May we never forget the spirit of the Mau Movement

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

As a nation, there is no doubt that Samoa has come a long way. 

We need to remind ourselves now and then.

You see, sometimes when we are frustrated about the way things are and how some things have turned out, we forget that where we are today is not as merely as tough as it was. 

In hindsight, we have it easy thanks to the vision, wisdom and foresight of our forebears who paved the way for us.

It was only two weeks ago this nation paused to honour their memories during the 55th Independence Celebration. How can we forget the tears, sweat and the blood shed for the glorious freedom we enjoy today? We should never forget.

In this writer’s case, I received an email from a niece in New Zealand who is studying the topic of the “Mau Movement” for an assignment. She wanted to know “my take” on the topic and what I think the Mau Movement represents for Samoa. 

Everyone has an opinion and everyone will have different views. 

But in very simple language, this is what I told my niece. I thought I’d share it with you and all the young generations of Samoa today:

 

“Dear Miracle,

 

The Mau Movement, started by Lauaki in Savai’i, was a non-violent political movement born out of the Samoan people’s desire to be free of foreign rule, discrimination brutality imposed on them by the foreign administrators of Samoa the time.

The pinnacle of the Movement came when one of its most prominent leaders, Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III was fatally shot by the New Zealand administration during a peaceful demonstration by hundreds of Samoans in the heart of Apia, in what is now known as “Black Saturday.” 

Black Saturday may have been one of the darkest periods in the history of Samoa, but it gave birth to a new era for our country. 

Our darkest day, actually in the end proved to be our most glorious one, in that it became the catalyst for self-rule or independence 

Tupua Tamasese Lealofi’s final words are worth remembering.

“My blood has been spilt for Samoa,” he said. “I am proud to give it. Do not dream of avenging it, as it was spilt in peace. If I die, peace must be maintained at any price.” 

This is not just important today. These words helped set the scene for a peaceful transition to independence prior to 1962.

The Mau Movement was significant in that it reinforced some of the values that many generations after continue to enjoy. 

One of the key things the colonial rulers at the time tried to do was to undermine the authority or pule of the matai. They did not like the fact Samoa was chosen by God to be ruled by matai. They did not appreciate the wisdom, the foreknowledge and how matai could organise their aiga and nu’u. Thankfully, our forebears did not give us easily.

Today as we can still see, the authority of matai still hasn’t diminished one bit.

Samoa is still being ruled by matai and our Parliamentary system allows for this system to continue to be fostered for many more years to come.

The Mau Movement was also a testament to the resilience of the Samoan people who never gave up even in the face of extreme hardship. 

This no doubt shaped how Samoans have continued to fight on despite all the natural disasters and other kinds of adversity that have been thrown in their path over the years.  

The Mau Movement worked because it was initiated by Samoans for Samoans, giving rise to the Mau’s catch-cry of Samoa mo Samoa or Samoa for Samoans.

And it’s a cry that has continued to echo over the years, even up till now. 

Our people have become highly sensitive, even suspicious, of any form of foreign influence that comes into our country.

The Mau Movement was a fight by Samoans to take back what was rightfully theirs in the first place – the power to rule their own country peacefully, the way that they wanted. 

The foreign administration at the time tried to remove anything that was Mau-related, including stripping away the insignia of the movement – a white strip that encircled lavalavas worn by members of the Mau. 

But they could not take away the people’s spirit, determination and courage to persevere. And no one and nothing has succeeded in ever doing that. 

So all in all, the Mau Movement did more than just carve out the way for our independence. It also shaped the way Samoans think and act, even up till now. 

It gave us our sense of identity; our sense of pride; and our sense of nationhood. It also gave us our sense of security that nothing like the struggles and hardship that the Mau freed us from will ever happen again.”

By the way, by the time I was done writing to my dear niece, I’d shed a few tears. They were tears of gratefulness, thanksgiving and rejoicing knowing that I am the product of ancestors who stood up and fought for what they believe is right for Samoa. Let not their struggles, tears and blood be in vain, Samoa!

Have a wonderful week, God bless! 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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