Singalongs at the remote Amunturrngu community and neighbouring outstations have become cultural celebrations again. The nightly events at Mt Liebig are being enriched by senior students at the local Watiyawanu school, who are supplying music and Pintupi/Luritja lyrics for the festivities.
‘The borders imposed by the coronavirus have deflected young men and women into activities that are self-enhancing and socially inspirational’, Principal Larry Kenny said. People were observing the social distancing guidelines and amalgamating them into normal cultural meeting practices. Singers and musicians stay about two metres apart, microphones are cleaned between performances, and two-and-a-half metres separate family camps of just five to eight people.
Dyson Wheeler, 17, said: ‘I’ve come back to the college because of the singalongs. At the college I can get help using computers and printing lyrics. I like to write my own songs in English, and also in Luritja.’
Rosemary Daniels, 12, said: ‘Because of the coronavirus sickness, we come together and sing and pray for people. Singing makes people happy, and we love it.’
The singalongs are organised by the Finke River Mission and community pastor Roderick Kantamara. ‘Family groups sit apart because we follow the government’s rules about social distancing’, he said. ‘All the Amunturrngu people come to our singalongs at the outstations to sing, pray for the world, and listen to stories from the Bible.’
Paul Traeger is the FRM support worker for the Pintupi/Luritja Language Area. Larry Kenny is the principal of Mount Liebig School. Martin Bennett works for the media section of the Education Department of the Northern Territory.