We Are Going - stpetersisthebest

We Are Going
Question 1
How does the author construct the impact of
colonisation on Aboriginal experience and
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
– “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...”
– “the quiet daybreak paling the dark lagoon”
– “camp fires burn low”
– 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
• the need for a sense of community and belonging
between people
• the need for a group of people to have a culture and an
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)
Question 8
How is this poem universal in its meaning?
Students find an image that reflects this poem for them and paste it onto the wiki with an explanations to how and why?

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