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Mabo home
White beliefs were not the only ones
'My people would come and talk to my dad about land disputes and land ownership, who is to marry who, and all that kind of thing. And I learnt quite a bit. I attended my first initiation, to defuse my belief in spirits. It was done by my dad. He took me through a whole lot of things to try and make me realise that white beliefs were not the only ones. We also had value in ours as well; for instance, the secrets of yam plantations and banana growing. He took me into a series of those things; for instance, during planting season my dad and I would sleep by ourselves either out in the open or in a house, where there were no women, where Mum or my sister didn't come in during the day or weren't around. And we'd live in that house by ourselves, and he used to talk to me - we went there to sleep. During the day we lived as a family in a big house in the middle of Las. But at night we would retreat and sleep by ourselves. He would sleep on one side of the fire and I would sleep on the other.

My sister or my mother never ever accompanied him to the gardens during the planting season. There was some belief that the women's smell was not a good thing to have round the newly planted gardens. And the other thing was that when he took my mother to the gardens, he was always about thirty, twenty to thirty yards in front of her. It is their belief that they must not sleep with their wives or with a woman during the planting season, because they believed that the yams and bananas and all the other crops will never have a good crop.'
Keywords: gardening, land disputes, land use, Las, Mabo, Benny, Mabo, Edward Koiki, Mabo's Garden, Mer

Loos, Noel and Mabo, Edward Koiki 1996, 'Edward Mabo: His Life and Struggle for Land Rights', University of Queensland Press.
Source: Mabo, Edward Koiki