Passion for tradition

There is no disputing the fact we are proud Samoans. It doesn’t mater where in the world we live, our lives are dictated by customs, traditions and what we love the most about where we are from.

 For a group of Samoans in New Zealand known as Le La o Samoa, that passion about Samoa is deeply rooted in dancing. 

And in September, the group will bring that passion to Samoa when they come for a tour and several performances. 

Specializing in Samoan Siva; the group was founded nine years ago by Sia Su’a and is currently being directed by her daughter Lana Sellen Aoina who is also the group’s choreographer.

“We love and have a strong passion in what do,” Ms. Aoina told the Samoa Observer.

The group will be performing for this year’s Teuila Festival as well as fiafia nights for different accommodation; they will also be filming their 3rd DVD during the trip.

Since La O Samoa was founded nine years ago, the group has visited Samoa five times mainly for the Teuila Festival.

But what exactly does the have to offer here in Samoa?

“We specialize mainly in traditional Samoan traditional dances with a little bit of contemporary style,” Ms. Aoina said.

“We also offer colourful performances such as Cook Island, Fijjian, Hawaiian, Tahitian, fire dancing when it’s requested of us.”

A trip like this does not come cheap but the trip was made possible after a series of frundraisers.

“We held two social fundraisers,” Ms. Aoina said.

“One at Tausala Club and Fiafia Nite club; both were a huge successes. We raised funds for our airfares, costumes, accommodation and for our DVD.

“We could not have done it without God on our side, the support of our friends, families, followers was overwhelming and we are forever grateful and blessed.

But what holds a group like this together?

“Our friendship,” Ms. Aoina replied.

“Trust, passion in what we do, dedication, determination, supporting each other, reliable dance team members, good communication, commitment and contributions.

“We treat others in a respectful and supportive manner; overall we have a great team of dancers, young role models that young girls look up to. “

With the trip now just around the corner, Ms. Aoina said that the one thing she looks forward to most about coming back home is to be able to showcase her groups talents.

“We look forward to showcasing our talent and to give back to our people who have supported us in the last 9 years,” she said.

“It is also a good chance for our followers who reside in Samoa to watch us perform live; most importantly spending time with families and friends back home.”

But the one thing Ms. Aoina is thankful for is all the support from fans and loved ones.

“Thank you Samoa for your ongoing support,” she said.

“Thank you for your prayers… you have never failed us; we will continue to make you proud and promote Siva Samoa to the world, God bless you all.”

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College hosts Samoan language week

Samoa College will mark its inaugural Samoan language week in a bid to draw its students’ attention to the country’s cultural practices and customs. College Principal Karene Faasisila, Vice Principal and staff are behind the week-long program of activities that also include the ava ceremony and cultural formalities (folafola sua, folafola toana’i, folafolaga saumolia, sula toga). According to Taumaloto Kaisa, who is a teacher at Samoa College, the program involves the whole school and doesn’t just target the teaching staff. "The college’s principal, Karene Faasisila, vice-principal and staff have initiated a Samoan Week activity not only to end off another academic term but also to highlight the importance of Samoan practices to the students," he told Samoa Observer in an interview. "The program isn’t only for the teachers teaching Samoa or is limited to students who only take Samoa. It involves the whole school with the aim of emphasising Samoan cultural practices because we have seen that some students haven’t experienced most of our practices." The week-long program this week comprises five main categories of activities that will run until Thursday. Category 1 activities highlight the importance of Samoan literacy through speech competitions, impromptu speech competitions, spelling competitions and debates. Category 2 focuses on cultural formalities such as the ava ceremony and others (folafola sua, folafola toana’i, folafolaga saumolia, sula toga) and Category 3 is Samoan sports and games such as cricket, collecting coconuts and weaving baskets. Mr Kaisa said it is important students experience and participate in Samoan sports and games in order to find out more about their origins. "The importance of students experiencing these sports is because there are a few Samoan statements that derive from Samoan games which are incorporated in speeches and formalities,” he added. "It’s important that the students experience these sports so that they’ll know where these statements come from and what it practically means. "The fourth category is a demonstration of handcrafting, weaving and printing. Students are taught on how to weave various Samoan crafts (ma’ilo, polavai, polasisi)." Students would learn the art of weaving an ietoga (Samoan traditional fine mat) and instead of tapa-making, consequently Mr Kaisa said the college had found it difficult locating an expert in that area who could teach the students which is why the elei printing activity was added. All the four categories will be implemented Monday to Thursday before the staff and student body converge on the college hall on Friday where there will be traditional performances with classes competing against each other.

By Hyunsook Siutaia 30/09/2020
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