Maintaining the Samoan culture

By Vatapuia Maiava and Ilia L. Likou ,

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WE NEED TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN OUR CULTURE: Fenuimia’i Samuelu, 63, from the village of Lano, Savai’i.

WE NEED TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN OUR CULTURE: Fenuimia’i Samuelu, 63, from the village of Lano, Savai’i. (Photo: Misiona Simo)

The erosion of our culture is a scary prospect.

But it’s hard not to when foreign methods and ways continue to dominate how we do things on these shores.

 For Fenuimia’i Samuelu, from the village of Lano, Savai’i, it’s not all a lost battle.

The 63-year-old firmly believes that the power to keep the strength of the Samoan culture is in the hands of the people.

Her contribution to this is the production of Samoan handicrafts.

 “To tell you the truth, it brings us villagers much joy when we are given the opportunity to do small things like this,” she told the Village Voice.

“It’s especially great when the spotlight is given to us to show off our talents. I love making traditional feather things like this head piece.”

The only sad part is that people are relying more on their ability to purchase things from shops rather than their own skills in making what they need.

“Many people rely a lot on purchasing these things at the shops but it’s so simple to make,” Fenuimia’i said.

“Our ancestors knew how to do these handicrafts and they passed it down to the next generations. That’s why it is of utmost importance that we put our elders first so that they will not only have a comfortable life but they can also teach us these techniques and traditional skills.”

Fenuimia’i says that the priority for many parents should be to teach their children how to make these cultural items.

“But for us parents my only question is, where should we put our priorities these days?” she said.

“The quickest response to questions like that is to always prioritize our children. If they are our priority then we will be able to teach them cultural skills like this.”

“There are so many foreign influences these days causes our culture to fade. That’s the biggest problem we see these days.”

Fenuimia’i says that it’s great that many village women are starting to bring back the cultural practices to teach to the female youths.

“Like I mentioned before, it’s very important to teach our younger generation’s cultural practices,” she said.

“That’s why we ladies of the villagers are beginning to push lessons on how to make these things to the female youths. We want our children to grow up and learn these important lessons.

“But we adults must first know before we teach and that’s why we need to go back to our roots.”

The only problem is, it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Fenuimia’i the best way to look at these cultural practices is that it’s a good way to make money.

“For a lot of the older youths of Samoa, it’s hard to teach them these skills,” she said.

“The reason being is because we missed the best opportunity to teach; when they are young. That’s one of the problems we face.

“But why are these skills very important? If the girls grow up and they don’t have a job then they can sit at home and make these things.

“They can weave mats, bags, hats; they can make feather items and other things to sell for a bit of money. Another benefit is that they will learn a piece of their forgotten culture which they can pass on to their children.”

Even simple things like feather items can bring in a hefty profit.

“We see a lot of women struggling these days but their struggles will lessen if they had this method of making money,” Fenuimia’i said.

“But I guess it’s hard to teach a generation who are lazy. The young people these days just sit around and waste time. Just think about it; these feather items can sell for $30 or $50. That’s a lot of money you can make.

“We adults not only have to teach these children but we also have to be examples.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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