By Lefaoali'i Dion Enari
Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa (Samoa language week) is not only a time to celebrate, but also reflect upon and address our language issues. Although Samoan is the second most spoken language in Auckland, and the third most spoken in New Zealand, it is experiencing decline. The decrease in language usage is both visible in statistics and everyday interactions, particularly among those who are New Zealand born. Sadly, if we are not careful, ‘it will die’ in 3 generations. The fact that many Samoans would not be able to understand this article if it were written in Samoan, is in itself concerning.
Before looking at ways to sustain the Samoan language, I believe we must first remember why it’s important. As I reflect upon my discussions with Matai, scholars, families and educators, we were unanimous, in our belief that it was a measina (treasure). We also identified this measina as the window into the Samoan world. It is through our language, that we are able to fully access, marinate, and explore the wisdom we inherit.…more
** Trigger Warning - this story that you're about to read contains references to topics such as cyber bullying and youth suicide **
A recent family tragedy has highlighted the need for greater awareness and positive action, writes Nah Folasa.
Just this week our family was devastated by the suicide of my 15 year old cousin. Her crime: A victim of on line bullying.
Like most Samoan families we live close. There is always an intergenerational mix around the dinner table, we share our love, food, land and resources and we help one another.
As a family we cannot ever understand the hopelessness which she must have felt and the only way to escape this harassment was to take her own life. We never contemplated that this would ever occur in our family.…more
Last night the Samoan head of State Afioga Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, revoked the results of the general election held on the 9th of April and has instructed the nation to vote again on the 21st of May due to the continued deadlock in Samoa (both parties are on 26 MPs each)
The leader of FAST, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa does not agree with this decision and has spoken out about actions that she calls wrong and unlawful - “We denounce this behaviour, and the misuse of resources and public officials to hold on to power. We must follow this process without diversion or trickery,” she said in a press briefing.
However, the caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has commended the Head of State for his decision to call a fresh election and said that his party leaves the results of the next election "Up to the Lord"
Journalist Va'ai Nah Folasa asks the question "What if Gods plan doesn't suit your own personal plan?"
Last week I wrote an article on Samoa's spiritual and constitutional foundation on God.…more
By Floris Niu, Initiative Creator/Cocoa Farmer for Ms Sunshine Organic Farms
Samoa’s first Women’s Farming Calendar, featuring 12 cocoa and mixed-crop growers, their stories, and the attempt to revive traditional or organic farming practices, at grassroots level.
Farming by the Moon:
The ancients observed how the moon affected the tides and by tracking it alongside the sun, they developed calendars to predict agricultural rhythms. The sun was the life giving force, but the moon played an important role in predicting rainfall.
Polynesians understood and moved with the Moon as it proved to them that everything is connected. They followed the Moon phases to plant certain crops and to fish in particular ways or at a particular time, to prevent over fishing.
They thrived under the guidance of the Moon’s harmony with the rest of Nature and existence.…more
By Meli Tulewa
Bula Vinaka. I am Meli Tulewa, a former Flight attendant with Fiji Airways.
When I was young, whenever Fiji Airways was hiring Flight attendants, one of my friends would bring the news and we would then share our exciting dreams of becoming flight attendants and create our own happiness with imagination.
Many people who knew me always thought that this was impossible because I was born with a medical condition or birth defect called congenital talipes equinovarus (commonly known as ‘clubfoot’) on my right foot which could result in me walking on the side of my foot. Thanks to my mother, Kelera Tulewa who raised me single-handed, she decided to put me up for surgery while I was only 8 months old. Since then, I walked without any issue even though my right leg was slightly thinner than my left leg. Growing up, I never liked to highlight or tell people about my condition unless they see it for themselves and ask me. I grew up being laughed at and people even made fun of my leg.…more
By Vaai Nah Folasa
As I have written before, there are a number of lessons arising from our recent general election.
The OEC has done an amazing job in accommodating special voters, counting and re-checking every individual vote and has done so professionally, with thoroughness and efficiency. But can we make the process more efficient? Are there areas needing further reform? Here are a few ideas.
1. Voting does not decide the winner. In the lead up to the election there were numerous changes to the electoral system, to constituency boundaries and even to eligibility criteria. Voters were made to register for their appropriate seat and new electoral rolls finalized. Yet in spite of all these changes to close loop-holes why is it that the Court becomes the final arbiter?
2. Bribery - The Art of Giving and Taking. Even before the final votes were tallied both parties were jostling to lodge challenges of bribery and treating. Knowledge of this appears to be wide spread and even acceptable to some degree.…more
By Vaai Nah Folasa
More than a week after the general election and Samoa is no closer to knowing who will govern us for the next 5 years. Last night it was announced that an additional seat would be added to Parliament to meet Samoa's minimum quota for female candidates. An HRPP candidate had been appointed to make up the apparent shortfall. This morning Tuala Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio (pictured above - photo credit Samoa Observer) announced his decision to join the FAST party which means there's still a 26/26 tie.
The OEC has done an amazing job in accommodating special voters, counting and re-checking every individual vote and has done so with thoroughness and efficiency. But still there is no outright winner.
So at this point, what do we know?
1. The electoral process remains faulty. In the lead up to the election there were numerous changes to the electoral system, to constituency boundaries and even to eligibility criteria.…more
By Va'ai Nah Folasa
Samoa's 2021 will go down in history as a true game changer.
The official results have the two major parties each with 25 seats and an Independent candidate may yet hold the balance of power.
It is expected that there will be a flurry of legal challenges. Leaders of both parties have indicated this. Ultimately it will be the Court who is the final arbiter.
Regardless of the final tally, Samoa's political landscape has changed forever.
It is clear that after some 40 years in power the HRPP no longer have ultimate and unfettered control in parliament. Whether voters were expressing outright dissatisfaction or whether they just believed it was time for a change remains to be seen.
It is also evident that Samoa is more than happy to be led by a woman. Fiame Naomi Mataafa held her seat at Lotofaga uncontested and went on to become leader of the new FAST party.…more
By Va'ai Nah Folasa
Cover photo credit: Office of the Electoral Commission Samoa
While Samoa awaits the final counting of votes and the inevitable legal challenges and appeals, what lessons have we learned from Friday's election?
In no particular order...
1. Never underestimate the power of social media. While Government media outlets (2AP and the Savali) touted the HRPP line, the mainstream press played a cautious approach often several days late with breaking issues. Meanwhile social media was active, timely and while not always correct managed to create debate and focus issues at a mass level. FAST embraced various platforms skillfully and effectively. The belated creation of Facebook page by HRPP was too late, too little and missed the mark completely.
2. Understand that youth have a voice and are confident that their vote can make a difference. Previous elections have witnessed several generations of a family voting the same traditional way. Today's youth are informed (refer above), interested and have priorities which differ to older generations. Clearly they are not afraid to express that and seek change.
Take your Shakespeares and Stevensons, give me our Hauʻofas and Teaiwas.
The first time I laid awake at night after reading a book I was around 17 years old. It was the day I finished “Poems from a Marshallese Daughter” by Kathy Jetnil Kijiner. I kept running her words through my mind and visualizing the stories she told all night. It was the first time I read a book with stories that I could feel. Not in a “Naww I wanted Bella to end up with Jacob now I’m sad” way, but in an “I want to get up in the middle of the night and go hug my mom” way. It came from this place in me that knew Kathy and her words were linked to me by the same ocean. I had never felt that way about a book or its author before. Then it dawned on me. Meyer, Austen, Fitzgerald, and Collins... I had only ever read work from white authors.…more