Karrbarda (Long Yam) by Willie NabulwadNew

Karrbarda (Long Yam)

The heart-shaped leaves of karrbarda, the long yam (Dioscorea transversa) are similar to mankinjdjek, the “cheeky yam” (Dioscorea bulbifera). The cheeky yam is poisonous unless properly prepared. But the old people know how to tell the leaves apart. Women used to dig up long yams with kunbalkbu (digging sticks), but now they usually use kubba (“crow bars”, sticks fashioned from bits of metal). They go into the forest, to the places they know the yams will be, dig them up and cook them in the ashes of the fire. We still eat them, like we always used to. But the young girls today often don’t know how to recognise the leaves of the long yam, only the old women.
Karrbarda is also the subject of a well known song cycle, still performed in Gunbalanya today.

Manbu karrbarda makka karakelrohrok mankinjdjek kohbakohbanj bedman kabirrirakelburrbun manbu karrbarda dja mankinjdjek. Korroko birrikarungi kunbalkbu dja bolkkime kubba wirlmurrng nawu balanda marnbom kabirrikarung karrbarda nawu daluk. Kabirrire manberrk kore kungarre kore bedman kabirribolkburrbun kubolkkuken kore karrbarda karri manwern wanjh kabirrire kabirrikarung manwern kabirrimang kabirriwilkdeng ngarringun bu korrokoni. Dja bolkkime larrk minj kabirriburrbun kabirrirakelburrbun manbu karrbarda nawu yawkyawk daluhdaluk kabirrirakelwakwan manbu karrbarda. Birrikudji kohbakohbanj dabborrabbolk morlehmorlenj kabirrirakelburrbun manbu karrbarda.

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