Yunupingu, the former frontman of Yothu Yindi, has died.
I met him once, at a conference in Darwin about plans to create a project to record and digitize Aboriginal culture. The Aboriginal peoples of Australia may have had a culture that was sparse in terms of material artefacts but, as a group of preliterate cultures they were rich in stories and music recounting their history and beliefs.
Yunupingu was an impassioned and articulate speaker on behalf of his culture and heritage and the need to capture and preserve it, should it be lost due to indfference or the seductions of ipods and easily downloadable rap music. At the same time he was heavily invested in the idea of providing access to digital technologies to the youth of his community so that they could make and record their own music, rather than simply consume what they could download.
Over a drink after the conference he told me of his interest in the pre European contact links between his people, the Yolngu, and Makassar traders from Sulawesi, something which opened my eyes to the complexity of these trading links, and that is something for which I will always remain thankful to him.
Yunupingu was a passionate advocate for his people and for all the indigenous peoples of Australia. He will be sadly missed.