Over several months, the Meigim Kriol Strongbala program has been visiting Ngukurr’s Families as First Teachers (FaFT) playgroup to help mothers and workers translate a popular children’s book into Kriol. The chosen story was The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland which tells a fun story of four animals who disturb and annoy a bear until one of them figures out how to improve its mood.
The translation task was lengthy and complicated and for most of the participants a new experience. Nor was it easy, with a number of unfamiliar English words such as a moose’s horns being called ‘antlers’ and the ‘gnashing’ of a bear’s teeth. On top of all that, participants often had not a lot of experience with reading Kriol.
Over the course of weekly sessions, the translation took shape and Ngukurr mums and workers became more confident and familiar with the story and with reading Kriol too. It became a natural progression to then turn the story into a roleplay and bring the it to life. When a visit by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and NT Minister for Education Selena Uibo was announced for the final week of Term 3, it was a great opportunity to show off the live action Kriol version of The Very Cranky Bear – now known as Det Brabli Jigibala Beya.
The performance was a hit and a lot of fun and it was great to see the importance of Kriol literacy recognised by Ngukurr FaFT, Ngukurr CEC and the Education Minister. Most importantly, the Ngukurr kids and families enjoyed it too. A big thanks to everyone involved in supporting the project and also the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF). The translation will become part of the ILF’s Book Buzz program, which organises for Indigenous communities to translate and receive versions of popular childrens’ books in first languages.