Singalongs at the remote Amunturrngu community and neighbouring outstations in the south of the Northern Territory have become cultural celebrations observing anti-viral protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nightly events at Mount Liebig are being enriched by senior students from the local Watiyawanu School. Principal Larry Kenny said students were 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’, he said. ‘And I witnessed people observing the social distancing guidelines and amalgamating them into normal cultural meeting practices. Singers and musicians were about two metres apart, microphones were cleaned between performances, and two-and-a-half metres separated family camps.’
Students from Watiyawanu School shared their views on the singalongs. Brendan Tilmouth, 13, said: ‘We sit apart in family groups at singalongs because of COVID-19. We like to come together because it is lively, and we like to sing.’
Dyson Wheeler, 17, said: ‘I’ve come back to the college because of (the) singalongs. 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 Finke River Mission and Lutheran pastor Roderick Kantamara. Pastor Kantamara said: ‘Family groups sit apart because we follow the government’s rules about social distancing. All the Amunturrngu people come to our singalongs at the outstations to sing, pray for the world, and listen to stories from the Bible.’
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