A tribute to Jakamarra Nelson by Charlie King
It is with deep sadness I share with you the news of the passing of Jakamarra Nelson and to inform you of his significance in relation to NO MORE. He was in his 77th or 82nd year when he passed away back on his own country on 31 January 2021. He was a true inspiration to me and many others and every time I say No More or hear anyone say it I remember this old man.
I had known Jakamarra for a long time, from his days when he was an advisor/interpreter with the CLC but it was in 2006 when I met him on his community as I travelled around the Territory talking to men about men’s issues. It was at a meeting with the men’s group, which included Jakamarra, of about 30 Walpiri men at Yuendumu.
He had helped get the men together and we had spent nearly an hour talking about football. He told us he had played for Wanderers in the early 60s and use to drive up to Darwin to play and then drive back home again. Wanderers 1968/69 Nichols medallist Maurie Japata Ryan recently told me that Jakamarra and Warren Williams did indeed travelled to Darwin on and off for about 6 seasons and were very good players.
I have a very clear recollection of what happened at that meeting in 2006. After talking about football with the group I was keen to get onto the real reason I was visiting Yuendumu which was to talk about pornography, child abuse and family violence. I had learned from past experience to go first with the topic that men would feel less confronted by, which, at the time, was family violence. The discussion moved easily from football to family violence. I explained that family violence was a big problem in our country (Australia) and that women were being abused at the rate of a half a million every year. I told them that that meant one every minute, of every hour, of every day and during a football match of 100 minutes, there would be 100 more victims. The men seemed surprised and there was silence in the room. At that moment Jakamarra stood up and walked towards me. He raised his hand in front of my face and wagged his forefinger and said ‘No More, No More’. I knew what No More meant. It meant get rid of it. I though about it on my way back to Alice Springs and thought it was a powerful statement from Indigenous men about family violence and I knew it would be understood throughout the Territory.
So here we are in 2021 still trying to get rid of it. I’m more confident now then I have ever been because of the good work the No More team is doing and I’m sure this old man would have felt the same. I do want to mention Shaun Cadd who spent time at his bedside comforting and respecting him in his last days.. Meanwhile, I will continue to have discussions with the CLC, the NAIDOC committee and mining companies like Newmont Mining about an annual, national award in his name.
May he Rest in Peace.
Charlie King, OAM, NO MORE Founder