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After Maralinga

Latin Quarter
Language: English

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Related Songs

Radio Africa
(Latin Quarter)
Maralinga
(Urban Guerrillas)


[1989]
Album "Swimming Against The Stream"
Scritta da Steve Skaith, Mike Jones e Tony Waerea.

In the 1950's in Maralinga, in Australia, the British Government carried out nuclear tests. The safety precautions for the soldiers involved and the local population (in this part of the country mostly Aborigines) was grotesquely inadequate. 130 cases of severe health effects on British soldiers are recorded. This song was written before the Government had declared itself prepared to pay them compensation. In the language of the Aborigines 'Maralinga' means 'thunder'. At the end of the song a Didgeridoo, a wind instrument of the Aborigines, is played.
The affairs of a handful of natives
Are as nothing when compared with the crowns
It's for the good of all, all the dust that falls
From deep black clouds over out-back towns

You could learn it from the chants of the song-men
'Til the song-men disappeared
Night glowed down under, in a place called 'Thunder'
From a settling dust that even settlers feared

After Maralinga, the half-life lingers
After Maralinga, the moving finger writes to say
After Maralinga:
That a government stalls
While whole lives just waste away

There are at least one hundred and thirty
Though their numbers are set to expand
Who lost their health and the health of their children
Wearing British khaki on stolen land

But meanwhile the physicists insist on accuracy
And meanwhile they total all the bills in the treasury
But between there and the suffering
Something gets lost
'Cos they won't add up and they don't pay up the clean-up cost

After Maralinga, the half-life lingers
After Maralinga, the song-men come again someday
In their deep-red ochre and their whitest clay

Contributed by Alessandro - 2010/2/3 - 09:41


Notes:

The Crown's affairs: Area of responsibilities of the British crown.
Out-back: Adjective for the sparsely populated areas of Australia, especially the interior, where predominately Aborigines live.
Song-men: Aborigine singers, who keep and pass along the history of their people in their songs.
Half-life: The time taken for half the atoms in a sample of a radioactive isotope to decay.
Down-under: Colloquial expression for Australia.
The moving finger: Symbol for fate, used for the first time in a novel by Omar Khayam, an allegedly Arabic writer (who however turned out to be a European). The expression has taken hold in everyday speech.
Treasury: The UK Ministry responsible for the management of the economy.

Alessandro - 2010/2/3 - 09:44



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