Wangga is one of the three main ceremonial traditions carried on at Wadeye today. It is a style of didjeridu-accompanied song normally composed and owned by speakers of Daly languages (e.g. Marritjevin, Marri Amu, Mendhe, Emi, Batjamalh), whose traditional country lies to the north of Wadeye (see Marett 2005). At Wadeye, the main wangga repertory performed is the Walakandha wangga, named after the Marri Tjevin spirits who gave songs to songmen Stan Mullumbuk, Thomas Kungiung, Martin Warrigal Kungiung, Wagin Dumoo, Philip Mullumbuk and Les Kundjil. This set is carried on today by Colin Worambu and Charles Kungiung. Marri Amu wangga songs from the ma-yawa song-set were also performed occasionally at Wadeye by Charlie Brinken and Maurice Ngulkur, and visiting wangga songmen from Belyuen have also brought song-sets in Batjamalh, Emmi and Mendhe languages to be performed as part of ceremonial activities at Wadeye. There are also some old recordings of a set of wangga songs composed by Joe Birrarri, a Murriny Patha speaker, who also composed djanba songs, the genre more typically associated with his Dimirnin clan. Birrarri's wangga songs were received in a dream in which he was visited by a yawa, the spirit of a deceased Marri Amu songman. Because he could not speak Marri Amu himself, Birrarri could not translate the songs into Murriny Patha so the words of the song remained unintelligible to both Birrarri and his audience, and after he passed away in 1976 the songs ceased to be performed at Wadeye.
Photo: Mark Crocombe.