“Judge not, lest ye be judged.” As with all my writing, I attempt to tell stories based upon my own “true life” experiences. The intent is not to bring the presumed guilty to justice; nor laud the innocent. Simply to share those experiences in hopes of expanding knowledge and understanding for my readers. A sharing of those life experiences as seen through my eyes and presented with my best efforts. Honesty and morality are relative issues; history is solely within the purvey of the writer of a given story through nuance, opinion, viewpoint and personal character.
Samoans are a proud, deliberate, insular, simple people, limited by the exposure and understanding they have of the greater world. Within their psychology and attitude they hold an idea that eventually, the entire world will come to embrace the Fa’a Samoa (Samoan Way). Theirs is a patriarchal society; however women share in the equality and opportunity to be “Matai” (chieftains) of their villages. Margaret Mead’s “Coming of Age in Samoa” was a dispassionate, scientific relating of the how and why of their culture. Damning and at multiple levels, insulting to Samoans.
My telling of this story is intended to present them “a bit more” honestly, inclusively and kindly than sterile science. Based upon my experiences on island, over just under three years. As and from the perspective of a Papalagi Matai (off islander, self appointed chieftain), generally impacting and influencing their society from the standpoint of financial, controlling aspects.
My most sincere hope is to not offend and to relate a psychological “love affair” shared with that handful of Papalagi Matai that decide to stay and live among the Samoans, on their island, in perpetuity. At times, contentious and always negotiated. Samoan’s are extremely bright people, clever and childlike in many aspects, while striving for self betterment and betterment of their island nation. They are remarkably adamant and sometimes stubborn in their attitudes, at their core, kind and loving, generous and sharing. No-one goes hungry in Samoa! That would be unheard of.
By way of assisting the uninitiated; (Almost the entire world), to correctly pronounce the Samoan language you must understand that the islands of Samoa were originally settled by the Dutch. By knowing that, you will learn that all “G’s” in Samoan are soft “G’s”; pronounced “ng” rather than hard “G’s”.
Pago Pago is pronounced Pongo Pongo. Fagatogo is pronounced Fongatongo and a word such as fafafigi is pronounced Fahfahfingee. In the written language of Samoan there can
appear as many as three or four vowels consecutively. There are almost no double consonants in their written language. A village such as Nu’uuli would be correctly pronounced Newewlee.
Papalagi Matai was originally the Samoan’s designation, translated to Cloud Buster Chief; due to the white sails on the vessels that first arrived. Matai was simply a designation of chief or person of status. Palagi (Pahlangee) simply means off islander, usually white. The common and more general designation used today; but not necessarily a slur.