By Tiddas Take Back.
We were running late. Avoiding the peak hour tube we chose to black track it instead, navigating the streets of Central London. Someone asked what’s the time? It’s already 10am. Shit we’re gonna be late. Nah we running on Koori time.
We be right.
Arriving at the entrance of the British museum we felt like we had stepped into a jigsaw puzzle of “acquired pieces”. Our backdrop included Romanesque columns and gods but we were no where near Italy.
All roads lead to Rome but as we had learnt all of our roads lead to and from Kamay (Botany Bay).
When we had left home our last steps on our own country was in the same area that was first stepped on by the Gubbas. The foreigners whom “forcibly acquired” that land now known as Australia somewhere between 1700 and 1800.
We met Gaye who is a Palawa woman, a great great grand daughter of Fanny Cochrane Smith.
Gaye works at the British museum and she kindly made time to show us the two Aboriginal displays currently open to the public. Despite only two displays, their collection includes 6000 cultural objects and materials from New South Wales with majority of it pre dating 1860 and being stored in east London, and guess we’re we are staying?
That’s right east London. We may have just black tracked our way into oblivion.
And then – boom! Time stops and Gaye drops the bomb on us, she suggests that we check out the Kings Library, the same king who ordered captain cook ‘to engage and conciliate the affections of the natives’.
Slap the black off me and call me colonised! We had the breath knocked out of our lungs when Gaye directed us to a specific cultural object that elicited a response we could never had anticipated.
Displayed behind a glass panel with a questionable yet very vague description, was a bark shield.
This bark shield was one of the first Australian objects to arrive in Britain. In April, 1770 captain cook and his officers attempted to land on Australia’s south east coast. When two men of the Eora tribe tried to stop the landing, one was wounded by gunfire and dropped this shield. First contact in the pacific were often tense and violent.
What this description fails to mention is that history is recorded by the conquerors so what of the conquered?
Black to reality.
Lorna, Gabi, Ali and Lou.