Flat-back turtle Kujika of the Yanyuwa people PDF Print E-mail

Flat-back turtle Kujika of the Yanyuwa people by John Bradley
Flat-back turtle Kujika of the Yanyuwa people by John Bradley
Sea turtle hatchling
hurry to the sea
many, many hatchlings
rush to the sea

Yabalarla
birdabidanji
bardababayibayi
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Flatback turtle surfaces
to breathe,
It gasps for air

Ngalinjungalhi
Dunguwirndiwirndi
Birridanlanya bayi

The eyes of the sea turtle
are big and round,
they can see a great distance

Biyalawuna
yurrunjurr na-mi
makurra makujanyi

 

Notes on 'Kujika diagram' by John Bradley
One of the problems of showing kujika on paper is the ngalki (often translated as "skin" or "sweat", another way of translating it would be "essence") of the song cannot be shown and also the other things that happen when kujika are being sung cannot be shown. When people sing kujika there is a lot of noise; there is the singing, there are the boomerangs beating out the ngalki, there are men talking to each other about how many times to sing a verse, there is discussion about what country is being sung, there are talks about the old people who used to sing the song, there are important discussions about verses which need to be left out because they talk about someone who has just recently died. Sometimes there is crying because people are happy to be hearing the kujika again, or it might be reminding them of a family member who has died. There will also be times when the singing stops and the men have a rest, have a smoke, tell jokes and talk about how much further they have to sing and, how far away daylight is before they start singing, this is gauged by watching for the stars called the Seven Sisters. Sometimes when the kujika is being sung in the daytime there maybe women singing out, talking about the kujika, there will be children running around and maybe even dogs fighting. Singing kujika is a noisy experience.

Today there only a few old men who can sing some of the kujika, and there are some old women who know where they travel and what is sung inside them, but they cannot sing them. The Yanyuwa families that own the kujika are worried that these important songs might never be known to younger generations, so they have been working very hard to preserve them by recording them, writing them down and even drawing them so young people will know what is using in the kujika.