Mantaku

Words & Music: Bill Davis & the Ernabella Land Rights Choir, 1985
Bass/Tenor harmonies: David Abello, 1988

Mantaku means ‘our land’ in Pitjantjatjara, and when Ayers Rock was handed back to its traditional owners on 26th October 1985, the women of the Ernabella Land Rights Choir gave this song its premiere performance. With their permission it has become one of the most often-performed pieces in our repertoire. Its final question shows very well how alien European ideas about property are in Aboriginal Australia.

Lyrics:

Kulilaya!
Ngura nganampa manta wiru!
Nganampa tjamuku kamiku ngura iritinguru.
Kulilaya!
Manta milmilpatjara tjukurrpa alatjitu
Nyaku nyurra kulintjawiya?

Translation:

Listen to us!
Our country is very beautiful.
It is our grandfathers’ and grandmothers’ country from a long time ago.
Listen to us!
This is the sacred land of the dreamtime.

Why do you never understand?

There were additional words spoken, in both Pitjantjatjara and English, during the Ernabella choir’s first performance of the song in 1985. Only the English version of this additional text is given in our performances, but both are given below.

Ngayalu alatji rawa wankapayi
Nganampa manta mantjintjawayia
Nganana iluntjakutawara

I always talk like this Don’t take our country or we will die!

Yaltji yaltji ngayurutjamu
Dollartjara buyamellalpayi?

How can you buy my grandfather?

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Author: solidaritychoir

Activist choir in Sydney Australia

One thought on “Mantaku”

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