The shared history and culture of Fiji and Samoa is expressed through stories.
I make my point by telling two short stories.
The fleet of the Tui Fiti (i.e. king of Fiji) struck a storm and sought refuge in Manu’a. The Tui Manu’a and his people welcomed them to their homes and helped the Fijian party to refit and repair their damaged fleet.
After a year in Manu’a, the Tui Fiti and his party bid farewell to the Tui Manu’a and the people of Manu’a. In his farewell the Tui Fiti said: You have given me so much love I cannot possibly repay you. But this I will say to you.
My love for you I will not expose to the air lest it turn mouldy nor shall I put it to the ground lest the maggots get to it. My love for you I will place between my heart and my lungs, so that so long as I have breath, it too will have life.
I’m going to abbreviate in order to save time. This is one of the most popular stories about the origin of the kava in Samoa.
The two daughters of Tuisuga of Fagalii, named Ualā and Malomamae were traditional healers, sent for by the Tui Fiti to come to Fiji to attend to his seriously ill daughter. They were successful and the two daughters became the wives of the Tui Fiti. One of the children of Ualā by the Tui Fiti was known as Aanootamalii meaning the flesh of the chiefs.
The story ends with the last testament of Aanootamalii.
His dying wish was that he be buried in the area of his home where he spent most of life serving i.e. the valusaga. The valusaga was the place where Samoan families would make their compost. The compost was used to fertilize soil.
Aanotamalii instructed his family that if a plant were to grow, they should look out for it, because the plant was he. Once he was strong enough, they were to take him i.e. the plant to Samoa.
His family promised to do so.
After sometime, his sister Muliovailele saw a plant with some shoots or tolo growing where they had buried Aanootamalii. She declared, Ua toe ola mai Aanootamalii (Aanootamalii has come back to life). As promised to her brother, she then dug up the plant and took it to Samoa.
These two stories lend substance and meaning to the Samoan saying: O lē lave i tīgā, o lo’u ivi, o lo’u toto ma lo’u aano. He who rallies in my hour of need, is my bone, my blood and my flesh. Soifua.