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Stewie Mudcat Australia/NZ Songbook (993* d) RE: Rise Up Mudcat Songbook - Australia 09 Jan 21

(K.Walker [Oodgeroo Noonuccal]/G.Shearston)

Must we native old Australians
In our own land rank as aliens?
Banish bans and conquer caste
Then we’ll win our own at last

We want hope, not racialism
Brotherhood, not ostracism
Black advance, not white ascendance
Make us equals, not dependants
We need help, not exploitation
We want freedom, not frustration
Not control, but self-reliance
Independence, not compliance
Not rebuff, but education
Self-respect, not resignation


Free us from a mean subjection
From a bureaucrat protection
Let’s forget the old-time slavers
Give us fellowship, not favours
Encouragement, not prohibitions
Homes, not settlements and missions
We need love, not overlordship
Grip of hand, not whip-hand wardship
Opportunity that places
White and black on equal basis


You dishearten, not defend us
Circumscribe who should befriend us
Give us welcome, not aversion
Give us choice, not cold coercion
Status, not discrimination
Human rights, not segregation
You the law, like Roman Pontius
Make us proud, not colour-conscious
Give the deal you still deny us
Give goodwill, not bigot bias


Give ambition, not prevention
Confidence, not condescension
Give incentive, not restriction
Give us Christ, not crucifixion
Though baptised and blessed and bibled
We are still tabooed and libelled
You devout salvation-sellers
Make us neighbours, not fringe-dwellers
Make us mates, not poor relations
Citizens, not serfs on stations


Then we'll win our own at last

Youtube clip

Note by John Baker for Gary Shearston's 1964 album 'Songs of our time':

We Want Freedom (the Aboriginal Chater of Rights), as arranged by Gary Shearston, is as new and different as the Yirrkala Aboriginal bark painting petition on reservation rights to the House of Representatives in 1963. The Aboriginal Charter of Rights (retitled 'We Want Freedom'in its song form) was written by Aboriginal poet Kath Walker* and dedicated to the 5th Conference of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders held in Adelaide in 1962. The poem also appears as the dedication piece to Kath Walker's book of verse published in April, 1964, under the title 'We Are Going'. In the music of Gary's arrangement can be seen the modern folk process of weaving together the old and the new as penetrating poetry becomes a moving and powerful song. After writing the chorus, the inspiration for his chant-like cadence in the verses came from the 'Devil Dance' (a song from Yirrkala in Eastern Arnhea Land), collected and recorded by Sandra LeBrun Holmes. The end result of this cross-pollination of poetry and song in the tribal and folk fi elds is an anguished demand for human understanding. [* later known as Oodgeroo Noonuccal]

A paper on the poetry of Kath walker: Click


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