The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method poem is “Still Here“.
Another show phoned in. The format this year is really giving us a bit of time to play with how the poems are presented…
JVG this week decided to acknowledge the last show of Still Here, which was presented by Yorta Yorta man Neil Morris.
It did a great job of showcasing Indigenous song both of the now and the past, in its various forms, and was a great lead in to The Radio Method
I chose to do a prose piece from an alleged book I have notes for all over the place, this snippet seemed more than appropriate.
To play this poem directly in your browser – just click the “play” button below:
There would be a shock in 1967 with the discovery of a race of people pre-dating British colonisation now living mostly on tracts of land we didn’t want – at least not until minerals were discovered or the Brits wanted to test a nuclear bomb, when once again it became our birthright.
News of the existence of this ancient and complex civilisation came as quite a surprise to most people in the suburbs, whose only previous contact had been viewing Charles Chauvel’s movie ‘Jedda’ or cement garden ornaments depicting the noble savage in a loin cloth waving a boomerang.
Described by The Sydney Herald in 1838 as “the filthy, brutal cannibals of New Holland”
these upstarts now not only demanded the right to vote in the country they’d called home for 65,000 years they also wanted a say in how the land was managed – a bit cheeky given all the time they’d been here and still hadn’t bothered to clear it.
Conservatives were outraged at any suggestion of giving them land rights – after all, it was our blood and sweat that removed the trees, scrub, and the very people who were now asking for some of it back.
Having gone to all the trouble of shooting, poisoning, raping, infecting and incarcerating the ancestors of these poachers , it seemed counter-productive to hand over some of the spoils to the descendants of those who’d managed to get away.
Besides, according to Captain Cook the place was uninhabited, and King George the Third, shortly to be declared insane, readily concurred, albeit from ten thousand miles away.
The fact that during his reign 1.6 million slaves were shipped from Africa to various parts of the empire with his blessing provides a subtle insight as to how anyone darker than a snowman was viewed in a more civilised, gentile, God fearing society.
While happy to add his seal, it did distract George from the important issues of the day; finding his randy brother a suitable wife and restraining the Americans, who, in addition to butchering their former inhabitants and replacing them with involuntary volunteers from the African continent, were now turning on their masters.
While the Brits were hoping for a diplomatic compromise, the Americans, the ungrateful bastards, decided to throw a tea party in Boston.
Obviously unfamiliar with the fine art of brewing the perfect cuppa, the Americans managed to spill more than they poured; 342 chests to be exact and all into the harbour.
High Tea had tuned into High Treason.
The British were not able to re-assert their sovereignty in the Americas until the 1960’s, courtesy of The Beatles.
Back in the antipodes, no sooner had the first string of beads been handed to the local un-inhabitants with the expectation of receiving their lands in return, than some left wing, republican, bleeding heart suggested perhaps the locals, despite not existing, were getting the thin end of the wedge.
This was quickly repelled with “It all happened so long ago and we can’t go back and change history, not even the history that hasn’t happened yet.”
They decided it was much easier to write their own history.
Eventually, in the mid 1800s it was recognised something had to be done to improve conditions and the answer was assimilation.
At great expense, the locals were rounded up and forced onto missions, sometimes hundreds of kilometres from their traditional country, and the land they’d vacated made available to settlers who would hopefully have it looking like a John Constable painting of the Suffolk countryside in the time it took to skin a Koala.
Every effort was made to make the transition easier for their guests, including providing food and lodgings, while forbidding them from speaking their own languages, outlawing cultural practices and forcing them to go to church to replace their ridiculous stories involving goannas, mountains and eagles with the factual account involving serpents, mountains and whales.
The burden was further lightened by removing their children in order to teach them valuable life skills, such as which direction to tilt a soup bowl and how to tie a Half Windsor.
Skip to the more enlightened 1980s and Lang Hancock offered his solution and I quote “Those that have been assimilated, earning good living wages among the civilised areas, that have been accepted into society and have accepted society and can handle society I’d leave them well alone. The ones that are no good to themselves and can’t accept things, the half-castes, and this is where most of the trouble comes, I would dope the water up so that they were sterile and would breed themselves out in future, and that would solve the problem.” End quote.
Despite what remains of that sentiment, the locals are still here and they’re not going anywhere – and their voice must be heard
© Copyright 2021 Ian Bland
Also have a listen to “Everything or Nothing”