A great Yolngu man died yesterday. Yunupingu died of kidney disease at 56 years of age, at an age much younger than most Australians have died or will die. Like so many of his indigenous people, he died too young. Australia has lost a great man, a great artist and a great indigenous leader.
Yunupingu was the leader of Yothu Yindi, a fantastic band. In 2009, during one of the school assemblies, my daughter Clea and all the students in her year danced and sang along to one of Yothu Yindi’s greatest hits: Treaty. She played these bimli, the clapping sticks, which she had hand-painted herself. It was a fantastic display of energy, of commitment, of youth who could believe in themselves and in a more just future for all their connationals.
It feels it was only the other day that I was standing there, watching and clapping along, encouraging the very young school kids in their singing and dancing, in their embracing the indigenous culture of the First Australians, in demanding a Treaty for this country.
Maybe one day there will be a treaty. Probably not in the next few years, I'm afraid. I think Clea would have liked to see a treaty for all her people, indigenous and non-indigenous.
She's now buried in this Ngunnawal land, where she was born: she's also part of this land.