Remote communities, Australia

Delly and Boyd Stokes have dedicated their lives to working with remote communities and helping disadvantaged youth understand their role in upholding Indigenous culture in the modern day.

I first met Delson Stokes, of the Yabu Band, in the mid 1980s in Kalgoorlie. Delson was a TAFE student at Kalgoorlie College where I was head of Aboriginal Education.

His intent was to study music in Perth, which he did . He soon formed Yabu Band.  Yabu means a stone or rock and is the strength of Delly’s music. I have tried to learn some Wongatha language from his music.

The tones of Yabu Band are mild and ‘scratchy’  – and also very pretty, due to the clear changes of tonality from singer songwriter Delson, fully enhanced by the extra Australian desert rock rhythm from his brother, guitarist Boyd Stokes. They are very well complemented by performers from differing backgrounds. We must not however forget the energy and vitality emanating from the elders that Delson and Boyd summon to protect and guide them.

With lyrics like I hear a cry in the wind/A spirit in the tree/A signal from the heart, anyone of us who have listened to traditional Aboriginal stories know the significance of being beckoned, summoned or ‘sung’ by a call or a feeling. It is part of how the ancestors through the Dreaming can manifest themselves to the younger generation. They signal their presence and help their descendants make sense of the spiritual emotion that drives them. This in turn will provide a connection with their aspirations in life.

More examples of this are shown when we hear I need to be free/to speak my ancient tongue/to stay proud /Just want to stand beside you.

A Cry In The Wind is telling us how much the Yabu Band have gained from all the elders over several decades, going right back to the days of the Mt Margaret Mission where the elders were taken to as children.

Delson and Boyd Stokes perform this song as a tribute to Elder Josie Boyle (RIP), who documented the Wongatha language for all to use, respect and share while bonding together.

The perseverance to stay proud, to speak the ancient tongue and to be free although They changed the real me are achievements generated by the talented Yabu Band and the Stokes family who have kept up with their grandmother‘s advice to stand beside others in their community as peacemakers. ‘Rise up – reach out’, Delson sings ‘Let our voices be heard’

Palya ‘Lets walk together in harmony’ Peacemakers!


Yabu Band website
Yabu Band via TripleJ Unearthed

Stereo Story #589

I am a French-Australian linguist in Adelaide. I love writing about cultural experiences and spent years teaching English in a multi-lingual context. I have published an anthology and a memoir. I write flash fiction at the moment.