Words, music and arrangement: Deb Jones 2015

The acknowledgement of Aboriginal ownership of the land is set to music as an alternative to a spoken introduction.

Deb’s comments on the song: “Solidarity Choir often find ourselves singing first at gigs, and I like to acknowledge the traditional owners. I’d often off-handedly thought ‘we should be singing this’. We already share one indigenous song about land rights with our audiences. The choir were on the lookout for a song that gave voice to how we as non-indigenous Australians feel about what’s been going on. So I decided it was time I gave the Acknowledgement a shot. It could have become a much longer song with so many issues, but I wanted something we could put upfront every gig. It’s an acknowledgement and a promise, really. We acknowledge that we’re standing on Aboriginal land. We acknowledge injustices done in our name to the Aboriginal people of this country, and we will step up and speak out.”


We acknowledge the traditional owners of this land
The Gadigal and Wangal of the nation of Eora
And other first Australians who’ve made this place their home
And any actions done in our name that had them leave the land that’s in their bones
With things done in our name they left the land that’s in their bones.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land
The ones the country walks in; the holders of the stories
We pay respect to elders past and present, and all indigenous here
We pay our respects
We acknowledge injustices done in our name
We acknowledge
Was, is, always will be
We are more than sorry
We will speak out. We will speak out. We will speak out
We will speak. We will not turn, No!
We acknowledge this land is Aboriginal Land!

The intention is that the words “The Gadigal and Wangal of the nation of Eora” be replaced when necessary with the names of the appropriate groups and countries, according to where the song is to be sung.

Afrikan Medley

Words and music: Traditional South African
Arranged: Miguel Heatwole 1993

Often a big finisher at our gigs is this South African collection. It starts with Thina Sizwe, a poignant demand for the land stolen from the black nation by the whites. Reflecting the admirable ability that people sometimes have of celebrating in the face of adversity the exuberant Afrika O Afrika urges her people to “dry your tears! Who’s crying now?” – and we follow this with Makhosikazi a militant song from the women of South Africa for their sisters everywhere. The melody, carried by the sopranos, is traditional but the two counterpointed harmonies are by Miguel Heatwole. The medley closes with a tribute to Nelson Mandela that we learned for his 1990 visit to Sydney and sang again for him ten years later. Rolihlahla is Mandela’s first name and it translates as  “pulling the branch of a tree” – meaning a troublemaker.

Thina Sizwe Translation

As for us, the black nation, we cry for our country which was taken by the whites. We say they should leave our land. The children of Africa cry for their country.

Thina Sizwe Lyrics

(call and response)

Thina Sizwe – Thina Sizwe esintsundu
Sikalela – Sikalela izwe lethu
Elathathwa – Elathathwa ngabamhlope
Elathathwa – Elathathwa ngabamhlope
Mabayekhe – (Sithi) mabayek’ umhlaba wethu
Mabayekhe – (Sithi) mabayek’ umhlaba wethu

Abantwana – Abantwana be Africa
Bakhalela – Bakhalela izwe labo
Elathathwa – Elathathwa ngabamhlope
Elathathwa – Elathathwa ngabamhlope
Mabayekhe – (Sithi) mabayek’ umhlaba wethu
Mabayekhe – (Sithi) mabayek’ umhlaba wethu

Thina Sizwe – Thina Sizwe esintsundu.

Africa O Africa Translation

Africa, O Africa !
Who’s crying now?

Be comforted mother
Who’s crying now?

Africa O Africa Lyrics

Afrika, O Afrika
Ngubanina olilayo?

Thula mama, thula mama
Ngubanina olilayo?

Makhozikazi Translation

Women, it is our year.
When they touched the women
They touched a grinding stone
Watch out, you’re going to die

Makhozikazi African Lyrics

Ngula nyaka wethu
Wathint’ abafazi
Wathinta imbokodo
Basopha uzakufa

Rolihlahla Mandela Lyrics

(call and response)

Rolihlahla Mandela
Freedom is in your hands
Show us the way to freedom
In this land of Africa

Mandela, Mandela, Mandela
Mandela says freedom now
Now we say away with slavery
In this land of Africa