An­gela’s con­ti­nen­tal life

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - LOOKING BACK -

A thirst for ed­u­ca­tion, a pas­sion for mu­sic and an im­pe­tus to help oth­ers less for­tu­nate have driven An­gela Zammataro’s life,as she ex­plained to

An­gela Zammataro’s early school­ing was cut short at Moss­man High be­cause, com­ing from a fam­ily of seven, she said “I had to leave af­ter Year 10. My par­ents asked me to go to work be­cause there were so many chil­dren af­ter me. It was the big­gest tragedy of my young life hav­ing to leave school.”

Her fa­ther Al­fio had come to Moss­man in 1953 to ac­com­pany his sis­ter who had mar­ried a Moss­man man by proxy.

Two years later his young fam­ily joined him and they lived in a cor­ru­gated iron house in Moss­man.

The fam­ily could not af­ford pi­ano lessons for An­gela at the con­vent school, so she’d go into the class­room at lunchtime and try to play by her­self. She said “I just couldn’t not do it. I’d rather play pi­ano than go out­side.”

Her fa­ther played the Si­cil­ian tam­bourine and An­gela re­mem­bers “I woke up ev­ery morn­ing of my child­hood to my mother sing­ing songs in Si­cil­ian, Neapoli­tan and Ital­ian.”

Af­ter she left school An­gela worked in the Na­tional Bank, firstly in Moss­man, then Cairns and when she was trans­ferred to Bris­bane, she com­pleted Year 12 at night school.

She then went to univer­sity study­ing the Ital­ian lan­guage, English lit­er­a­ture and his­tory. In each place, she joined a choir.

In 1979 in Bris­bane she helped build an eth­nic ra­dio sta­tion, lit­er­ally from the ground up.

They even erected the mast which they’d pur­chased from Triple Z. Forty lan­guage groups were in­volved at Ra­dio 4EB which was owned, op­er­ated and fi­nanced by its mem­bers.

Later the Pub­lic Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion added some funds and SBS paid to stream their con­tent.

Then she worked es­tab­lish­ing the first mi­grant re­source cen­tre in Queens­land, or­gan­is­ing ser­vices in­clud­ing free le­gal ad­vice and English classes.

In 1981 like many young Aus­tralians, An­gela trav­elled to Europe, work­ing in Lon­don for a sec­re­tar­ial agency.

She con­tin­ued her Ital­ian lan­guage stud­ies in Peru­gia in Italy al­though she had spo­ken the Si­cil­ian dialect all her life.

“Ev­ery­one in Si­cily spoke Si­cil­ian as well as Ital­ian un­til TV came in the late ’70s. Then peo­ple de­cided to stop speak­ing the dialect to their chil­dren, which I feel is a great loss of cul­ture.” Some­how speak­ing a dialect was con­sid­ered a sign of ig­no­rance,

She moved around Europe, teach­ing English in Messina, Italy and in Spain and even taught a course in Lan­cashire in Eng­land.

But af­ter five years she moved to Mel­bourne for a fresh start where she took her Diploma of Ed­u­ca­tion at Mel­bourne Univer­sity.

Later she worked in the in­ner city of­fices of politi­cians and in a Com­mu­nity Health Cen­tre, do­ing ad­vo­cacy and ac­cess work.

Mu­sic was still a large part of her life and she joined a South Amer­i­can choir sing­ing Canto Gen­eral, an or­a­to­rio based on po­ems by Pablo Neruda set to mu­sic by Theodor­akis, telling the his­tory of Latin Amer­ica.

In the choir she met Chilean poet Se­gundo Ni­tor.

Se­gundo be­gan to put his po­ems to mu­sic un­der An­gela’s en­cour­age­ment, com­pos­ing mu­sic on his gui­tar, and with her knowledge of Span­ish, she could trans­late some of them into English.

They de­cided to re­turn to Moss­man to spend time with her elderly par­ents.

“We thought we’d be here for two years, but 21 years later I have no plans to go back to Mel­bourne.”

They formed their band Los Cara­coles, with their first gig at the Fun in the Shade fes­ti­val at Ku­randa in 1997 when their son Maru was three months old.

At first An­gela and Se­gundo only played at com­mu­nity functions such as Aus­tralia Day and Peace Week events run by Cairns Coun­cil, un­til Po­etry and Pasta be­gan ev­ery month at Mojo’s restau­rant in Moss­man.

As Maru grew, he could stand on a pedestal to play the con­gas and then Ben­nett Walker and Larry McGrath joined them. More re­cently they were joined by young Colom­bian Juan Pablo Ruiz Sierra. Now they com­bine with Maru and Ryo from the Mont­gomery Broth­ers and have just com­pleted a very suc­cess­ful tour of Chile.

The band has re­leased 3 CDs, per­form­ing orig­i­nal songs that are mostly about so­cial is­sues and the en­vi­ron­ment.

An­gela is still help­ing oth­ers, work­ing in Cairns teach­ing English as a Sec­ond Lan­guage which she be­gan at Moss­man TAFE 20 years ago.

She en­joys ed­u­cat­ing refugees from Bhutan and Myanmar about trop­i­cal cy­clones and dengue and even how to board a bus.

Some Bhutanese stu­dents who were farm­ers had never held a pen­cil.

So she has fol­lowed her life’s pas­sions of mu­sic, ed­u­ca­tion and ad­vo­cacy and also has her fam­ily close by, with her son and four of her sib­lings, Sam, An­thony, Roy and An­neMarie, liv­ing in the area.

“I’m not plan­ning to live any­where else now,” she says.

An­gela Zammataro to­day. In­set: Mother Maria with Tony, Sam and Angie

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