Shaw Street Survivor
I am beginning to write my life down as a series of poems and general writings in order to record my personal life experiences for my future descendants and others who may be interested.
I am also doing this for my upcoming December Solo Art Exhibition here in Port Augusta titled ‘Aboriginalism Art’ in order to educate all Australians that Aboriginal Art is much more than just a dot painting – and we should be permitted to express ourselves artistically as we see fit and not be constrained to one type of art form.
Like I always say “My whole life is sometimes a poltical statement in itself for being an Aboriginal person born in the 1960’s, pre-1967 Referendum I now realise today, that back then, I was not counted, welcomed or invited to sit at the Australian table community.”
So much of my writings will reflect that thought and that pre-1967 Australian attitude for we Aboriginals, and sadly some of the attitudes back then are often stll around today.
Shaw Street Survivor
©2009 Walha Udi Marvyn McKenzie Snr
“I’m a Shaw Street Survivor” I always say,
“From South Australia, Port Augusta, Umeewarra Mission,”
Living in a two room corrugated tin hut amidst the sand hills,
No indoor bathroom, No fly screens, no indoor toilet to sit and piss on.
The old two room corrugated tin huts were bloody cold in winter,
And the hot forty degrees of summer’s scolding heat,
Always heated us up, like we were all in a hot tin can,
With the heat of the Sun as it glared down upon the corrugated sheet.
Along Shaw Street were all our huts aligned,
Shaw Street Neighbours were we.
We always cared for our neighbours and everything would be shared,
Despite the fact we were all living in utter abject poverty.
Much of our clothes and furnishings were scavenged and hand-me-downs,
Scavengers of the Port Augusta City Dump were we,
Where what the white fellas threw out, we would throw in,
And home to Shaw Street will we all drive or walk merrily.
Discarded waste, discarded things, discarded needful things,
We would all carry home with much pride and glee,
And there was always one of our Mob, who could fix up the broken things,
To fix up, like brand new, an old armchair, a table, a bed and any other thing, found we.
The reason why the Port Augusta City Dump was our main shopping centre?
We were not permitted to shop or walk on any of the town’s main street,
Without a permit obtained firstly from our Welfare bosses and overlords,
So it was always at the City Dump we Umeewarra Mission Mob would shop and meet.
We were also very much unaware of the invisible walls that surrounded us,
Invisibles walls of imprisonment and oppression around all day,
Well at least all of us kids did not know such invisible things existed,
We merely thought the life we were born into was always that way.
Whilst my memories of those happy days on Shaw Street remain,
I now realised that some of the elderly and young who were there with me,
Did not survive the abject poverty and many of the treatable illnesses and diseases,
It was only my Mother who saved save me and my young Brother Willy.
Mum was a strong character and person, who often lead the way,
She not only cared for my Brother and Me,
She also cared a lot for all our Shaw Street neighbours,
Arguing always with the Welfare Mob for better community amenity
You know what is very ironic for me, a Shaw Street Survivor,
A Housing Manager with the South Australian Housing Trust became me,
I often hear some of me Aboriginal tenants complaining about their homes,
I would hide a sly grin behind my Public Servant face, thinking of Shaw Street and we
Growing up on South Australia, Port Augusta, Umeewarra Mission Shaw Street,
I must suppose has influenced me politically and socially to always be a striver,
A striver and fighter for Aboriginal Rights and Equality,
God knows I am very, very blessed to still be here and call myself a Shaw Street Survivor
This entry was posted on August 12, 2009 at 3:41 p08 and is filed under Aboriginal, Aboriginal Social Justice, Australia, culture, Education, My Beliefs, My Poems, My Writings, Oppression, Poems, politics, Port Augusta, Social Justice, South Australia, Stories about Me, Uncategorized with tags Aboriginal, aboriginal reserve life, Aboriginal Rights, Aboriginal Social Justice, Australia, housing, politics, shaw street. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.