Region Media’s Festival of Open Minds was proud to showcase Sassi Nuyum, a performer, person and soul travelling life’s road with a compelling insight and honest creativity that rises above the barriers that sometimes block cultural understanding and open conversation.
Sassi Nuyum, aka Meaghan Holt, has been writing since she was a little girl. You could say, writing runs in her blood.
Meaghan lost her mother at the age of nine. She was then raised predominately with her Aboriginal family, extended and otherwise. That said her mother’s spirit is strong and burns bright; it guides Meaghan’s writing along with her very large bloodline of ancestors.
Her writing and subsequent performance can pack a punch, hence her creative name ‘Sassi Nuyum’ – Nuyum meaning spirit in the Wakka Wakka language. A spirit that is always edged with a lively, bold stage presence that supports the idea of a ‘sassy spirit’.
Sassi now lives on Yuin Country in the Bega Valley but was born on the lands of the Kurnai People in Yarram, Victoria.
Her mother’s family are of European background – dairy farmers who were very connected to the countryside they made a living on. Her grandmother (Pickering) is from Wakka Wakka Country, her grandfather (Holt) was born on Bidjara land at Springsure, west of Gladstone in Queensland and her father is a Gayndah man, also a Queenslander.
Meaghan’s ancestors also had periods of being removed to Worrabinda and Cherbourg missions. It’s heritage Sassi has a deep connection and respect for, values that impress and leave a mark on audiences.
Sassi writes on subjects ranging from mental health, colonisation, domestic violence, substance misuse, environment, and grief, with each performance guided by the moment and the spirits at her side.
Sassi Nuyum, at the opening ceremony of the Festival of Open Minds – Parklight Bega, 13 September 2019.Last year’s Giiyong Festival at Jigamy between Pambula and Eden was the first time this thirty-something artist performed publically. It lit a spark in her and the rest of the community, both wanting more and a deeper understanding.
Meaghan Holt, both as herself and as Sassi Nuyum, channels the hurt, pain and resilience of her own background and that of her peoples in a way that open minds, hearts and shared understanding.
Her performance at Open Minds 2019 in September prompted a standing ovation and tears from the audience.
Click play to be a part of the experience…
Sound recording by Gerry Corcoran at the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre. ‘People with Oomph’ written and performed by Damon Davies.
Original Article published by Ian Campbell on About Regional.