Compare and Contrast the radio documentaries Sweet Sorrow and Island Footprints. What are their strengths and limitations as historical accounts?
The radio documentaries presented by the ABC’s Hindsight program include Island Footprints, about the “Kanakas” or South Sea Islanders used for labour in Queensland, and Sweet Sorrow, about the Indo-Fijians and “Garmit” where Indians were brought to Fiji by the British, similarly for indentured labour. Island Footprints was produced to document the history and struggle of the South Sea Islanders in Queensland, and record the testimony and stories of the descendants of those who were brought to Australia for the sugarcane industry. Similarly, Sweet Sorrow was created to record the stories and to educate the listeners of the documentary on the history of the Indo-Fijians. Both radio documentaries were recorded with the purpose of education to the listener of the ABC program, Hindsight, and as a method of ensuring the stories and accounts do not get lost with time.
The style of both documentaries is very similar as they are radio recordings made for the same radio show. Island Footprints is hosted by Reverend Les Muckin and the interviewer is Carol Corowa, of whom both are descended from South Sea Islanders. The documentary contains elements from a number of interviews of other descendents, and includes speech from Tom Johnson, a “Kanakas” still working in the Bundaberg sugar industry. There is also a great use of music and sound from the South Sea Islanders, including traditional island songs performed by John Aspara. These serve to emotively connect the listener with the island people and take their thoughts away to the island world from where they came from. We also hear the re-enacted words of several contemporary figures including Sir Alfred Deakin and Sir Edmund Barton. In the same way, Sweet Sorrow contains many similar style devices, and is narrated and hosted by Lynn Gallagher, as well as Jay Kamar and...
Bibliography: ABC Social History and Features Team. Island Footprints, ABC Hindsight radio documentary, 17/10/2004
Merani, Kumad (producer). Sweet Sorrow, ABC Hindsight radio documentary, 24/10/2004.
Moore, Clive. ‘Kanakas, Kidnapping and slavery: Myths from the eighteenth century labour Trade’, Kabar Serang, No. 8-9, 1981, pp. 78-92.
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