The journey to a Happy Father’s Day!
It is that time of the year again with Father’s Day set to be celebrated across Samoa.
For a typical Samoan family, the fathers and the sons are normally the early birds on Sundays and special occasions like Father's Day, to either take charge of the umu or leave it to their sons to take the lead to ensure the family has a special treat to mark the occasion.
Each of us has a story of the impact that our fathers played in our lives, and the different stages in our journey when we thought all was lost, only for him to call or surprisingly drop in to clear the path and set us on our way again.
There are others who have lost their fathers in the early stages of their childhood, cut down by disease or tragedy, opening the door for uncles and other close family members to take on the role.
The beauty of living in the Pacific islands is we are not short of father figures – with our fathers’ or mothers’ siblings ready to take on the extra mentoring role, often at short notice – but at most times to protect us from our own vulnerabilities and to protect and ensure stability within the family.
Every working day in this island paradise, there is a father toiling away, either at sea or in a plantation to ensure his family’s future is guaranteed.
Sam Lafoga is a father in that category, who was tending to his plantation in Aleisa yesterday while his family lived in Melbourne, as Samoa began the countdown to Father’s Day celebrations today.
“As a young boy growing up, I looked up to my father as a role model who was a farmer and had so much faith in God," he said. “He taught me that anything is possible through God and that in every family God should be the foundation, so that when there are troubles and tribulations, the Lord will guide and heal all that is broken.”
Mr Lafoga gave this parting advice to the reporter: “We must put God first in all that we do, and as a father who is the head of the family, we must be good role models by uniting our families under God."
In another part of Upolu, 38-year-old Joe Sefo of Tufulele who has six children, braved the scorching afternoon heat to go fishing for his family. He said on the eve of the Father’s Day celebrations in Samoa, he will reflect on the importance of caring for your elders and how it can lead to endless blessings.
“I greatly believe that as we grow up, we all move on and have our own families but in the Samoan culture, we are strong on taking care of our parents and grandparents," he said on Saturday while working near Malua.
Mr Lafoga still remembers his father’s work regime and the importance of early morning chores in his plantation to clear his vegetables. Samoan families relied on their plantations for thousands of years, the traditional practice ensuring there was food on the table and a consistent source of family income.
"Our ancestors have depended on our plantations for survival and, even though it may not give us riches, it puts food on the table and gives us a source of income to live by and we are very grateful to have something [rather] than nothing,” he said. “The only reason why I go out fishing is to cater to the needs of our elders who [crave] seafood once a week which is healthy and that prolongs their health. I can gladly sacrifice my time under a blazing sun or a rainy day just so I can make them happy."
Thanks to the insights provided by Mr Sefo and Mr Lafoga, we can surmise that respect for elders, adherence to God and commitment and loyalty to families and culture are the prerequisites for a successful journey as a father.
But as families around Samoa settle to celebrate the day today, we spare a thought for those fathers, who may for one reason or another not have their families around them to mark the day and hope that things do eventually work out.
On that note Happy Fathers Day celebrations to all our readers and God bless.