Those Who Remain Will Always Remember

More than 300,000 non-indigenous Australians marched across Sydney’s Harbour Bridge last year to kick-start the nation’s ‘Sorry’ day. Similar marches took place in each capital city. Adding further embarrassment to Australia’s conservative Federal Government, rock band Midnight Oil had their unambiguous ‘Sorry’ message emblazoned across their clothes during their televised closing act at the Sydney Olympics.

Saying sorry: a precursor to reconciliation. Slowly, slowly, some things change. Indigenous voices are beginning to be sought. This inspiring anthology of Aboriginal writing typifies the passion of such voices.

Featuring short stories, poems, myths, legends, essays, political and ceremonial writings, it shows the diversity of Nyoongah – or ‘Aboriginal’ – concerns. Kinship, suffering and survival are dominant themes. Even though the various life narratives have their own rhythms, they are often fragmentary. Yet in all cases they refreshingly read Aboriginal ‘history’ in a non-Anglo-Celtic way.

Subjects range from blackbirding in Broome to nuclear testing in central Australia. The writers deal with the country’s harsh assimilationist programmes, referring to times when Aboriginal people had to carry dog licences as identification.

The anthology is a compelling tribute to the strength and identity of indigenous Australians. Together these writers present a powerful testimony to the importance of the past in the construction of a better future. They also take us by the hand to allow us to see that mourning must inevitably precede healing.

New Internationalist issue 334 magazine cover This article is from the May 2001 issue of New Internationalist.
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