The issue of culture

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Dear Editor,

This issue of the impact of cultural practices on lives has been kicked around in the media for some time now and I applaud the media for featuring those who are directly affected by the impact of changes in our cultural practices. 

Perhaps, it is most appropriate that we hear more opinions from those who live paycheque by paycheque or better yet, those who are struggling in subsistent living. 

This issue/ problem has gained more traction in the media but fall short of its place in the political agenda for Members of Parliament’s attention. The Minister of Public Cultural Affairs is key to providing a solution to address this problem. At least Samoa is one step ahead to have established a quasi-cultural sanctioning body to oversee such matters. However, regulating culture or the practise thereof would still remain questionable at best.

Our culture by design is basically operated on the premise of core values which determine our actions and reactions as well as our perception of proper decorum in the practice of our cultural affairs.

 Traditionally, our unadulterated culture was very simple, practical, and affordable. . .until the introduction of the foreign cash economy. 

We as a people have adopted and applied a monetary value on our traditional cultural implements and also replace other things for convenience. 

We have also placed much value in our reputation; personal, family, public. etc,. Our core values also dictate that we are more communal or group oriented rather than the individual or self. In this context, we emphasize more respect for others than to ourself, an outward expression of respect in proper decorum which demands the same reciprocity. E.g., we tend to place others in a position ascension higher than us to show ultimate respect. 

I think this premise could explain our excessive expression of giving (reciprocity) as demonstrated in handling of our cultural exchanges in funerals and weddings. 

During our unadulterated and pure days of the culture, everyone was on the same level playing field. 

In my book, “character precedes reputation”, not the other way around. As my mother tells me, “ ole faaSamoa, e tutu e tatou ivi ae ave ‘aano ma tagata”. . . o le faaalo lena a le Samoa. Ia manuia le fa’asausauga a le Atunu’u.

 

Joe Fa’amuli


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