Wonders of the World

Tribute to one of the great men of Lake Evala

Imagine the scene it is the 11th day of a funeral for the grand old man, a man who is immortal for his role as Turuga in the brilliant series Women of the Sun. He is loved by all and it was no accident that his character jumped out of the screen in that famous series. We must now not say his name or recall his image lest we hinder his journey back to his place in the spirit world. The ceremony is all about mapping that pathway and ensuring the peaceful transition occurs and the world is at peace. Words are hard to use to convey what is occurring. You have to close your eyes, stop talking and writing and feel with your heart and listen with your ears. The Nyamil and Djapu people with their song men and dancers are set up to the left of the door of the sacred shelter. Their dancers worked so hard on a very hot day... often the hose would come out to cool the sand. The Riratingu are about thirty yards to their left. To their left some thirty yards away are the Wangila and Marrawngu people. To their left and across the road are the Gayla and Djampingu people. Then as the circle comes back to the sacred shelter are my own Galpu family - the immediate family of the grand old man. For eleven days, eight or more hours a day, the ceremonies have continued. This is the eleventh day the day before the ceremonies are planned to finish. I talk to my gatu Jason and my wawa Djalu. They are strong and happy. The songs come in waves. As the Galpu clan's manikay finishes you hear echoes of the other family groups songs as they continue in wave after wave. Each family continues to dance and sing until they are satisfied they have done justice to the ceremony and to the man they are honouring. Jason's thunderous songs are overwhelming he is accompanied by all family members with the Galpu women supporting him behind and then standing and dancing. I cannot describe how wonderful it was to be there on this special occasion accompanied and supported by my wonderful Burarrwanga family members. Family members have requested that the sound of this manikay be posted so that young people can learn the songs... and the world can understand how important ceremony, and in balanda thinking, a tribute to one life can be! The manikay recorded here were recorded by the song man Jason himself with assistance from me and other family members. Each song was recorded then paused and recorded. You can hear other Nyamil, Djapu, Riratingu songs echoing in the background. The songs recorded here go for an hour recorded over a two and a half hour period from about 2pm to 4.30 pm on Saturday 20th September. Further film footage is being made available to family members. A time when so many people young and old come together is an important time for reflection and celebration of life and death. There is so much we can learn from the oldest living culture in the world. For non-Indigenous people new to these sounds and this information I hope that the sophistication, management, industry and effort that is required for ceremony becomes apparent. Our failure to understand the importance of these ceremonies for however long they may run and our unconscious tendency to assimilate these traditions so that they conform with our own cultural values is abhorrent. All of us need to question our own thinking. There is so much to learn from all first nations cultures. They are helping us to live well on this planet, to live well on our land and to understand the cycles of life and death and the importance of family and love.