I’m Benson Igua Saulo. While I live in Melbourne, I am a descendant of the Wemba Wemba and Gunditjmara Aboriginal nations of Western Victoria, and the New Ireland Province of Papua New Guinea. In 2021, my family and I will be relocating to Houston, Texas as I have been appointed a Consul-General to the US, the first Indigenous person to hold this position anywhere in the world.
In 2015 I wrote a piece called “Why I am excited to have a daughter” in which the first line contained a disclaimer for my mother stating that I didn’t have children on the way. I knew the title alone would elicit excited text messages about her availability to be a live-in nanny. The piece reflected on issues impacting the world around us, from conflicts to climate change, and the fear of bringing a child into such uncertainty. It also explored how society doesn’t truly value the lives of women and girls — touching on rates of violence against women and levels of income inequality — leading to numerous sleepless nights in which I felt overwhelmed by the realities that my future daughter could be born into.
Anais Ramo Saulo was born on December 9 2019. She joins a generation known as the “Iso-Gen” — babies who were born or spent a majority of their first few months in isolation. It is difficult to imagine a future in which she will be turning 20, given that I’m still coming to terms with the pace of the past eight months. But as I try to cast my mind forward to a world she will inherit, my thoughts get snagged on a line that has always stayed in the back of my mind: “Live your ancestors’ wildest dreams.”
The future that I want for my daughter is connected in our family’s past and infused with faith, hope and love which will sustain her as she steps out into the world. It is a future captured in a simple message: “To my daughter, you are the embodiment and continuation of two strong cultures. You carry a name that connects you to your land both near and far. Walk with courage and face the unknown with faith. Challenge injustice and break through barriers. Everything is within you. Breath. Connect. Dream.”
My message would end with the words her Grandfather once told me: “Never think the world is not yours.” As I write these words and imagine saying them to my daughter, deep down I feel a sense of unease. What if the future Anais inherits turns my message into empty words? Nevertheless, I am a strong believer that the future is created by the decisions we make today. So, it is up to us to create a world that truly values and shares Indigenous cultures and connections, builds resilience and courage in all of our communities, and creates a more equal and just society. Because ultimately, Anais is all our daughters, our sisters and our mothers — and they should never think that the world is not theirs.