How Dr G.Yunupiŋu took Yolŋu culture to the world

The music of Dr G. Yunupiŋu — who has died at the age of 46 from complications arising from a childhood illness — is steeped in the culture of his people, the Yolŋu of northeast Arnhem Land, and specifically in Manikay, the sacred song tradition performed by the Yolŋu when conducting public ceremonies.

Manikay is a medium through which the Yolŋu interpret reality, define their humanity, reckon their ancestral lineages, and evidence ownership of their hereditary homelands through their ability to sing in the tradition of their ancestors.

Dr Yunupiŋu drew immense strength and inspiration from this tradition, and particularly from the Manikay repertoires of his own clan, the Gumatj, and his mother’s clan, the Gälpu. Direct musical and lyrical quotations and references to ancestral themes drawn from Manikay repertoires are present throughout his original songs

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