What’s Cha Cha Sam’s Postcards From Nanna got to do with Manus Island?

Cha Cha Sam Uke low resThe Cha Cha Sam team is getting ready to set off for two weeks of Postcards From Nanna on tour again. Kids Thrive is producing the Postcards From Nanna library tours as another way to support kids to make a positive change in their local communities. Postcards from Nanna is a joyous and powerful piece of theatre presented in local libraries to inspire conversations and an appreciation, rather than a fear, of personal and cultural differences.

The Postcards From Nanna story of learning to notice and appreciate differences never seems to be out of fashion. Cha Cha Sam has been performing this show in various guises on and off since 2000. Each season has been presented against a backdrop of injustice that has varied in form but not content: Indigenous Australians seeking an apology for the forced removal of their children; asylum seekers seeking human rights; children in detention seeking protection from neglect and abuse whilst under Australian ‘care’; women wearing their cultural garments seeking acknowledgement of cultural rights from politicians on the hunt for an easy vote.

The message of noticing and loving our differences is a perennial message it would seem – which is why Postcards From Nanna continues to be in demand.

And here goes Cha Cha Sam again off to libraries – the very hub of communities where the broadest range of people can join in the celebration of difference and connectedness.

Postcards From Nanna lyrics say:

‘I love the dance of our names and that we’re not all the same.

I love the ways that we’re different.’


‘It’s a big, big world

It’s a big, big thrill

And if we don’t care

No-one ever will.’

And in the story Nanna says:

‘We’re all different. Ruby’s a dog, I’m a person and Pauline’s a parrot. We all like different things. We want to go to different places. But we’re all friends and friends are precious.’

Yes, Postcards From Nanna is one hour of hi-jinx – but with a message of bringing love and insight to our connections with others. And don’t for a minute think we don’t understand what a potent, radical message that is. A message given to our youngest community leaders who might keep asking questions of entrenched, fearful adults.

In Postcards From Nanna, when we laugh at Pauline the Parrot, Ruby Big Dog and Nanna, we are laughing at aspects of ourselves: the racist/hater who is so easily threatened because she doesn’t know who she is; the appropriator of others’ cultures; the well-meaning tourist who tramples over the local culture. And by laughing at ourselves the hidden power of these aspects loses its power over us.

The power of our kids to positively alter the perception of those around them is worth investing in. Kids aren’t born hating. They learn to hate. Or they learn generosity and connective behaviours. And their ability to join together in play (the highest order of intelligence along with humour) can lead grownups to form new connections and views of our world.

We saw this with 7-year old Marissa in the Kids Thrive Songwriting for Social Change program. In building a class song about respecting everyone who comes to and lives in our country Marissa’s offer for a lyric was ‘a person not inside our family, is still part of our world.’ To which Justin added ‘Even the government is still part of our world.’ Two in-your-face lyrics written by young children about migrating to Australia and being fair with everyone.

I hope our Ministers are listening… Because we are all watching to see if they are still part of our world. What would their grandmothers think of what they are allowing to happen to our children?  (And, yes, this is bi-partisan.) What’s that you say? ‘They’ are not our children, those little people on Manus Island? We forget our essence if we promote that. All children are our children.

Cha Cha Sam will spend the next two weeks rolling around the floor pretending to be a Nanna, a dog and a parrot. And every joke she cracks and note she sings is grounded by what this show is doing for little kids is watering the seeds of connective behaviours that will not sacrifice anyone’s needs and rights for personal gain.

Postcards From Nanna is a little moment in time. One that will resonate for a long time in little hearts and minds. Producing Postcards From Nanna is one small stance against being coerced into racism and xenophobia.

We’re laughing with a defiant hope. Are you? A heartfelt life depends on it.

LISTEN to the songs from Postcards From Nanna

VISIT the gigs list to catch the show