Catherine Hamlin

In a letter to the Canberra Times on 30 April 2020 the Reverend Robert  Willson of Deakin, in a piece entitled ‘A life well lived’, noted while that the present pandemic had rightly dominated the news, the death of Dr Catherine Hamlin should not go unnoticed

Catherine was born in Sydney in 1924 and in 1958 she and her husband Dr Reg Hamlin went to Ethiopia to set up a school of midwifery in Addis Ababa. More than 60,000 Ethiopian women suffering with obstetric fistulas have received surgery at the  Hamlin Fistula Hospitals 

Over several decades the Australian government and AUSAID supported the  Fistula Hospital ( see for example )

Here are extracts from the Official Obituary from Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (see )

‘The world is mourning the death of Australia’s most renowned obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Catherine Hamlin AC, who died, age 96 at her home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Wednesday March 18th, 2020.

‘Catherine, together with her late husband Dr Reginald Hamlin OBE, co-founded Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, a healthcare network treating women who suffer from the debilitating effects of an obstetric fistula – a horrific childbirth injury.’

Her husband Reg died in 1993.

‘She was much-admired for her work in Australia and globally. She was twice nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, has been recognised by the United Nations as a pioneer in fistula surgery, in 1995 Catherine was awarded Australia’s highest honour – the Companion of the Order of Australia, in 2018 she was named NSW Senior Australian of the Year. In 2012, the Ethiopian Government awarded Catherine Honorary Ethiopian Citizenship and in 2019 the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed presented her with Eminent Citizen Award in recognition of her lifetime of service to the women of Ethiopia.’

In 2020 Catherine celebrated her 61st year in Ethiopia, having lived most of her life there. 





Nigerian art at the NGA

The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra purchased six Bini/Edo items and one ‘Bronze had in the Udo style’  in 1973, some with interesting provenance.
Some of these used to be on display but are probably in store. At the time writing (April 2020) of this is irrelevant because the NGA is closed because of COVID-19.

One of the best items (with photos online) is
‘Bini or Edo people, Royal Court of Benin
Northern Niger Delta, Kingdom of Benin’
Portuguese soldier, firing a gun mid-18th century 

Asking NGA staff about a ‘Benin bronze’ will not help.

ANU Law: Dahl and Ochan

African activities at ANU are often understated. Here are two examples.


The quote below describes the experience of ANU alumnus Marcus Dahl (BSc/LLB (Hons) ’18).


‘Marcus recently concluded a six-month placement as a foreign law clerk at the Constitutional Court of South Africa. He described the country’s Constitution and Bill of Rights, forged amid the challenging transformation from the injustices of the colonial and Apartheid eras, as “some of the most progressive and aspirational such documents in the world”.

“It was a privilege and honour to be welcomed into South Africa’s highest court as a foreign clerk, and my diverse friends and colleagues in this country taught me much about the role of law and rights in society. South Africa is a beautiful and complex country, and I am very grateful for (ANU College of Law Dean) Professor Sally Wheeler having mentioned to me the opportunity to apply at a time when I was only writing applications to Australian courts.

“Australia and its legal system have a lot to learn by looking to legal systems overseas, which have tried things differently, and this particularly seems to be the case in the fields of human rights law, immigration law, administrative law and Indigenous affairs.

“South Africa and Australia have much more in common than one would assume, and I’m very glad that I ignored the advice of those who said I should never risk moving to Johannesburg, which I’ve found is one of the most amazing cities in the world,” he said


Prisca Ochan is a Uganda-born law student. Identifying as an African Australian she was President of ANUASA in 2019.

Prisca reports that she
‘was recently recognised as an Inspiring Woman at ANU Law who is “reshaping the world” this International Women’s Day. In my interview I detail the importance of particularly acknowledging the varied experiences of women and how our intersecting identities can shape our experiences. I also talk about my hope for a more diverse legal profession in the future, one in which there are more faces like mine, among other things. ‘


Lions of Khartoum: Sudan’s Wrestlers After a Revolution

Lions of Khartoum (29 minutes / Sudan / English subtitles) explores the role of Khartoum’s iconic wrestlers in the Sudanese revolution of 2019, through the voice of Mudawi, a childhood wrestler-turned-wrestling commentator. Until the 2019 Sudanese revolution, Khartoum’s local wrestling organisation was run by Islamist party acolytes (kīzān), who were more focused on making money from ticket sales than training the athletes or promoting the sport. During the horrific June 2019 massacre in Khartoum, one of the wrestlers was murdered by the Janjaweed, the former regime’s paramilitary forces. His face now adorns the wrestling stadium formerly controlled by the kīzān. Against the extraordinary backdrop of revolutionary change, however, the film shows us that the ordinary mundanity of life continues for Khartoum’s wrestlers. The film builds on the filmmakers’ 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork, living and training with Khartoum’s wrestling community prior to and during the Sudanese revolution.



Paul Hayes is completing a PhD in anthropology at The Australian National University and has been an Associate Researcher at Centre d’études et de documentation économiques, juridiques et sociales (CEDEJ) in Khartoum since 2018. He completed 12 months of ethnographic research, living and training among Khartoum’s wrestling community, in the midst of the Sudanese revolution.

Mudawi Hassan is a commentator at Khartoum’s East Nile wrestling stadium, and has worked for numerous international researchers and filmmakers, in Khartoum and Darfur. In 2018, he graduated from Omdurman Islamic University with honours in communication and television. He participated in almost every major protest event in Khartoum during the revolution.


This was a collaborative project between me, an Australian PhD student of anthropology, and Mudawi, a Sudanese wrestling enthusiast and community leader from Khartoum. The film, which focuses on Mudawi’s reflections after the revolution, will form part of my broader PhD thesis which explores the embodied material culture of Sudanese wrestling. For that, I spent over 12 months training and socialising with the East Nile wrestling community, while also living with Mudawi’s family. Unexpectedly, the fieldwork took place in the lead-up to, and during the start of the Sudanese revolution, which led to the army overthrowing President Omar Al Bashir in April 2019, after months of street protests. The footage for this film was shot only in December 2019, during a return visit to Mudawi’s family, precisely one year after the revolution began. The film tries to convey only a tiny taste of the lives of its interlocutors and their involvement in the revolution. It is a partial, tentative story, and one which I think raises more questions than it answers.
Paul Hayes, Canberra, March 2020