Posts Tagged United States
Samoan cultural tradition in the sport of pugilism seems to have become cemented within Australian sporting culture with young 16 year old Jai Opetaia, demonstrating a genetic pedigree from his Samoan heritage which has become most evident in late July, 2011, Junior world championship, in Kazakhstan.
On the flipside, a bucket list pugilist such as I, at a tender age of 43, I have vowed to enter the boxing ring within Queensland to do some long awaited venting.
Pugilism is something in which most, if not all, Samoan young lads have had an occssion to have experienced in their youth either at village level, or in the rough and tumble working class suburbia, within New Zealand, United States, or Australia.
It seems genetically predetermined as much as rugby union and rugby league is considered as the divinely inspired contact sport for many Toa Samoans, Tongans, Maori etc. However, as a Samoan, it behoves all other enthused and eager Pugilist in the making within the humble villages and or the heckling Suburbs to feel inspired, compelled, and impelled, to take up the challenge and to become a modernday warrior.
In 2012, the year of the Olympics, many young aspirant eyes will be hoping upon hope to become an Olympian and to pursue glory in London, or, if not, then in Rio De Janiero within the foreseeale future.
From a Samoan perspective, the year 2012, will mark the 50th year of Samoan independence from the imperial military occupation and colonial rule from New Zealand in 1962.
Moreover, the diaspora of many Samoans throughout the globe will be a time of cultural reflection and a self appraisal and assessment of our achievements and self development and particularly as a unique global cultural identity. We have become citizens of the world within our respective nations and have only our ethnicity to bind our race as an expression of our particularity to the world.
2012, is a year to be proud of being a Samoan no matter where you live and who the master you serve.
15th January, 2012
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
I am proud to say that Forever Faithful have arrived and will be stationed in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.
The tragedy is the pathetic Commonwealth Games being held in the Gold Coast, which is a Australian Constitutional Monarchists (ACM), conspiracy to maintain the British Empire Games alive and relevant to the Commonwealth member nations. It is annoying for Republicans everywhere.
In consoloation for the Republicans, Semper Fidelis, will arrive and be stationed within Australia in the near future. They will, inadvertantly, offer psychological and material support for the Australian Republicn Movement. However, the primary objective is for Semper Fidelis to offer material and psychological support for NORCOM, and joint military training for jpint operational exercises ie Tandem Thrust and Talisman Saber, however, propaganda wise they will proffer a political support for the Australian Republican Movement in the near future
The Australian Republican movement (ARM) will find a valued ally with the arrival of pro-ARM military presence within Australia.
Being behind enemy lines has been very disconcerting for Samoan Australians whom have been subjugated by British Imperial rule and subsequent oppression. I am proud to see the arrival of United States Marine Corp. They are an important presence in order to shore up border security with NORCOM and, in the near future, to support the domestic transition to an Australian Republic.
The United States will provide a physical presence that will instil confidence amongst Australian Republicans here and abroad.
The Samoan troop numbers within the respective United States military units currently serving within Iraq have officially been given their recall orders from their commander in chief President Barak Obama. The current Samoan troop numbers are not fully disclosed due to ethnicity classifications of US military servicemen are subsumed to Nationality of servicemen, therefore, Samoan military servicemen included within the United States Armed forces are not disclosed according to ethnicity to the public.
However, the respective companies within the 100Bn, 442nd Regiment within the US Army Reserve, has been dominated by Samoan military personnel and have been in active duty within Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Samoans as an ethnic military culture have proffered military assets to the respective military forces globally including the New Zealand Army units, including the elite SAS, The US military services including Delta Force, US Navy, including the notorious or the famous Navy SEALS, US Air force as front line fighter pilots, including colonel Snow an F15 Eagle pilot etc.
The Samoan military culture is very entrenched and a proud culture of fighting men that has been embedded within the Toa culture of most Polynesian cultures, this cultural tradition has been bestowed to the Samoan serving within the Australian Armed forces as well as the French Foreign Legion.
The fighting Samoan Toa is indeed a creature of habit, a bellicose weapon, and a ruthless menace to his enemies, if utilised effectively.
Within an indifferent and myopic society the Samoan is stereotyped as either a rugby player, a menial semi skilled worker, an expected pub brawler (also known as a “Lout” according to the Queensland justice stigma), a staunch christian, and is purportedly expected to be a lethargic obese diabetic. Often the warrior stereotype is considered as atypical and is more associated with a distant Toa culture of yesteryear.
In an age known, disdainfully by the Allan Duff school of thought, as the “Once were Warriors” dying race Eugenic myth. The Eugenic paradigm which has been inculcated by the Allan Duff school of thought has besmirched and tarnished the cultural reputation of many Polynesian cultures as well as the Maori culture. The bigotted stereotype has become the ideal for the stereotypical stigma that has denied many sporting, employment and career opportunities for many Polynesian groups within New Zealand society rippling outwardly to Australia and America. The antiheroism of the bellicose Samoan or the Jake Heke (Maori version) of the “Once were Warrior” has become a twisted truism that has left many Samoans, Tongans and Maori with very little breathing space to arise from the burden of stereotype and stigma.
Closer to home. The Australian Samoan, nowadays, is indeed a person whom is keen to reaffrim the “Once were Warrior” tradition, particularly viewed in their interest in contact sport, ie, rugby martial arts and pugilism, and would wish to continue to live this truism of their cultural trait within their adopted host society.
The Australian Samoan is integrating with the indigenous and mainstream Australian society and is subsumed by the overwhleming tyranny of the masses and competing pluralism of a multicultural Australian soceity which may be carbon copied anywhere within American society and New Zealand.
The global internet has created a bridge network through which all Samoans are proffered an opportunity to connect with each other and to share notonly their particular cultural origins but also their daily lives inspite and despite their diaspora.
Fa’afetai lava i le faitau.
27th October, 2011