Yolŋu Studies Livestream Lecture Series

Lecture 24: Gurul (Visiting)

Lecture link: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/2047566/events/1840804/videos/49418834

[Watched at the Ethel Tory Centre, ANU, 6pm Wednesday, May 14th 2014]

In this lecture Ṉärrkama talks about the concept of Gurul (visiting/business talks).

Yo hello good morning students and all ga its another week ... in teaching and another story to tell. I'm sitting back here at Milliŋgimbi again, outside my home this is a house that I live in and on the side is a Port Adelaide, Port Power Aussie Rules football team that I go on with. ... I'm a fan of Port Adelaide which last week successfully defeated Geelong Cats and he's on top of the ladder. So, yo! Manymal ... I'm happy. I've been following it since they began.
I hope everybody's fine wherever you are... thanks for putting up with me, taking time to listen in, sometimes I'm having a bit of difficultly with ... internet, website and fixing up minor problems trying to get back online.
It might be a little bit windy here ... its the cold wind straight after the miḏawarr [after wet] season ... when bush-tucker is ready out there and then the cold breeze start[s] to blow in, and that's the dharratharra [cold weather]... just before the dry season ...
Then again its bush-tucker time, cold breeze, mud crabs, when you're walking along the mangroves, [be] careful, sometimes you might step on them because they're camouflaged ... they get cold and they want to cover themselves in mud ... so you gotta have a good eyesight to find them.
Up the river, way up the river towards fresh water creeks, from the salt-water towards the fresh water creeks there are normally mangrove goannas, called the mindjirr'thirr or the biḏiŋmirr [?]. And they are ready to be hunted this time of the season. They are nice and fatty and juicy.
And plus other bush foods out there on the islands: seagull eggs starting to hatch or being laid, in the swamps magpie geese having chicks or having eggs, probably by now they're starting to open up chicks and little chicks for magpies, but we normally ... going and collect magpie eggs - there are certain ways of buŋgul dancing ceremonies.
Today I'm going to talk about ... what we call a gurrul ... or a visit ... its kind of a visit between families, its a kind of visit between ... clans, senior elders, and like I said just normal visit, go and find out whether family are doing OK.
Some people call it, some languages they call it gurrul with ... that comma on the top there, or, my family we can call it gurrul.
And here we can see a photo [showing picture of family members seated on the ground and a person walking in to visit] of family and a man coming to visit this family ... just from ... next door but just want to come and be with them ... they are a family but he's just come, coming along to sit down and discuss some matters, maybe they want to, look at the season, the day, like I just said today there's a cool breeze blowing, tide's out and the ... mangrove worms are ready to be hunted now because they've just finished ... its the right time of the year from now towards ... october, before november when the thunderstorms come around - we call it wolmamirri, and that's where mangrove worms start to have eggs, its kind of eggs or having young ones and that's when we ... stop hunting them, collecting them and eating them, we wait for another season, till about this time of the year and they've re-multiplied and cleaned up and its just right delicacy time to go and hunt them and eat them now. So that's what they might be discussing here [indicating the picture of the family again]... or just hunting or just disciplining children together with mum, grandma and the dad, sitting round, telling story to family ... and that is what gurrul is about.
Gurrul or gurrul'yunmirri rom ... that people must have, that connection between families. Instead of living in houses, now families tend to stay in a house and they want to ... balanda have made houses so that there's three [or] four bedroom houses and through that there is no communication between father, wife and children and ... even worst off with technology children do their own communication and sometimes get up to no good behind closed doors, but here gurul is a thing that needs to be practiced everyday with the family to make it a really strong ... connection. So children are always learning what mum, dad ga grandparents have in a story about disciplining (raypirri) about stories about mälk about stories about the season [and] how people go hunting. Yo, so that's gurrul one way, in [a] family level on the grounds that happens everyday with family.
Another gurul is ... with senior elders ... old man here [indicating picture of elder] wants to decide 'ok, this year there's gonna be a good time, I want people to come sit down with other elders' (such as old man here) [indicating another picture of an elder] with his midjälpi - the dilly bag, ga spear and womera as authority to make decision ... about rom [law], about what is in the community ... they are the ones that make law for ... that particular clan, that particular yothu-yindi, märi-gutharra, waku-yapa.
... maybe sometimes they might want to ... decide this year we're gonna hold a ceremony ... whether[?] its a boy's circumcision ceremony (dhapi), this boy [indicating boy in picture with painting on his chest] ... [or whether] a couple of boys in this family are ready to have their boy's circumcision, their dhapi ceremony ... [in order to do prepare for this] we get people together ... parents of course, mothers... here that might be the case [showing photo of women sitting down] there might be a young boy within this family and they start to talk about ... the father is called over or the father ... decides that this boy is old enough to undergo [a] dhapi ceremony, so he comes along and sits down with family and they discuss together and agree 'ok you go and see the old men ... and this is what we want to do', so the senior elders decide further negotiations further decision and then grandparents, mother, family and young men are gathered together and say 'next week, we're gonna start up ceremony ... ' ... and they all agree. They might say. Some might say 'no its not right ... we'll ask ... other family groups over there on the other side so 'send some people over', the elders and the family send people over and sometimes it can be a long walk, people walk a long distance on a gurul ... they go out just on the ... other side of the river - there are family, so people go along and take the message 'there's a dhapi ceremony', or 'there is a ŋara ceremony' that these old men over here [indicating picture of senior men] want to begin this dry season. So everybody comes together and ... messages are sent and visits come, people come in a way through a form of a gurul, a visit, business talks.
Sometimes relatives but sometimes people come and visit just to tell everyday stories. And here [indicating picture of men walking] people are going out to talk about this dhapi ceremony.
After everything is all finalised with [the] old men, then dhapi ceremony goes on. Discipline and dhapi. [Its] all about what paintings are going on, whose taking the paintings, songs and ceremonies - that's all been decided by the elders in the clan, so here [indicating picture] a dhapi ceremony is being conducted. After its gone through for a long period of time, these arm bands [indicating arm bands on the picture of the painted boy] are made up by certain people in the clan, paintings have to be either the boy's clan group where he belongs from whether its Dhuwa or Yirritja - this particular case its a Dhuwa painting
...the gap between us and the government in Canberra or Darwin is getting bigger and bigger and there's no strength and power of how we need to join that together so we talk face to face and agree about things and argue about things and in the end come to an agreement where everybody agrees and things run smoothly and it works and happens for all of us not just what you think not just what how the balanda law thinks how things should run in Yolŋu community, through intervention, through the Shire, through Stronger Futures, that gurul has been weak.
"A gurul is a thing that makes a unity in family"
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