Instead of asking, she took one look at the colour of his skin and proclaimed “Africa.”
My friend looked away, clearly embarassed. “He is from Australia,” I corrected her.
In fact he is an indigenous Australian of the Yolngu people, one of the oldest living cultures on earth.
Yolngu have lived in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory for at least 50 thousand years. However the majority of Australians had never even heard of Yolngu until the film Ten Canoes took out the Cannes Festival Special Jury Prize and was nominated for an Academy Award – it was the first feature film shot in an indigenous Australian language.
Many moons ago, I had the privilege of being invited to Ramingining, a small, remote town in the heart of the Arafura (crocodile infested) Swamp where Ten Canoes was filmed. I am ashamed to admit before that visit, I had no idea English is the fifth or sixth language spoken by many of the 800 Yolngu who live there. Some don’t even speak it.
The theme of this week’s Photo Challenge has inspired me to share some of the images I took of that trip.
For a world traveller, Ramingining is one of the most foreign places I’ve visited.