Westwind: Djalu’s Legacy is an important documentary about cultural survival amongst the Yolngu people of the remote North East Arnhem Land in northern Australia. Director Ben Strunin spent time developing a relationship with the well known Yolngu leader Djalu Gurruwiwi. Djalu is a renowned Yidaki (Yolngu word for the Didgeridoo) player and one of the last wisdom keepers of the Yolngu people. Westwind tells the story of Djalu’s struggle to keep his people’s culture and the sacred Yidaki songlines passed down to him by his ancestors alive by passing it down to the next generation before it dies with him and is lost forever.
Djalu is considered one of the best Yidaki players in Australia and is an elder of his community and guardian of his people’s lore. As a fierce advocate of Yidaki music Djalu has said that all of our worldly problems could be solved if everybody learnt to play the Yidaki. He performs Yidaki healings and travels the world showcasing his Yidaki music.
The documentary can be purchased at:
Yidaki is the central instrument in the cultural and ceremonial practices of the Yolngu People of North East Arnhem Land. This remote indigenous community is made up of several language groups and clans each with a sacred relationship or “totemic embrace” with a specific animal spirit. The sacred relationship between the Yolgu people, their land and the animal spirits that co-inhabit this land is spoken through the ancient sounds of the Yidaki.
For a comprehensive resource on Yolngu culture take a look at yidakistory.com. An exploration of this website is a must for Didgeridoo players worldwide who want to gain more insight into the culture that created the instrument. It is also a portal for purchasing authentic, fair-trade didgeridoos made by the Yolngu people themselves.