Sustaining our culture, it’s everyone’s duty
Talaitaū Filipo Auna’i, from the village of Faleula, believes if the Samoan culture is to survive, everyone has a role to play.
The parents and the elders have a responsibility to teach the young people.
Aged 65, Talaitaū was spotted in his small Samoan hut making roof thatching for parts of his damaged fale.
Talaitaū says that the small Samoan cultural tasks might seem like normal chores but this is the way Samoans have lived their lives for a very long time and it is important to sustain it.
And with it being part of our culture, Samoans need to live less like westerners and learn more about what makes us who we are.
“Maintaining our culture is very important and it’s not just the task of one person to sustain it,” he told the Village Voice.
“Weaving mats, making palm roof thatches or even just making handicrafts; it doesn’t matter if you are a mum, dad, boy or girl, you must know how to do all of these things.
“These are Samoan type of jobs and we are losing this part of our culture. People are becoming so accustomed to living a western lifestyle in western type houses and we forget these important skills.”
Talaitaū says that on the bright side, there are still people who take these cultural practices seriously.
“On the other hand, there are still some people who hold these skills dear to them,” he said.
“Although many Samoans are becoming more western, we still have many living in Samoan houses and live with the Samoan skills they know.
“I grew up in Samoan houses like this and I learned both skills for female and male tasks so that when I entered adulthood, I don’t have to rely on women to weave or to do female chores; I am able to do everything on my own.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t categorize these skills with gender; I prefer to see them as just Samoan type work.”
For Talaitaū, he believes that every Samoan should already have different Samoan skills at hand for whenever they need it.
“I believe that there should not be any Samoan who doesn’t know how to do these cultural practices,” he said.
“By the time you turn five you should already be learning the simple skills and then grow up learning more difficult ones.
“All the youth of today should already have these skill sets in their minds.”
And with our culture dying out slowly, Talaitaū says it is up to the parents to bring it all back by teaching the skills to their children.
“If you are a Samoan parent, you should teach your children how to do this work,” he said.
“Don’t just teach them, you have to show them how it is done which means that you should already know how to do it yourself.
“When I look at the youth these days, I feel so sorry for them. They rely on the western style of living while losing an important part of their heritage.
“People might see these things as just chores or tasks but they are much more than that.”