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Mabo home
...unlocks the sea...
Senior Meriam today say it was Malo who brought together the Meriam people in a collective rite sharing the first turtle for the season at a special ceremonial ground. In this 'coming together' ceremony everyone must have a taste of the turtle. This feast follows the spearing of the first turtle to arrive in the shallows or to be taken on the beach. This event occurs during the time of turtle scarcity as early as May: it is a rite performed so more turtles will come in the turtle season. It brings all the Meriam people together in a display of 'national' unity. It is a rite which changed its location to the foot of the Cross (but which also strengthened after the coming of Christianity). The octopus brought the eight clans together. Christianity made the clans more friendly to one another, strengthening the culture of sharing.

'First turtle sharing is the centre of sharing. It was held at the dwelling place of Malo. Today it is still the same, but at a new religious site. It unlocks the sea and it makes people more friendly.

When I caught this first turtle it made me feel great to share it with people. You are proud of yourself to see others eating something that comes from your ability as a hunter. You've proved yourself as a hunter. Qualified now just like your father before you. Makes you feel proud. That's the way. Got that turtle and you share it. Many old people will say that to you.'
Keywords: ceremony, Christianity, clans, Kaddy, George, Malo, meriam calendar, turtles

Author: Sharp, Nonie
Source: George Kaddy