Sam Watson’s new play Oodgeroo – bloodline to country opens today. The play centres around the 1974 hijacking of an aircraft in Dubai by Palestinian terrorists. One of the passengers on that plane was Kath Walker (later to be Oodgeroo Noonuccal). The other central issue is the differing pathways to peace; for Oodgeroo it was negotiation, but for her son Denis along with Sam Watson (the play’s author), it was armed struggle and the formation of the Australian arm of the Black Panthers. This play is a must see for all poets and activists.
Here is a link to a great article by Rosemary Sorenson from The Australian – An Ode to Oodgeroo.
And of course, the play features many of Oodgeroo’s poems. Here is one of my favourites:
We Are Going
by Oodgeroo Noonuccal
They came in to the little town
A semi-naked band subdued and silent
All that remained of their tribe.
They came here to the place of their old bora ground
Where now the many white men hurry about like ants.
Notice of the estate agent reads: ‘Rubbish May Be Tipped Here’.
Now it half covers the traces of the old bora ring.
‘We are as strangers here now, but the white tribe are the strangers.
We belong here, we are of the old ways.
We are the corroboree and the bora ground,
We are the old ceremonies, the laws of the elders.
We are the wonder tales of Dream Time, the tribal legends told.
We are the past, the hunts and the laughing games, the wandering camp fires.
We are the lightening bolt over Gaphembah Hill
Quick and terrible,
And the Thunderer after him, that loud fellow.
We are the quiet daybreak paling the dark lagoon.
We are the shadow-ghosts creeping back as the camp fires burn low.
We are nature and the past, all the old ways
Gone now and scattered.
The scrubs are gone, the hunting and the laughter.
The eagle is gone, the emu and the kangaroo are gone from this place.
The bora ring is gone.
The corroboree is gone.
And we are going.’