As a part of Arts Gen’s Intergen series, artist and researcher Kim Kruger created the illustrative essay ‘Blak Powered Adventures of a Kanaka Menace’, which shares the life and legacy of her mother Aboriginal and South Sea Islander activist Patricia Corowa. Intergen is a series of artist-led interventions that critically reflect on modes of intergenerational knowledge making and sharing.
This illustrative essay captures Patricia Corowa’s story from growing up in Bowen, Queensland to working for the Aboriginal Advancement League in Melbourne, to contributing to the 1970 Pan African Congress in Atlanta and working for Gough Whitlam during his prime ministership.
Kim Kruger is developing this work into a comic book, aiming to inspire the next generation of South Sea Islanders, working in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sovereignty movements. Displayed on our website is a small snapshot but stay tuned to Arts Gen socials for updates.
Kim is undertaking her PhD researching Black Power at the intersection of Aboriginal and South Sea Islander political organisation and has worked in Professor Gary Foley’s Aboriginal History Archive to increase the representation of women in the collection. In creating this essay Kim Kruger worked with her mother and members of her own family in a community-archiving process to creatively capture Patsy’s legacy AKA the Kanaka Menace.
Kim Kruger is a lecturer and researcher with Moondani Balluk Academic Centre at Victoria University, Australia. She has a background in Aboriginal community development, community radio broadcasting and Indigenous arts management including film, theatre, visual art and festivals. She is a member of the Warrior Woman Lane Public Art working group, Creative Victoria’s First Peoples’ Directions Circle, Australian Dictionary of Biography Oceania working group and 2021 HDR and ECR symposium co-convenor and media and community engagement for the Australian Association of Pacific Studies.
‘At the Aborigines Advancement League after inspirational visits by Papua New Guinean anticolonist Albert Maori Kiki, and Bermudan black power organiser Roosevelt Brown (Pauulu Kamarakafego), the League elected its first black majority committee, a step towards Aboriginal community control … Pauulu invited the League to send a delegation to the black power conference in Atlanta, Georgia, the Pan-African Congress. In August 1970, Bob Maza, Bruce McGuinness, Jack Davis, Sol Bellear and Olive went to Atlanta (Patricia dubbed them the Atlanta 5’) to exchange ideas at the congress’ – excerpt taken from Blak Powered Adventures of a Kanaka Menace
‘Faith Bandler has connections at the Evatt Foundation, the Labor think tank. South Sea Islander Affairs have languished in the Liberal Government years after they shelved the 1976 interdepartmental committee report. Olive helps Faith pull together the Evatt Foundation Report. This led the Hawke government to commission a report from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC). South Sea people organised from all over the country to conduct a census into living conditions of South Sea Islanders. That report led to South Sea Islanders being recognised as a distinct cultural group in Australia. This was the basis for which to lobby for programs that address the disadvantage faced by our people.’ – excerpt taken from Blak Powered Adventures of a Kanaka Menace