A Great Man of Mata Mata

Ceremonies begin this week-end to celebrate the life of a great man of Indigenous Australia.

Was there ever a more handsome, generous and loving man than Met. He looked after everyone. He was a guardian angel and protector. He was a great supporter of his family. He was so gentle and kind. Even strangers who knew him for only a few minutes felt confidence and happiness in his presence.

Once we had fun driving with  family members in the troopie, I envisioned Met as the Captain of the Mata Mata team, the mighty Mata Mata men were playing against the combined forces of the AFL. The game was of course played at the MMCG – Mata Mata Cricket Ground.  We imagined a commentator describing Met at centre half back throwing down his walking stick, catching the football in a high mark, tumbling to the ground, then regaining his feet and making an almighty run, dodging to his left and right, handballing to Terence, who handballed back and then Met reaching Centre Half Forward and kicking sixty five metres, truly and sweetly, straight through the middle for an amazing goal! Everyone was laughing, happy envisioning the scene.

It was an imaginary vision shared between us cousins, but in many ways it was true of Met. He was a champion. In his own quiet way he was a captain and a leader. He kicked many goals for his family.

He wanted better facilities for his family at Mata Mata. He wanted the runway extended so that bigger planes could come to the community bringing family and cultural tourists.  Met of course had with his own hands already extended the runway and cut it out of the bush. He belongs in the pantheon of the great men of Mata Mata.

Met loved his yeppas very much. He was their right hand man. When the politicians and others would come to the community making promises and talking about things from Darwin or Canberra or Nhulunbuy, Met was always a quiet presence in the background. He was the one building the fences, fixing up buildings, and helping Batambil to build her arts centre to make things better for family and Yolngu family members everywhere.

We will always remember him. We will always miss him. Young men and women please look up to Met and the great men of Mata Mata. Forget the gambling. Forget the alcohol. Forget the dazzle of the television and the cities. Protect the homelands. Work hard in the homelands.  Protect culture to pass on everything to the children.

Though the sound of his walking stick hitting the ground is now no more, he is with us in our hearts. He is with us when we fix up the fences and cut the grass and smooth over the pot holes, chain saw the trees that fall across the road.  He is with the young men and women. His gentle presence is an inspiration to us all.

Peter Botsman


* We cannot mention the name of the great man, and all photographs on the ISX website have been deleted in accordance with Yolngu custom and family wishes.