Yanagai Yanagai by Andrea JamesCopyrighted Work
The area covered by this play is located in Victoria province in south-east Australia. The play was written in 2002 by a Melbourne-based playwright with indigenous Australian roots.
In 1860, the colonial Australian government implemented a strategy of ‘protecting’ Aborigines through segregation and placed Victorian Aborigines in reserves run by Christian missionaries.
Subsequent “Protection Acts” in 1886 and 1910 gave the government further powers, including the right to remove Aboriginal children from their families.
At the time of the play’s publication, Victorian Aborigines had made repeated demands for compensation and numerous attempts to claim back their land, but only a minuscule portion had been returned by the state.
In Kenya, the Maasai Agreements of 1904 and 1911 placed similar draconian limitations on indigenous peoples’ rights, moving them from fertile grazing lands to anthrax-ridden areas that reduced their cattle to quarter of their population (Moving the Maasai: A Colonial Misadventure by Lotte Hughes).
In June 2004 on the 100th anniversary of the 1904 “agreement”, we took to the stage with Yanagai Yanagai in order to stimulate debate about these issues of global concern.