We Are Going Question 1 How does the author construct the impact of colonisation on Aboriginal experience and identity? In this poem, Oodgeroo grieves the loss of her Indigenous culture. She blames the power of the scurrying ‘white ants’ busily destroying, building and dominating the landscape with their new ways and ideas; in short, colonisation. Due to the effectiveness of their labours, these ants destroy everything in their endeavours, which cleverly sets up a dichotomy of ‘them’ and ‘us’ where Indigenous culture is the victim and the white ants are the victors. One culture thrives. The other is destroyed. In effect, she is stating that Indigenous culture has fractured and that even worse, the vanquished (or conquered) are slowly disappearing from view, their world shattered by the heartlessness and thoughtlessness of the victors. Painting: 'Colonisation' by Lawry Love, 2001. How does Oodgeroo create such an evocative poem? • Use of figures of speech Oodgeroo’s use of figures of speech is very effective in creating an evocative poem with a powerful message of protest which establishes a depressing tone on a dark, gloomy theme • uses similes • establishes the bora ring itself as a symbol of an entire Indigenous culture • uses metaphors to create strong images and enhance the sadness of a lost identity • describes the wonder of important Indigenous culture like Thunder, the corroboree and Dream Time with passion and wistfulness to create a sense of despair Oodgeroo’s skilled use of figurative language • Simile – “the many white men scurry around like ants” conjures up powerful derogatory images of selfish busyness – a chaotic lifestyle that is the antithesis of Indigenous culture • Metaphors (an extensive use to emphasise oneness with the land/spiritual world) – “we are the old ways” – “we are the sacred ceremonies” – “we are the lightning bolt over Gaphembah Hill” – “we are the shadow ghosts...” • Imagery – “the quiet daybreak paling the dark lagoon” – “camp fires burn low” • Repetition – the repetition of the word “gone” is extremely effective at emphasising loss – the repetition of the words “We are” in relation to the environment and legend emphasise the sense of belonging as well as the intense desire for oneness • Lines like “Notice of the estate agent reads: ‘Rubbish may be tipped here’ are particularly anguished statements that downgrade the worth of the bora ring and by default, the Indigenous culture • Lines like “They sit and are confused, they cannot say their thoughts” is a line that indicates the depth of their pain – their emotions are so turbulent they can not be uttered or explained Question 3 What is the poet’s purpose of writing such a deeply disturbing representation of a cultural clash? •To arouse an emotional response in the reader – perhaps even a sense of responsibility and guilt •To attempt to explain the importance of the change and how it impacted an entire race •To express her anger, sadness and angst •To appeal to the reader’s sense of decency •To appeal for understanding and empathy Question 5 What is the denotative meaning of the poem? • Indigenous Australians being removed from land that they consider to be their own The line, ‘And we are going’ specifically refers to the gradual disappearance of a group that has surrendered to another – it procures a feeling of helplessness and despair. Question 6 What is the connotative meaning of the poem? • the pain of being ostracised • the pain incurred from a lack of respect from the dominant culture towards the minority culture • the deep personal loss experienced from the death of a culture • the need for a sense of community and belonging between people • the need for a group of people to have a culture and an identity Question 7 What are the Australian references in this poem that other cultures or people in other countries may not fully understand? • bora ground (Australian aboriginal sacred ground - a pair of earth-banked rings linked by a pathway) • Dream Time • Gaphembah Hill •The Thunderer • eagle, emu and kangaroo • corroboree (a ceremonial meeting of Australian Aborigines, often with singing and dancing – women aren’t permitted) RESEARCH IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND COMPLETE MEANINGS! Question 8 How is this poem universal in its meaning? http://www.janesoceania.com/oceaniamyths_australia/AUSTRALIA%20Aboriginal%20Mystic%20Bora%20 Ceremony.jpg Homework Students find an image that reflects this poem for them and paste it onto the wiki with an explanations to how and why?