“WANJOO, kwobodak koorda.” (Welcome, beautiful friends).
A Perth-based choir is using the power of music to try and protect the endangered Noongar language of WA’s south west, and is pushing to get the message into more Perth schools.
Madjitil Moorna started the Noongar Songs in Schools project last year, mentoring young Noongar performers such as Candice Lorrae, Kristel Kickett, Tori Oakley and Kobi Morrison as they lead Noongar song workshops in schools.
Choir coordinator Jo Randell says they’re on the hunt for more young performers to take advantage of the interest the program has generated in Perth’s schools.
She says some they’ve performed at have had no indigenous students at all, while others have been packed.
Mr Randell says the Noongar kids not only learn about their culture and language, but having their peers join in while having fun with the songs has helped to foster a sense of identity, respect, pride and belonging.
Kids get the chance to tackle a lullaby, chant and anthem in Noongar.
“Singing is the easiest way to learn the language,” Ms Randell says, adding they’re also there to support teachers who want to foster a love of the local language but have no knowledge, or may be anxious about offending traditional owners with their efforts.
Noongar elder Marie Taylor sings with the choir and feels honoured people want to learn the language.
“The choir is made up of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and if anything illustrates reconciliation in action, it’s the choir. White fellas learning our language makes me feel proud and honoured,” she said.
Schools are reaching out for more cultural content but Madjitil Moorna need more performers to keep up with the demand. For more information or to join the choir log onto http://www.madjitilmoorna.org.au
by HOLLY COOMEY