Education - A SALTY STORY

NIE COLUMNIST:Ariel Fana’afi Ioane. 


I was exploring the mysteries of our family’s food cupboard in hopes of finding some banana chips to eat when I found a pound of salt instead. My mother probably bought it with the Sunday shopping and forgot it on the top shelf when the groceries were put away. The label read “Made in China,” with a huge “50 sene” written on it in black marker pen.

Looking at the packet of Sodium Chloride reminded me of all the things I knew about salt. One thing I knew for sure was that I can NOT live without it. Salt, used in cooking for centuries, sits on every dining table, so people can add it to the food they are consuming if the taste doesn’t satisfy them. Some love salt more than others (me included!)

Before stores were set up in Samoa, our people would gather the white crystals in small rock pools or crevices near the sea where the water had evaporated due to the sun’s heat. When I was younger I remember going to Taga, Savaii, home of the blowholes. I gathered some salt from the wide, bowl-shaped holes in the papamaa.  I was told my great-grandmother, Aimiti, collected salt this way. 

We weren’t the only society to practice this. Travel several thousand kilometers from here and you’ll find the same methods of obtaining salt in India. They gathered sea water and placed it in huge shallow pans in the sun. Once the water evaporated, the remaining salt would be gathered, put into bags, and then sold in the market, or used for cooking or preservatives. 

Salt also played a huge role in Indian history. In 1915, Mohandas Gandhi returned from his dreary life in South Africa as a law clerk and stayed in India to fight for Indian rights. “Hang on!” you might say. Indians already had Indian rights! Nope. India was ruled by England at the time (during Queen Victoria’s reign) so they had English rights. Which meant they had the right to make tea for the English and drive them around in rickshaws. 

Gandhi used a method called “Satyagraha” – passive resistance. He told his people that the land they called home was by all means theirs, and that no Englishman had the right to snatch it away from them. 

However he did not support violence so progress was painfully slow. “Anger is short madness,” he once said, to answer a restless youth when he questioned peaceful resistance. By 1919, his “saintliness” was noticed by all Indians that they began to call him “Mahatma” meaning “Great Soul.” 

He set up dozens of newspaper stands and finger-wagged in their pages about better schools, better potties, better working areas…and BETTER, GET INDEPENDENCE. 

However, one of the most significant feats of passive resistance was yet to come.

You see, there were these laws in India called the Salt Acts (set up by the English of course) that made it illegal to use salt not issued by the British government. AKA, you weren’t allowed to gather your own salt. You had to buy it. The problem was, most of the salt produced was exported back to “merry ol’ England” which left very little for the people of India. This scarcity of goods made it even more expensive. 

Ghandi, being a passive resistance believer, rejected the idea of a riot and led hundreds of followers on a 386-kilometer trek to Dandi, a village by the sea.

 In Dandi, Ghandi picked up a lump of natural sea salt…and all hell broke loose.

 He had challenged British law, and shown all his followers that they could all do it too. It was the beginning of the “civil disobedience” movement. This march to Dandi was the turning point in obtaining Indian independence, and was suitably named, THE SALT MARCH.  

All because of a grain of salt.

No matter how small something can be, it can still make a great impact on life. In a similar manner, we should be like salt. Don’t underestimate the little things you do faithfully that seem to go unnoticed.

The Bible compares the impact we should give to the world as Christians; to the impact salt gives everyday lives. We are the “salt” of goodness and salvation. That’s one definite thing we should all possess within us. Are you going to choose to stand for difference? 

Wanna change the world?

Pass the salt.

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