Kamahl recounts his personal memories of his life and career in Australia

Uploaded by ImmiTV on 08.09.2009

I came to Adelaide the winter of
1953, via Perth, but before that
I came on a steamship. It was
very cold. I knew it would be cold but I didn't
expect to be that cold. The food was so
different and you wouldn't believe what I survived on...
You had to believe that raw eggs were good for you. So
can you believe for the first two or three years I lived on a diet of
raw eggs, cakes, and milk. Initially the
most difficult thing was the cultural change. You know,
that sudenly I felt extremely conspicuous.
And I was bassicaly very shy,
and insecure. I still can't believe to this day that I had
the nerve to stand up and sing. The idea
of entertaining came out of sheer
desperation, wanting to connect with people. I
must tell you that the Australian people were irrationally generous
to me. The number of individuals who opened their hearts and their
homes, were unbelieveable. I am eternally grateful
for the kindness that people have shown
and my debt to this country will never be repaid, in
any shape or form but I try. I was summoned to the
Immigration office in June of 1966.
When I was told this very kind lady said to me that I can
have a permanent residence status, I ran to the nearest
telephone and called the Crown Street women's hospital and spoke to a
lady called Sahodra Tikaram. And I said to her what are you gonna do for the
rest of the life, she said why? I said do you want to get married, she said when? I said what about next
week? So we were literally married the following week. And
the following year, 1967 I became an Australian
citizen, and it is singularly the
... a very proud moment. I can't imagine anyone
not wanting to be a citizen of this country.
You know, to me it's a million dollar luxury
ticket. Money can't buy that.
Anybody who's been here, whose elligible to become a citizen
have no excuse but to become an Australian citizen.
Even though I've been around the world, I think
this is home. The question I've been asking myself ever since
9th of March 1967, is
how lucky am I, and what does this country mean to me?
And the answer I came up with that
... at that time is simply this...
to begin at the beginning is the house I live in, my neighbours down the street,
proud and smiling faces of the people that I meet. The children
in the playground, and Christmas in the sun, the G'day
and the handshake, that's Australia to me. The town I live in,
the friends that I have found, the people who just came here
from nationa all around. Those who
built this country, the air of feeling free, and the right to
speak your own mind, that's Australia to me. Words
of Banjo Patterson, Mackellar, and Henry Lawson. The
style of Donald Bradman, De Costella, and Dame Joan,
Dave Smithy, and Ben Lexon, achievers without peers,
and the dreaming of a people who've
been here a million years. This land I live in.
The goodness everywehre, a place of wealth, and beauty
with enough for all to share. Yes,
I love the sunburnt country. So vital, young
and free. With a promise for tomorrow, that Australian
to me. But it's the people
yes, especially the people
that's Australia to me.