Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Amazing afternoon

Was privileged, with others, to spend time with Nancy Sheppard who was a teacher for a number of years in the 50s and 60s in the APY Lands in remote South Australia....so remote it will take us two days to get there when I go in a few weeks time with four other 'old fellas'
Nancy's book "Sojourn on another planet" is a series of reflections on her time in Ernabella and Fregon
It is at once instructive, entertaining and certainly confronting
She tells many stories that confront some of our complacency about the interaction of the so-called dominant culture with our indigenous people

My most poignant memory of Marumaru is from 1962
when he was about 13. The class was working through
a series of lessons concerned with Charles Sturt's
journey down the River Murray to Lake Alexandrina.
I had a picture showing a crowd of Aboriginal men
on a river bank carrying spears and decorated with
what looked like war paint. The explorers were seated
in a whaleboat in the middle of the river, and Captain
Sturt was standing with his rifle to his shoulder aiming
at the men on the bank. I read the caption under the
picture to the class, 'Captain Charles Sturt firing over
the heads of the natives to frighten them off.'
The class stilled. The children looked at each other
and at the floor. Then Marumaru said matter-of-factly,
'Don't say that. White people didn't shoot over our
heads. They shot at our bodies ... to kill us.' The truth of
his statement struck me forcibly. I folded the picture
and put it away.
This example is typical of many simple stories which pack a punch.
Personally, I like being taken out of my comfort zone. Even if it terrifies me and it surely will

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