He Speaks Our Language is the biography of Wilfrid Henry Douglas, a veteran linguist and missionary to Aboriginal people in Australia for more than 60 years. Wilf is the father of the author, Rob Douglas. The book is based on memoirs written by Wilf prior to his death in March 2004.
The book traces the journey of Wilf from his childhood in Belfast, Northern Ireland and his transportation to a children’s home, Fairbridge, in rural Western Australia as a 12-year-old, never to see his parents again. Experiences at Fairbridge affected Wilf later in life when he was responsible for closing down Aboriginal childrenâ&euro£s homes at Sunday Island in the far north of Western Australia and at Warburton Ranges in the desert. Exciting stories are told of Wilf and his Aboriginal colleague paddling across dangerous whirlpools in a dinghy in huge tides in the saltwater country in the north of Western Australia, to weeks stranded in the central Australian desert waiting for repairs to a broken down truck.
The biography belongs as much of the many Aboriginal people who contributed to Wilf’s life as it his own story. People like the sinewy Bardi man who accompanied him on his whirlpool nightmare, the fox-hunter who taught Wilf his first Aboriginal word on a dusty road in the West Australian wheatbelt, and the desert man who sat with him for many hours sharing his language and culture. It also includes more well known people such as Ernie Dingo and Albert Namatjira. Wilf contributed significantly to the knowledge of Aboriginal languages across Australia, and to the translation of the Bible into a number of Aboriginal languages. But the story traces the way in which he faced the odds in learning Aboriginal languages when missions didn’t think this was necessary, listening to the stories of Aboriginal people whe
About the Author
Rob Douglas grew up in a missionary home in the Western Australian Goldfields where he became a journalist with the local newspaper. Over a period of 20 years Rob wrote for regional newspapers around the State interviewing such people as Malcolm Fraser, Don Chipp, Christiaan Barnard, John Stott and Hans Tholstrup. Simultaneously for much of this time Rob was a vocational pastor, spending 15 years in the north west of Western Australia.
For 12 years Rob was a community services manager in the areas of domestic violence, mental health, disability and counselling. He is currently senior pastor of the Maida Vale Baptist Church in Perth. Rob is an active blogger and can be found at http://robdouglasblog.wordpress.com/. In 2000 Rob was the national winner of Heritage Rave, a national writing competition run by the Australian Heritage Commission