Wednesday, 18 July 2018

My own country

I saw the ugliness of apartheid
Long ago in the Nineteen fifties
In England, in the street, in the faces
Of white South Africans looking cross
Avoiding using the same pavement
Coloureds now walked on happily

And so I made a vow that in my life
I'd smile in friendship with coloured people
To speak with them if there was a chance
To show that they were welcome to me
We could walk on the pavement together
Hand in hand in harmony

I migrated from Britain to Australia
More than fifty years ago to find
That native Australian aboriginees
Were treated with the same disrespect
Despite welcome to all other migrants
To build a land strong and free

Eventually native Australians
Were counted too and given the vote
Rather than being considered part
Of the country's flora and fauna
I like to think that Nelson Mandela 
Also helped my own country

Image of both the Aboriginal and Australian flags flying together in Victoria Square, Adelaide, South Australia found at


  1. The world is yet to learn the language of "hand in hand harmony". It's for the poets to sing it out. A beautiful tribute to Nelson Mandela for the special day.

  2. Robin, we can add Dr Martin Luther King Jr to that list, as well. As a Canadian, it shames me that Canada, as a nation, still treats its own indigenous population, as 3rd class citizens.

  3. "That native Australian aboriginees
    Were treated with the same disrespect"

    A wonderful tribute to a man who helped all of us around the world.

  4. You last verse stirred me the most.


  5. I can never understand why white skin gains such privilege when it is just - skin. I, too, always smile at people of colour, extend friendship. In this village, we live on traditional First Nations land, and our citizenry makes it a point to acknowledge this at every gathering. I so relate to your poem, Robin.

  6. One can make changes, even tiny incremental ones, and get into a life that feels just easy, yet some find it so difficult. To me, that's part of the mystery of relationships, Robin. You have beautifully portrayed the conflict in your poem..Well done!

  7. The British Empire and its colonisation was steeped in racism.The very worst thing about it was ithe B.E was supposed to be Christian,thus the word becoming synonymous with the word 'hypocrite' to non Christians.

  8. In reference to both your countries Robin, you've certainly seen a whole lot of ugliness. Yet you also saw the person behind the skin, and extended your hand as a gesture of friendship. That to me is greatness. THANK YOU!