Contradictions in Samoa

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Marj Moore

The Samoa many of us know and love, is one of contradictions.

We are a self-described proud race of people because of our past, our culture, families and traditions but you will often hear us using the word humble to describe ourselves.

We live on an island blessed with fertile soil, a great climate and surrounded by the bountiful Pacific but we look to processed food to sustain ourselves. 

We have a large population of strong and talented, young people but we cannot seem to find them meaningful employment.

We are God-fearing and claim Samoa is founded on God but our behavior and the crimes we commit and conceal, suggest otherwise.

We have respect written into our culture and traditions for females but this respect is not always accorded.

Many adults believe young people should be seen and not heard and that they are not worth listening to and then wonder why they struggle later in life when they are expected to think for themselves and offer opinions.

We continue to rely on our global friends and other investors to provide the basics in education and health while we concentrate on getting hard to repay loans for large and meaningless copies of buildings from other cultures and other economies.

Like many other countries, we have a yawning gap between the very wealthy and the very poor. This gap seems to widen every year. 

On our front page today you will see photographs and read stories which in themselves appear to be contradictions.

One story depicts our Christian celebration of Palm Sunday with young people from Nofoalii re-enacting the story of Jesus at the beginning of Holy Week. Almost every other church in Samoa would have had a version of this re-enactment.

Just below that photograph, is one of several stories about our young secondary school students who were involved in fights in the past week.

Both stories have been in the news before: the one a joyful celebration, the other an ongoing problem.

And while publication of the latter story is one that needs to be told and solved, some of the solutions offered by well meaning readers, border on alarming.

And these are without having discovered what the cause of the fighting was which continued over several days.

The solutions range from reinstating corporal punishment in schools; handing the culprits over to the village matai where there could be ongoing punishment for families of those involved; allowing the police to lash the students; students to be expelled from schools or simply stricter supervision at the bus terminal.

And while we are yet to hear from the students themselves as to what has actually caused this latest outbreak of fighting, there has been no shortage of opinions on why there has been fighting from adults.

It includes the claim that young people knowing their rights then act in a certain way while cyber bullying and social media is also put forward as a cause.

In the meantime, as part of a cooling off period and while police continue to investigate sports activities have been put on hold. 

Given that in the past, rivalry in sports has triggered similar behavior, the principals concerned have taken sensible precautions. 

So too is their decision to meet at the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture to seek a solution to this problem. 

We believe that input from the police, matai, parents and most of all students themselves would also be valuable at some stage before any actions are implemented.       

© Samoa Observer 2016

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