Macleay Island artist, singer and song-writer Joe Geia is all about fair and reasonable reconciliation.
He has a lovely ambience with a ’live and let live’ outlook that is reflected in his song writing and in his artwork.
He writes songs of his country using ancient words and tales; putting them to chords on his guitar and singing them far and wide.
Recently we got to hear some of them when Joe was invited to sing of country at the flag raising ceremony for the Macleay Island Renegades men’s shed in Sandpiper Street.
It was then that Joe sang his version of Advance Australia Fair.
He explained rather than want to change and replace Australia’s National Anthem, he wanted to embrace and embellish it.
“I am for everyone getting along with everyone else and keeping it simple,” Joe told The Friendly Bay Islander.
Joe sings the second verse of Advance Australia Fair in English, and then in the Yilananji language, incorporating the words to Yil-Lull (which means sing) as part of a second verse. He says it is a dedicating to the Aboriginal flag.
He says he does not include the first verse of the National Anthem because of the controversial section ‘We are Young and Free’.
(We reckon that could be fixed by changing it to ‘We are Strong and Free’, but anyway!)
The Yilananji language is Joe’s native tongue and hails from North Queensland in the Cooktown area.
Another of his songs is Gurringndindinarmi, a delightful effort in the Gabi Gabi and Waka Waka Language.
The aboriginal element to Advance Australia Fair definitely makes a difference..
Hearing it for the first time, we thought it offered great possibilities about bringing Australians together, particularly at a time when the date for Australia Day has been recently debated in some quarters.
“The way I see it, it should be about all Australians being together as one,” Joe added.
Joe’s concept for the National Anthem is a good one.
It follows with what occurs with the National Anthems of New Zealand and South Africa - both great anthems.
They both start in traditional Maori and African dialects and then change to English, encompassing all elements of their societies.
Both are extremely popular with all their countrymen.
Joe’s version of the National Anthem needs to be heard by some of our politicians and the public generally to see what they think?
Perhaps it might one day become Australia’s official Anthem, and a major step forward in reconciliation.
• Joe Geia and his guitar at the Macleay Island flag raising event.