Oenpelli (NT)

Oenpelli (NT)

I asked the indigenous people of Australia about the Dream Paths. Very few people wanted to talk to me about it at all, and everyone answered differently. It's as if the Native was asking us about eternal life from a Christian point of view. I would have to tell him that we have a paradise from which we were expelled, a purgatory and hell. We look at our lives from the perspective of the past, we clumsily try to grasp the present and we think too often about the future. He wouldn't understand us. 

The indigenous have only one land, here and now, and one time in which the present is thoroughly intertwined with the past and in which there is no room for the future. For them, every day begins a world that is directly connected to the Dream Time of the Ancestors. This is about mythological references to the period of the creation of the world, which have continuity in the present. This cosmos remains not entirely clear to me, but the more I immerse myself in it, the greater satisfaction I feel, which slowly turns into a strong bond. What captured my imagination the most was the topic of Song Paths. I have already revealed that music is important to me. I spent several years with rock musicians as their manager, and I have been writing about jazz for many years. What is extraordinary and fascinating to me is that the First Peoples treat songs like a map, that they can sing their way through the bush. They are like birds singing their flight paths - hundreds, thousands of kilometers. The song, which has aesthetic significance all over the world and stimulates strong emotions, has a practical function for them.

– For us, conquering the world means expanding the map of Song – Amaroo, a honest and constantly smiling Aborigine whom I met in the Oenpelli settlement, in Kakadu National Park, tried to explain to me. I came here attracted by the landscapes of the East Alligator River floodplain. There were billabongs, i.e. lakes left after the flood in the wet season, filled with water lilies and... crocodiles. On a hot day, I was tempted to dive into them. Amaroo was a good conversationalist, he wanted to tell me something. His eyes were full of dignity. He spoke calmly, restrained, in a language that a white man could understand. I had the impression that he spoke to me as if I were a child, patiently and cheerfully. I could talk to him for hours, the Rainbow Serpent probably sent him to me.

– Once upon a time, each of us owned a piece of land. The deed of ownership was the Song, he said.

My imagination caught on to a song by Beata Kozidrak, which I don't really like.

– “There is no water in the desert…” I hummed to Amaroo and asked if I would go anywhere with this song.

– If it's good, it'll be on the charts in your country. If it's amazing, the world is waiting for you - Amaroo ironized, but I asked for it myself.

– You won't get far with this song because you didn't receive it ritually and forever, and its words mean nothing. You won't get anywhere with her, Amaroo explained and continued:

– Our Song can connect opposite ends of Australia, and often crosses language borders, i.e. other countries. The Song describes nature, and as I walk the Path of the Song, I gain power. It draws you in like a whirlpool of water, carries you like a motor. This has enormous POWER!

– I understand that you travel across the country with the Song on your lips. It's one melody. There is a finite, specific number of bars, only the words change - I tried to follow, but I didn't understand much of it.

– My verses are my homeland. I go and sing. I'm going because I sing. After singing the last verse, I reach the border of my territory.

– But the Song Line goes further, even thousands of kilometers. The same melody is sung in many languages! It's like learning the Odyssey, memorizing the map and traveling the world with it - I finally got it.

– Yes, just like you, but without a passport and visas I can cross the "border". My grandfather encouraged me to travel like this, but no further than two "countries" across the "border," he said.

*** Excerpt from Marek Tomalik's book "Australia, where flowers are born from fire" National Geographic 2019

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