Meet Otemai Liu Ausage, a 70-year-old resident of the village of Nofoali’i.
When he was interviewed by the Samoa Observer, he spoke about the great role the Village Council’s play in solving some of the issues we have in our country. Those issues include youth gangs and inter-school fight.
He also spoke of the need for families, Village Councils and the Police to work together cooperatively when dealing with young people.
Said Otemai, “A strong Village Council helps straighten out the behaviour of our children.”
“There is difference between life in the village and life in town,” he said.
“A lot of villages in town don’t have strong Village Councils like the ones back here in the village. I am not saying that all of them don’t have strong Village Councils, only some of them.
“But back here in the village, the matai’s and the Village Council deal with all the problems in the villages and in some cases, families as well. We have a huge role to play in solving the issues and the problems that we face in our country.
He added that the government also depends on the Village Councils to help them (government) out in solving the different issues in Samoa.
“Especially with all the issues we have concerning the youths in our country,” says Otemai.
“We have heard about it on the radio, television and also in the newspaper. There are a lot of problems caused by the youths but it’s not just the youth who are living and residing in Apia.
“We are also working on trying to discipline our children back here in the village and work on changing their mindsets and their attitudes.”
He said that everything starts from the family.
“The reason why different people have different behaviour and mindset s is because they we are all from different families.
“Therefore, sometimes parents cannot control the behaviour of their children because they are influenced by hanging out with other youth.
“But that’s when we (Village Council) step in because it affects a lot of people.
“We have taboos in the village to keep our youths and the people of the village from committing bad behaviour.
“For example starting fights and making noises when they are drunk and causing trouble not just in the village, but also everywhere they go.
The taboos are there to guide everyone in the village just like laws and regulations we have in our country, says Otemai.
“They set barriers and an outline for them on how to live their lives.”
“And the taboos are not just for boys. We also have taboos and rules for girls or the daughters of our village.”
Otemai says that the matai’s of Nofoali’i are looking at joining forces with the Police to put an end to these issues concerning their youths.
“I am aware that some of the villages in town have started working with the police, and we want to do the same as well because we want what’s best for them (youths).
“And we know that fighting in public places is not the best thing for them to do. Fighting and causing trouble in public places affects a lot of innocent people. It also influences their lives.
“The government has been trying to put an end to this problem of school fights and youth gangs. One school was closed down as a result of it as well and it had affected the lives of the innocent children who were not involved in the fights.”
Otemai believes that these things happen when parents are not doing their part well in raising up their children.
“Everything starts from family,” he says.
“I believe that if parents do their job well in raising and brining up their kids, these sorts of issues can be avoided.
“Parents are the first teachers and families and homes are the children’s first school. Therefore, we really need to look at how we bring up our children and how we raise them up.
“Also in the village, every family has a matai to look after the family. If the children don’t listen to their parents, the matai of the family who is the head of that family should talk to the parents and give them advice, or let the matai talk to the children and tell them what to do.
“And if they don’t listen after that, the Village Council should bring them in and punish their families, because I know a lot of them do not want their whole family to suffer because of them.
“That’s one thing we are looking at right now. If ever we have children involved in fights and other troubles anywhere in Samoa, we will bring in their families and talk to them about it.
“For example something happened in our village two weeks ago, when one of the boys in the village got drunk and started causing trouble and making noise in the village. The Police gave him a warning for his behaviour, but we punished him.
“Village Councils can help our government and families to put an end to such behaviour. And I am a strong believer that if we can all work together, we will no longer hear about these things anymore.”
As a final comment, Otemai said he wanted to thank the Samoa Observer for giving him the opportunity to express his views.
“I read the paper every Sunday, and that’s how I know about all the issues that come up in our country,” he says.
“So I want to thank the Samoa Observer for giving me the opportunity to say something about these issues.”