Posts Tagged Samoa
China has become the most favoured nation for the independent nation of Samoa. The Prime Minister of Samoa has considered the political and economic climatic change to the nascent economic superpower China as Samoa’s natural protector and most importantly an economic viable partner.
In terms of Australian perception this announcement has become not too surprising but more to the point of illustrating the changing attitudes by the Samoans towards Australian and New Zealand paternalism. The Australian perception to this attitude is one of indifference and apathy with a view that Samoan geo-political sphere of influence within the Pacific region whilst being important is not considered as an ideological obstruction to Australian and New Zealand geo-political interests.
It is highly probable that the Chinese will consider Samoa as merely a regional geo-political ally from now and well into the future. In general China will consider Samoa in reciprocal terms as a trusted ally more so than Australia.
Australian intelligence agencies however will not look too favourably of Samoan foregin policy and will consider Samoa as a likely anti-Australian influence within regional politics.
Dr Stephen Henningham a regional intelligence specialist within the Office of National Assessments (ONA) has been the High Commissioner to Samoa for the past few years and would have considered the Samoan situation with some regional authority, understanding moreover the peculiarity of the Samoan character. Unlike the Samoan intelligence services whom seem less astute in profiling their counterparts within the region they have become less subtle in their regional positioning announcing a pro-Chinese position.
In general, Australians will consider this announcement by the Samoan government has acceptable from an AUSAID level in sofaras, the recent announcements of foreign aid reductions to the Pacific Island region will be considered as timely convenient. The passing of the paternalism buck so to speak to China is acceptable to Australia’s AUSAID. It will not burden the Australian taxpayer in the least and hopefully in the near future the Samoans will consider migrating their people to China as well and not to New Zealand, Australia and America.
Brisbane Australia. 4th June 2012
It has been ten years today, the 4th March, 2002, when my late mother, Ms. Tumema Siala Tufuga, had died from a belated diagnosed Cervical Cancer, at the Logan Hospital, Loganlea, Queensland, Australia.
It has been an interesting journey for my mother whom had initially migrated to New Zealand, at the age of 18, soon after the declaration of Independence of Samoa, just over a year or so earlier, from New Zealand, which was in 1962. My mother Mema Tufuga as a somewhat naive 18 year old had journeyed alone to New Zealand, in 1964.
My late mother was born in a village which had a large inlet harbour, called Matavi Harbour, and the village was called Asau, in Savai’i, Samoa. Specifically, my late mother Mema Tufuga was born in a place called Utuloa, Asau. Utuloa itself, is the part of Asau in which has situated a deep sea wharf, an airstrip, and a saw mill, all on my late mother’s grandmother’s, or Nive Tufuga’s, land. My great grandmother le Susuga Nive Tufuga, whom had died in 1954. The Beach Fo’a, to the northeast of Asau, is also part of her land as well.
My mother’s mother, Fuifui Tufuga, also interned in the Beenleigh cemetery, May 19th, 2009, whose parentage was from Matavai, Asau, hence, the title of Tufuga, which has been assumed by all of her offprings, is from Matavai, Asau, instead of Utuloa, whence my late mother is said to have been born (1).
My mother, Mema Tufuga, (born as Mema Tauvae (2)) had been a product of the bilateral migration treaty between New Zealand and Samoa then known as the Friendship Treaty, in which, as a teenager of 18 years of age, she had travelled to New Zealand without any requirements of a visa or a working visa to live and work in New Zealand.
During this time of initial settlement in New Zealand my mother had connected with her Samoan peers within the Christchurch community including scholars from Samoa, whom had included my father. My father was a scholar from Samoa attending school at a prestiged Saint Bedes College, then obtaining a scholarship to the Canterbury University, in Christchurch, New Zealand. Having completed his studies he was bonded to his government and was instructed to return to Samoa. His legacy was, of course, my sister and I. My father went to a Catholic school in New Zealand, but, in Samoa, he was a Congregationalist and still is today.
From a religious point of view, my mother was a devout christian, as many Samoans are. She was born in a village which were predominately Weslyan Methodists, but, having moved to Apia, she had adoped her aunty’s Catholic religion in Tuloto, Apia. She then migrates to New Zealand as a converted Papist, which is only short term only, since she is a protestant from Asau to begin with, and also with the fact that her biological father, Tauvae Tuiletufuga, was a member of the Lotu Poesi Congregational Church, in Apia, Samoa.
During the mid 1960s, primarily due to her love of singing and the soulful music of the Evangelical churches my mother quickly embraces the Charismatic faiths of the Assemblies of God Church, in Christchurch, New Zealand, she converts to the AOG movement until she arrives in Brisbane, in 1981, with the Samoan version of the AOG missionary zeal. In the early 1990s, after having a period of religious isolation living in Beenleigh, from the Samoan AOG s support networks, my late mother converts to the Seventh Day Adventists, but this is for only a couple of years, or until, I had returned from my educational travels abroad, in New Zealand and Samoa, and I had reminded her of her religious origins within the AOG. She quickly returns to the fold and tried to initiate a localised Pentacostal church until she becomes ill and bedridden.
In the meantime, in 1981, having worked and being a mother throughout the 1970s, my mother decided to travel to Australia with her relatives and fellow church colleagues, this was in June 1981. With her came her religious zeal.
She was a qualified seamstress/dressmaker amongst many of her talents, and she was employed, tentatively, at that moment, as a textile worker, in Brisbane, and was considered a valued worker by the Lee Cooper clothing company, in that she was asked to become a permanent employee. Hence, the decision made by mother to remain in Brisbane from 1981 permanently.
My sister and I arrived, initially, only for a holiday in December 1981. Mum refused to repatriate to New Zealand. Begrdugingly, my sister and I, feeling very out of our cultural comfort zones accepted our fate of having to migrate to live in Australia until Mum changes her mind at least it was hoped so then. It was not until my late mother’s death did I reluctantly decide to remain in Australia permanently and to initiate naturalisation proceedings.
As time went by mum worked tirelessly and then during the 1990s she was made redundant and at the time she had received a miniscule severence payment during the infamous Keating’s gibe as the period in which it was the Recession we had to have, then the Lee Cooper clothing textile company was forced to move operations to New South Wales. My mother refused to leave sunny Queensland primarily due to her devotion to her church committments, and, the fact that she had gotten used to Brisbane. In 1986, we moved to Beenleigh, in 2000, we moved to Crestmead. We have remained here ever since. In 2002, after an inexplicable medical prognosis of her condition, my mother is finally diagnosed as having advanced cervical cancer, and succombs to this disease, and three weeks after this revelation she died.
A very annoying and a seemingly unfulfilled journey.
What a journey it has been, indeed.
Logan City Qld.
4th March 2012.
1 .Most modernday births in Asau are now in the Sataua hospital, but, during the early 20th century, most births were home births including my mothers.
2. The late Tauvae Tuiletufuga, from Apia village, in Apia, Samoa, was the father of late mother. Tauvae Tuiletufuga is the son of Le Afioga Tuiletufuga Liu, the High Chief of Apia, and a Samoan Police Officer.
On December 31st, 2011, Samoa caught up with the world and cheated time itself by erasing 24hours from their calender. December 30, 2011, did not exist in Samoa. (1)
The implications for Samoans is a transitional dateline shift west of the dateline inline with Tonga which was, hitherto, the premiere nation in the world to welome in the new year. Now, the Samoans, are finally on the same side of the dateline as Tonga. The age old jeers and jibes by the Tongans of the Samoans being the last place on earth in literal time, has become nullified. Samoans have adopted the Caesarian prerogative and would change time and the Gregorian Calender to suit the Samoans.
Julius Caesar had created the modern Julian Calender which was accepted until the 16th century whence the Pope Gregory XIII changed the course of time in line with the Roman Catholic Christian calender. The affront to a Roman Caesar can not be assuaged as the new Roman Caesar under the guise of a Pope and ahead of the Roman Catholic church would denigrate the Imperial Pax Romana and would repeal the Julian Calender for the Gregorian Calender. (2)
The Samoans have felt compelled to be inspired by the Gregorian precedence and would amend the Gregorian Calender even further to suit their own grandiose designs. Henceforth, the Caesarian prerogative of the Samoan has been decreed and so shall come to pass, Samoa will change time itself. The audacity of the Samoans to change the dateline and to change time itself there is no other global power that can surpass this feat now and, perhaps, forever.
E moni lava le mataútia o le pulega o le malo Samoa. E le mafaia ona suia e seisi malo i le lalolagi atoa. Aua, e moni lava e pule lava le Samoa.
Happy New Year ma faáfetai lava.
Brisbane 31st December 2011
The weapon is unique in design and is particular to the Samoan warrior culture. The history of the origins of the weapon has its mythical origins like a Shaka Zulu mini series whereby a warrior Prince forges a weapon from some mythical diety. However, Samoans are less superstitious but will nevertheless attribute the origins of the weapon to two brothers Tunu ma Fata in a time when the Samoans were struggling with their war for independence against the imperial rule of the Vava’uan Tongans.
The liberation of the Samoans from Tongan colonisation would, inadvertantly, be attributed to two factors. Firstly, the Tunu ma Fata twins, whom would later on become the first Malietoa royal line of Samoa, and, secondly, the weapon they had invented, Le Nifo Oti.
The functionality of the weapon is ingenius and it is unique to Samoan military history. The weapon’s primary advantage was the particularity of the design. A blade like weapon which had two sides with primarily opposite functions. On the one side, there is a serrated edge with a hook and on the other a smooth edged blade. The hilt is designed as a fulcrum, to give balance to the blade, and the ability for the warrior to either use the weapon singlehandedly or to grip the handle with both hands. The movement of engagement is primarily to approach the enemy in squarely in a frontal close quarter assault, with the initial movement to ‘parry’ with the initial strike by the enemy’s weapon, and to effect a lethal counter offensive technique. This primary engagement requires the actual contact of combat weapons, either a Club or a Staff, before the Nifo Oti becomes lethally effective. Initially, the parry movement is to allow the Nifo Oti to make actual contact then to ‘catch’ the enemy’s weapon, by latching the weapon on the serrated side with the final movement, whence once the enemy’s weapon slides the weapon through to the hooklike latch, the hook, in turn catches the enemy’s weapon, and in the process, disengages the weapon with a swift deft movement by the Samoan warrior. The enemy’s weapon will be flung assunder renderring the enemy weaponless and defenseless. Once disarmed the enemy is without a weapon and is vulnerable to the smooth edged blade of the weapon which is then initiated will lacerate and dismember the fallen enemy. The opposite side of the weapon is then utilised which will lacerate the enemy and will severe limbs and in particular to decapitate the fallen disarmed foe.
Hypothetically, when initiated by a Nifo Oti specialist of the highest order, the Samoan warrior, may in fact be able to disarm a person armed with a sword, a Katana, with the same close counter technique as aforementioned with equal lethal potency.
The movie release of The Orator: O le Tulafale was for Samoans throughout the globe a very touching nostalgic journey of the Fa’aSamoa and for the non-Samoan a window into the pecularised Fa’aSamoa culture.
The opening scene sets the ambient surrounding of a tropical backdrop, the mountains silhouettes and acts as a juxtaposition to a deep iridescent blue skyline. The heavy foreboding pelting of the tropical raindrops spashes upon the Yam leaves blotting the brown earthiness of Samoan soil. It is sometime during the spasmodic rainy season. The Samoan Pacific Isolation seems to be emphatic with the social isolation of the protagonist character, whom, paradoxically, is not the Tulafale, but, rather, it is the wife of the Tulafale. Although the protagonist is meant to be the Dwarf Orator, Fiaula Sanote, the overarching theme is one of belonging and the sense of ‘lotonu’u’, (village loyalty) ma ‘lotoaiga’ (loyalty to family), a theme which was not overly recognised by many outsider movie critics. The overarching theme of love and family bonds seems to have been articulated well and truly within this movie. The motif of Matai Authority is emphasised with the denial of vestiges of power to the Dwarf and his emasculation due not only to his physical size but also to the lack of cultural, fa’aSamoa, (Samoan Culture), authority being a commoner and a son of a deceased chief. The only exception to the rule is for amalgamated chiefly status (O le Aiga O Tupu, the royal highness titles). The central theme of bequethed hereditory authority, ie, inheriting customary landrights, is not a particular aspect of the Samoan culture which is clearly revealed in this movie. Why is this a central aspect of the Samoan culture? It is likened to the right to chiefly status, in that, the right to rule is earned, “O le ala o le pule o le tautua”, (The right to authority and rulership is through service rendered). As was clearly indicated in this movie, the Dwarf was a son of a high chief whom had died and was buried as was revealed throughout the movie. The dwarf is not afforded the same rights as was bequethed to his late father and was denied the customary landrights. The dwarf’s wife, Va’aiga, played by Tausili Pushparaj, is in fact a banished woman from a distant village, she displayed a very strong will which was considered as unacceptable by the patriarchical chiefs of her home village. She is considered as a very strong willed woman and very articulate, but, she is sickly and is dying from some incurable disease. She is adamant in never returning to her family, in part due to her banishment, and, in part also, due to the fact that she is married to her Dwarfish husband. Unfortunately, Va’aiga, is a flawed character, she is ashamed of her dwarfish husband, whom remains hidden when her brother, Poto, a Tulafale, an Orator, and the family, arrive to cajole her back to her home village. Va’aiga consider’s her husband as a perceived ‘Luma’, (a public humiliation), due not only to his Dwarfish appearance but to his emasculation impoverishment.
The Orator, is also a story of the emasculation of manhood, and the strength of the faletua, (wife), which strengthens the espousal bonds to empower the aiga, or the wedlock househod from the paroxysms of an inimical environment, the loss of customary landrights is indicative of Samoan cultural emasculation. The rite to power for a Samoan is to claim their landrights which can only be proffered through the fa’amatai (Chiefly status) of all heads of the family, albeit, the husband. The Samoan culture is made of two distinctive groups, the feudalised Chiefly class, the Matai, and the commoners, the untitled men and womenfolk, or the (Aualuma (women) and Aumaga (men)). The Chiefs, are divied not only the seniority but also of specific roles, the Matai Ali’i is a High Chief and the head of the village council of chiefs, he or she, is not considered as an Orator but is the sole ruler of the village. The Orator, (the Tulafale), is the talking chief, whom stands armed with the symbols of office, Fue, (the fly whisk), and the most important symbol of all, the talking staff, (Le To’oto’o). The talking chief can not address the village chiefs and or a village audience with any authority without having these symbols of office especially the staff, for it is the manifest symbol of the talking chief. The conferment of oratory chiefly status can only be achieved through the appropriate saufa’i (or chiefly ceremony), this is ritualised through the kava ceremony and the blessings by a quorum of village chiefs especially the high chief.
The Samoan people, like many cultures, are as facile and materialistic, and this is indicative with the cultural Oratory bartering exchanges, and in particular, with the passing of wands of dollar notes, indiscretely placed in fattened envelopes, and given to each respective Orator (Tulafale ma le ‘au malaga) and his entourage, but, what makes Samoans unique, is the valued significance of fine mats( I’eToga) and a mysterious exchanges, which is considered culturally valued moreso than the fattened wands of notes in envelopes. The malaga will come barring gifts, or si’i, which is expected to be reciprocated by the hosts, that is to say, the host is expected to give something for them to return to their village with as a gesture of shared burden or celebration.
Perhaps, the most puzzling aspect of this movie is the Ifoga ceremony, (forgiveness), which has been considered as somewhat of a slight exaggeration, with the thugs remaining outside of the house of Saili (the Dwarf) until he allows them to be pardoned for attacking him with rocks. The failure of the audience to understand this scene is in part due to the lack of understanding of the Samoan justice system. When a criminal culpable act has been committed the victim, upon the approval of the council of chiefs, may have the power to enforce the law of the village, which may be through an enforcement of a sala, or punishment, or a fine, and at worse, the perpetrator of the crime or malfeance, may be banished (Tuli ese mai le nu’u) from the village. The ifoga, is the process of reparation and forgiveness, which may include monetary compensation likened to western societies, or if not the ifoga requires ietoga and other compensatory means so as to recompense the loss of property and or bodily harm to the aggrieved.
The complication of the plot of the movie seems to have been emphasised with the coincidental untimely death of Va’aiga whilst the ifoga was taking place. This climatic moment seems to have confused the audience because the ifoga ceremony was unrelated to the inadvertent death of Va’aiga.
Va’aiga’s death becomes the climax of the story and the cometh the man of our protagonist Saili. The somewhat macabre fight for her corpse for buriel seems rather bizzare from a Westerner perspective. Samoans, value their loved ones in life and in death. The Samoans would bury their dead in monuments in front or around their homes as a symbol of connection of loved ones with their land. It is unusual for Samoans to cremate their loved ones it is almost considered as an insult to cremate anyone unless it is an enemy.
The motif of the ‘Ie Measina’, a finemat, woven so meticulously which takes months and even sometimes years of arduous and tidious work primarily by women is considered of the highest cultural symbol for not only the Samoans but also to the Tongans. The exhibition of the Ie measina is displayed likened to a Picasso painting for the villagers to admire. The finer the woven mat the more valued it is. Throughout the final moments of Va’aiga’s life she spends weaving the fine mat, it is her message to her people and a passing gift to her family and village, a testament symbol of her legacy of her lasting commitment to her family and her village to the very last gasp of her life.
The shortcomings of this movie may be considered as few from a Samoan point of view, from a non-Samoan point of view there are some demystifing nuances and aspects of the Samoan culture which may be considered particular to the Samoan. Absent from the storyline is the overwhelming influence of Judeao-Christianity which is very central to the Samoan culture.
Overall, Tusi Tamasese has done an unprecedented service to the Samoan culture and to the diaspora of Samoans throughout the world whom can identify so acutely with the nuances and peculiarities of the Samoan characteristic.
Finally, the Margaret Mead School of though would find some very identifiable sexual license truism of the Samoan behaviour which is also revealed ever so subtley in this movie.
Ma le fa’aloalo lava