their wives in Australia?
Christine Stevens: Well they were single men, or they were sometimes married men, but
they didnít bring women with them, it was not part of the contractual arrangement, and I think at the time with the racial and
religious intolerance within the country, they wouldnít have been permitted to bring women with them. They came with the idea
that they would earn a fortune in this new country and they would take the money back and they would be able to pay a bride price
if they were single men, or they would be able to support their families very comfortably if they were married.
reality was that once in Australia, the money that they were earning, which was in fact lower than the Europeans were charging
for cartage, really didnít go very far, so they were not able to save much money, they barely got by on a rather poor lifestyle.
And so the reality was many didnít return to Afghanistan and buy themselves wives or provide for their families.
stayed on in the desert here, and in fact they did find wives amongst marginalised women in Australia, and these women were
mainly Aboriginal women who found themselves on the outskirts of these small towns in the outback, marginalised people
themselves, because they had been moved from their own country by occupation, by Europeans, and also women who were deserted
wives, prostitutes, women who had a husband outside of the confines of traditional spheres of society.
Kohn: The film Serenades depicts quite a tense relationship between the Afghans and the Christians, and I wonder
whether in the history of their being here in that period, were there any really violent stoushes between Afghans and the
Christine Stevens: The violent stoushes were mainly over contracts, because the Afghan cameleers
were carting consignment at much cheaper rates than the horse and bullock teamsters, and this caused a lot of conflict between
the two cultures. Some of that was violent, some of it was resulted in murder.
Rachael Kohn: Well if there was
conflict between the Afghans and the teamsters, what sort of relationship was there between them and the missionaries? Because
the film, Serenades certainly shows fierce religious tension there. I mean there was mutual animosity.
Stevens: Interestingly I think at the time there was a lot of, certainly between European cultures there was a lot of
animosity over the wars that were waged between the first Anglo-Afghan war, and the second Anglo-Afghan war which were very much
in the memory of people at the time, and also the Indian Mutiny, and these were very vicious conflicts outside of Australia, and
some men who had fought in the army had in fact emigrated to Australia from these particular wars, so there was that kind of
Rachael Kohn: So the Afghans actually had fought against the British.
Yes, in two major wars in Afghanistan, in 1840 and then again in, I think, about the 1870s, and these were very vicious wars, and
in fact they won these wars, they actually managed to toss the British out of Afghanistan. The British never occupied Afghanistan
even though they tried. Of course that was a sore point for the Empire, and also the fact that the manner in which the Afghans
fought was rather pervert and also very vicious.
Also the Indian Mutiny of 1857 in the north of India was still in the
memory of people, and that provided a lot of ground for racial and religious intolerance in Australia. But amongst the Lutherans
themselves, the Lutherans were quite xenophobic, in fact they were very much against the British settlers outside as well as
Afghans, you know, they saw them all as interfering in their process of conversion of the Aborigines on the mission station. And
also as sources of seduction for Aboriginal women, I guess they were very much against.
Rachael Kohn: The kind of
religious conflict and tension is really at the centre of the film Serenades, and I wondered whether that is an issue that
interests you in particular.
Christine Stevens: Yes it does interest me in particular; I think I wrote both Tin
Mosques and White Manís Dreaming with the intention of quietly and covertly trying to uncover a basic unity of all
humanity within these cultures, and I think that the intention of the film was also to strip away the cultural clothing and
somehow reach in to the university seed thatís within everybody. And Jila was used as a symbol, as a tool, to take that journey
through these cultures and to arrive back at a place which was right back inside herself, to express her own special essence,
which is common to all.
Rachael Kohn: Christine Stevens, thank you for being on The Spirit of
Christine Stevens: Thank you.
Rachael Kohn: Historian Christine Stevens is
author of White Manís Dreaming and Tin Mosques and Ghantowns, and is the author of the story, Serenades,
which is now a major film released in Australia, starring Alice Haines and Aden Young.
The music in todayís program was
from the soundtrack of the movie, and was composed by Davood Tabrizi.
The Spirit of Things is produced by me and Geoff
Wood, with technical production by Angus Kingston.
Next week, the central Christian symbol of faith, the Eucharist. Is it
just another ritual that excludes some Christians, or is it the indispensable essence of the Christian message?
so long from me, Rachael Kohn.
Guests on this program:
is an Australian writer and director. She was born in Iran but escaped her homeland at the age of ten when her mother was in
danger of execution by Islamic authorities.
is an historian and writer. Her books have charted the lives the Afghan cameleers and Lutheran missionaries in Central
White Man's Dreaming: Killalpaninna Mission 1866-1915
Author: Christine Stevens
Publisher: Oxford University press, 1994
Tin Mosques and Ghantowns: A History of Afghan Cameldrivers in Australia
Author: Christine Stevens
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 1989
CD Title: Serenades: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Artist: Davood A. Tabrizi
Label/CD No: Move MD 3237
Copyright: Move Records
Presenter & Executive Producer:
The Spirit of Things is broadcast on Sundays at 6.10pm, repeated on Thursdays at 7.10pm and Fridays at 4.05am, on Radio
National, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's national radio network of ideas.
©Copyright 2001, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
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