DR RUBY LANGFORD GINIBI, Bundjalung woman, born 26th January (ironically) 1934 at Box Ridge Mission Coraki, died on 1st october 2011 at 10pm. Her youngest son Jeff was present with her as she went to her Dreaming.
Ruby Langford Ginibi (born 26 January 1934) is a Bundjalung woman, an acclaimed author and historian.
At 15, she moved to Sydney where she qualified as a clothing machinist. She married young and had nine children, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Like many women writers, she didn't start her writing career until later in life.
Her best known book is her autobiographical work, Don't Take Your Love to Town, published in 1988, which won the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Human Rights Award for Literature.
She received an inaugural History Fellowship from the NSW Ministry for the Arts in 1994, an inaugural honorary fellowship from the National Museum of Australia, Canberra, in 1995, and an inaugural doctorate of letters (Honors Causia) from La Trobe University, Victoria in 1998, and a Doctorate of Letters (Honors Causia) from Southern Cross University, Northern Rivers.
In 2005 she was awarded the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards Special Award. She is a historian and lecturer on Aboriginal history, culture and politics. Her works are studied in Australian high schools and universities.
She recently won the 2006 Australia Council for the Arts Writers' Emeritus Award.
Dr Ginibi received the award, and prize of up to $50,000, at a ceremony during the Sydney Writers' Festival. The award recognises the achievements of writers over the age of 65.
In 2008, Dr Ginibi was a Don't DIS my ABILITY ambassador.
Dr Ginibi has written non-fiction books, essays, poems and short stories.
- Don't Take Your Love to Town, (Penguin, 1988)ISBN 9780702235955
- Real Deadly, (Angus & Robertson, 1992)
- My Bundjalung People, (UQP, 1994)
- Haunted by the Past, (Allen & Unwin, 1999)
- All My Mob, (UQP, 2007) ISBN 9780702235962
- A Journey into Bundjalung Country, with Pam Johnston
- Ruby Langford Ginibi, co-authored with John Barnes and Blanca Fullana
Ruby, although enjoying the awards, always said that she never did anything for the accolades and was always nervous of them as her experience of life told her that there was always a 'backhand', a fall, if one got too above oneself. Her delight in achievement was always measured by her humbleness in the face of what others did not have, not what she had. Her joy and generosity was notorious and she was loved for her ability to communicate, laugh, and simply give a hug. Her humanity was all encompassing and amazing considering the pain and loss that walked side by side with her throughout her life. The loss of three of her children, was an ongoing source of both heartbreak and compassion in her life.
Ruby says that a great source of her pride and happiness comes from having her children around her. She raised nine children as a single mother without support from the children's fathers and in poor and insubstantial living conditions. She speaks candidly of her experiences with men and the prejudice she felt was directed to her as a single mother.
As a child, she had a fairly disconnected family life. Her mother left when she was just six-years-old and her father had to work in other towns and the country to provide for his children. She grew up with family friends in different towns on the north coast of New South Wales.
Sometimes you don't know what you've lost until it's gone. What will we all do without Ruby?
A great source of anger and activity for Ruby was the rate of incarcerated Indigenous people in Australia. "We're not quite two per cent of the total population of Australia, yet we're the most incarcerated people in Her Majesty's gaols in this country." Within her own family incarceration was an ongoing and traumatic experience and she recognised that incarceration itself would define the future of Indigenous people unless the rates and causes were confronted in an honest way. Her anger and despair and any inequality was tempered by her humanity and ability to laugh. "Laugh", she always said, "because if you don't laugh you'll cry". Ruby's infectious laugh, her honesty, her generosity, compassion and love, are not only a great loss to her immediate family, which is extensive, but to the Australian nation as a whole.
ASAL responds in these words:
It is with great sadness that ASAL acknowledges the death of Bundjalung elder and acclaimed writer and historian Dr Ruby Langford Ginibi. Ruby died on October 1. Her loss will be keenly felt by many. We are grateful for the stories and memories she has left us.
CALL FOR GENEROSITY:
Funeral costs of Ruby Langford Ginibi
I returned late last night from the funeral of our beautiful friend who inspired us all so much. As you may have heard, her condition became serious during a period of 8-9 hours last Sunday night. She had been quite her usual self a couple of days before when I spoke to her before leaving for a conference in KL. In fact, she was looking forward to my bringing her back a dictaphone on my return so she could keep writing. She told me that she had written 10 stories by hand while at the nursing home.
The conditions following her death were very distressing as there was considerable conflict among her family members. Auntie Ruby had $7,800 in her funeral fund and the family were seeking an additional $13,200 so that she could be buried in her own plot. It was imperative that the funeral take place on Wednesday because Thursday and Friday were the birthdays of two of her children and they didn't want her to be buried on their birthdays.
I wanted Auntie Ruby to be buried with dignity and the only way I could achieve this was to guarantee the cost of her funeral myself. I feel I had no other choice. My partner, Mahinda, and I have taken out a redraw on our mortgage in order to fund the funeral.
Joseph Pugliese, Linda Westphalen and I have been lobbying federal and state government authorities to help with the expenses as Auntie Ruby was a national figure and in our view deserved a state funeral. The response so far hasn't been encouraging, but we will keep trying.
I call on academics and students of Auntie Ruby's writing to contribute financially to the cost of her funeral. Considering how much she gave us all, this is a chance to give something back.
Please feel free to forward this message to colleagues and institutions who may be willing to help.
School of Media, Culture & Creative Arts
GPO Box U1987,
Perth, WA 6845.