Dear Indigenous readers: this post contains references and images of deceased persons.
I posted recently about the rising band East Journey, led by members of the Yunupingu family, and I spoke of Mandawuy Yunupingu, grandfather of the lead singer, and a hero of mine. Tonight I watched a moving program on TV, Australian Story, about the life and death in 2013 of Mandawuy. He was an indigenous leader from Yirrkala in north-east Arnhem Land, who became a rock star and took his band, Yothu Yindi, to the the world in the late 80s and 90s. He bridged two worlds, and had loyal and loving bonds with his own people as well as with white fellas, including Bob Hawke (Prime Minister in the late 80s) Paul Kelly and Peter Garrett (ex-leader of the band Midnight Oil and current Labor MP). He was declared Australian of the Year in 1992, for his services to his people and to music.
Mandawuy was a vibrant, charismatic person, who became the first indigenous school principal before he became a rock star. His mission was always to inspire and lead his people, to teach them ‘both ways’ so they could survive in this white-dominated country. He succeeded in many ways, and his legacy will live on, in the music of his people, in his message of hope, joy, love country, in the pride of his family and people and their stories, and in the hearts and memories of all who loved him, whether close up or from afar, like me.
Namaste, and vale, Yunupingu.