Reduce the demands to ease the burden

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

We are a proud people. So proud we sometimes – or most of the time – mask the grim reality of life. And when it comes to fa’alavelave, we are very good at doing the impossible even though we know very well we simply cannot afford it.

Let’s face it; as Samoans, we are all guilty. 

I’m guilty, you’re guilty, everyone is guilty. 

We are humbled and meek until the ‘Samoan’ inside of us comes out during whatever event – whether it’s a funeral, wedding, opening of a building or whatever. 

Call it the silly Samoan or whatever, I’m not ashamed because this is the reality and it happens to everyone. We know it can’t be good for us and yet we keep doing it. 

We understand how painful it is but somehow the urge to out-give and outdo everyone else has been built into our DNA so that everywhere we go, it just happens naturally. 

It’s a wonderful thing but it’s also a sad trait. 

It’s a blessing but it can also be a curse. 

Ladies and gentlemen, these are the challenges of our time. These are some of the issues we have to navigate to find what’s best for us. 

What’s obviously needed is for us to strike a balance, to maintain our values and traditions – including our love of giving – but doing it in a more humane and realistic way in line with what we can do.

We say this because these are difficult times. Financially more and more people are struggling every day. Never before have we had so many young people with bright future end up at Tafaigata Prison for stealing and theft as a servant. 

What’s sad is that when we stop to consider some of the cases, it’s not necessarily their fault. They are a product of vicious system that’s led them there.

There are many wonderful and intelligent minds who have ended up at Tafa’igata because they were driven to do the unthinkable by the pressures of Samoan society – including our silly pride. 

We are talking about the countless men and women who end up stealing from their places of work merely to make ends meet and to satisfy the whim of proud parents, matai and families. 

We are referring to daughters and sons who break the law because their parents just cannot understand the meaning of the word enough when it comes to church and cultural obligations. 

This is part of the vicious system we are referring to. It has to change. 

We have been independent for 55 years now and yet at times, it feels like we are going backwards because we seem to have enslaved ourselves to the demand of everyday life.

And what is it all about?

When we dig deep within us, we find that it is all about pride. Silly, silly pride.

It’s such that causes us to want the most elaborate funeral in Samoa. It’s such that drives parents who can least afford a big birthday to stage the biggest birthday in the village. 

It is that pride that forces church Ministers and village leaders to demand such exorbitant amounts from their members. 

And those demands have the trickle down effects. 

The contributions or the saogamea has to be paid by someone and in some cases, the lives of those bright minds at Tafa’igata. 

It’s sad but unfortunately this is the reality in Samoa today.

These are issues we don’t want to talk about. It’s uncomfortable to confront them but if we don’t do it, who will? 

Last week we celebrated our independence. It was an occasion to behold and even those people who visited our shores have left singing loud praises of Samoa. Which is fantastic.

But it’s important to truly embrace the desires and the hopes of our forebears when they fought and achieved political independence many, many years ago.

They not only wanted this nation to be free from outside interferences, they would not have wanted our people to enslave ourselves. 

We need to stop enslaving ourselves by making life difficult through the demands placed on families and individuals. The thing to do is reduce the demands by family, culture and church on people. As a country, we need to give our people space to breathe.

We need to learn to say no and give from within our means. 

What do you think? 

Have a wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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