In the days after his death, those touched by Archie Roach open up about the legacy he leaves behind – Michmutters

In the days after his death, those touched by Archie Roach open up about the legacy he leaves behind

From the top of Arnhem Land, where musicians take inspiration from his timeless words, to the streets of Melbourne’s Fitzroy, where fans leave floral tributes on the steps of Charcoal Lane, there seems no place in the country that has not been touched by Archie Roach .

His sons, Amos and Eban, said Archie died surrounded by his family and loved ones at Warrnambool Base Hospital in Victoria.

Archie’s family has given permission for his name, image and music to be used.

However, the love felt for Archie extends far beyond that hospital ward, far beyond state lines and color lines to every corner of the land we call Australia.

Archie leaves behind a legacy of tireless work towards reconciliation and a new generation inspired to carry on his message of healing into the future.

As Australia comes to terms with the loss of one of it’s greatest storytellers, those who were touched by Archie are opening up on what he meant to them.

Flowers wrapped in paperbark outside a yellow door, with a tribute to Archie Roach poster behind.
Tributes were laid outside the Charcoal Lane Aboriginal social enterprise in Melbourne, which shares its name with the singer’s first album.(ABC News: Barrie Pullen)

‘He kept struggling, he kept fighting, he kept believing’

Goanna frontman Shane Howard, a longtime friend of both Archie and his wife, Ruby Hunter, was emotional at the death of a man he considered a brother.

It’s very raw. It’s very real. It’s a lot to lose, but I think Ruby might be calling him home,” Howard said.

The pair toured Australia, the United Kingdom and Ireland together with the Black Arm Band and saw each other just days before Archie’s death.

Archie Roach and Shane Howard.
Archie Roach and Shane Howard toured the world together as part of the Black Arm Band musical theater group.(Facebook: Shane Howard—Goanna)

Remembering his friend as a “deeply cultural being”, Howard says Australians mourning Archie’s passing should continue the reconciliatory work the Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung) singer strove towards for much of his life.

“His ability to keep forgiveness at the front — after all that had happened to him and all that has happened to First Nations people here in this country — his capacity to keep believing that we could reconcile this nation, that we could become a just and fair nation,” he said.

It comes as discussion swirls around the enshrining of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, an issue Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has pledged to settle as soon as possible.

“Archie’s passing reminds us that we must redouble efforts, and the greatest way we can honor him is to honor those things,” Howard said.

“There is still so much wrong and Archie knew that, but he kept struggling, he kept fighting, he kept believing.”

‘He took the words we could not speak’

Beyond his legacy as one of Australia’s most-acclaimed songwriters, Archie’s passing carries a special meaning for the Stolen Generations.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *