Banjo Clarke was an elder of the Kirrae Whurrong, a people of the Gunditjmara nation, and was a direct descendant of Queen Truganini. He was born in 1922 near Warrnambool, and by the time he passed away in March 2000 he was known and loved by thousands for his wisdom and compassion.
Wisdom Man covers Banjo’s life from his childhood on a mission, through the grim years of the Depression, his solo travels in search of work, the birth of his eleven children, and his embrace of the Baha’i faith, which he found very close to Aboriginal spirituality. His story is one of remarkable forbearance during terrible encounters with racism, cruelty and the loss of loved ones, and is made all the more extraordinary by his lack of bitterness and anger. Wisdom Man also distils the essence of Aboriginal culture: Banjo constantly points to those aspects which he sees as relevant to all humanity, particularly in terms of our relationship with the land. Banjo Clarke embodied the spirit of reconciliation in its most generous and forgiving form, espousing and living it long before it was given a name, long before it became fashionable.
Includes a foreword by former prime minister Malcolm Fraser, who knew Banjo, and tributes by Archie Roach, Martin Flanagan, Judith Durham, among others – a sample of the wide range of people whose lives he touched. Countless people from all over the world came to Warrnambool to seek him out, and his door was always open to the homeless and the troubled.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||18 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Camilla Chance was born in Reading, England and came to Australia in 1946. She has worked as an editor at Faber and Faber, an English teacher and a book reviewer, and now lives in Warrnambool. She became a close friend of Banjo Clarke after first meeting him in 1975. At his request she began interviewing him soon after, continuing until his death some twenty-five years later. Banjo Clarke was convinced that traditional Aboriginal values could help the world counter greed, conceit, and lack of human caring, and he wanted his story recorded in his own words by someone he trusted outside his family.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reading the "compassionate life and beliefs of a remarkable Aboriginal Elder" like Banjo Clarke was a true eye opener and an honour to delve into. Somehow, you feel that Banjo Clarke is one of those 'wise teachers' who walk the earth at different times in human history, calling us to our true purpose and to our true selves. A mortal man nonetheless, a spiritual wise man of the Kirrae Whurrong tribe of Australia who battled hunger and racism in the Depression, who worked as a boxer and built roads amid the bombs of WWII, among many other things in order to survive, and who fought against his own demon, alcoholism, who witnessed many tragedies within his own family and among his people - despite these many difficulties, his deep and proud Aboriginal roots, attachment to the land and beautiful spirituality, strengthened by his Baha'i beliefs, safeguarded his pure heart and his tremendous capacity for love. Camilla Chance records Banjo Clarke's memories, profound teachings and great hope for the future with reverence and deep respect, unfolding a fascinating account of this committed environmentalist and authentic humanitarian whose life touched so many from all walks of life and all races. Banjo Clarke's spiritual nature is so advanced it makes me think that if we only use only 15% of our brainpower, we use even less of our spiritual power - that power borne of pure love that is so sorely needed to bring about a safe and thriving world. This book is riveting and sometimes too heartbreaking to read, but has so much to teach us, particularly here in the Western world. Banjo Clarke is someone who dares us to bring the sacred into our lives, something that we all carry within us but all too often ignore. In a world where we desecrate and plunder the earth with thoughtless and greedy abandon, where religion divides people rather than unites them as it is meant to do, and where universal compassion and empathy take second and even third place to a materialist world culture, Banjo's message is all the more urgent and important for us to hear today. I recommend this very moving and fascinating book wholeheartedly!
Camilla Chance first met Aboriginal people in 1975 after coming to Warrnambool, Victoria in Southern Australia. The Aboriginal population there was high, but they were good at disappearing. Though she was from the other end of the social spectrum, and could more easily have been among their adversaries, she became a friend, got jobs for them, bailed them out of jail and did everything she could to become an ally. She was accepted as Aboriginal in spirit. This began a 27-year period of writing down their philosophy, as expressed by the head of that family, Banjo Clarke, and eventually led to the book "Wisdom Man" by Banjo Clarke as told to Camilla Chance. Camilla received no money for the published work, but rather busied herself by traveling the world and disseminating Banjo's ideas, because she saw firsthand that indigenous people who are true to their old laws are, in many ways, living the closest to how we all need to live now for our planet to survive. What she found was that deeds done from the whole heart, from pure motives, are shortly going to be the only truly effective things on earth. And she agreed with Banjo that no bad people exist-only unhappy ones. Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth" briefly mentions that people without ego, the meek, will inherit the earth. Well, Camilla saw that Aboriginal people, who are uncorrupted by the excesses of over-civilization, are without ego. They do nothing until they are sure the spiritual world wants them to do it. Everything is done for the tribe, humankind and nature. She said they have a deep core of love she could feel in their presence. They knew things before the people of European descent did around them, and would leave an area before problems like a devastating earthquake. Banjo Clarke taught sharing as a most basic Aboriginal law. No matter how hungry he or she is, an Aboriginal will never eat in front of another person or even an animal without attempting to share everything with it. There is also a deep sense of unity that causes extra-sensory perception-they always know, for example, even over a long distance, whether misfortune has befallen a friend. Traditionally, they do not bear grudges. Their sense that the spiritual world and their ancestors are all around them gives them basic confidence and happiness, and they strongly pity anyone who has cut himself or herself off from such awareness. They see this cutting off as the basic cause of all human troubles. They see human beings as of first importance and material gain as of no importance. When hunting or foraging for food they never take more than they need, and do everything they can in a lot of different ways to help species grow strong. They are never clock watchers when working, but believe that always doing your best, working chiefly when you have inspiration, finishing the job as soon as possible after you have started it, working with your mood, and not against it, and relaxing totally and taking a complete break when that feels right would help put fresh impetus into a tired world. In 2005, 500 Aboriginals gathered from all over Australia to present Camilla Chance with their "Unsung Hero" award-a honor that was to be presented, except on very rare occasions, to an Aboriginal person who had worked behind the scenes, without pushing him or herself forward, for the betterment of Aboriginals. Though Banjo Clarke died in 2000, his wisdom may be our map.
Author, Camilla Chance, has written an inspirational book about an Aboriginal elder, Banjo Clarke. I read the book in one sitting. Banjo is a hero of our time and we defintely need some heroes. Sherri Rosen Publicity LLC, NYC