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"O le aiga Samoa" comic series launched

A Samoan comic series which has come out from Nafanua Communication and Culture – a Samoan language programme for adults – has been launched in New Zealand as part of Samoan Language Week celebrations.

The founder of Nafanua Communication and Culture and writer of "O le aiga Samoa", Nafanuatele Lafitaga Mafaufau, told the Samoa Observer that the main purpose for the “O le aiga Samoa” series is to show people, especially children how special Samoan culture and language is. 

"Through the Samoa family, we can show experiences and perspectives of everyday life and help to clarify questions that children or even adults may have about fa’asamoa in terms of why and how we do things," she said in an interview. "For this first comic, the story is lessons of fa’aaloalo which is a simple story of common experiences of tali malo ma le fa’aaloalo.”

The Samoan comic series portrays a modern successful Samoan couple and their children who live outside of Samoa, but still maintain their Samoan values, beliefs, language and cultural heritage.

The objective of the publication is to portray Samoans in an “authentic and uplifting way”, according to Ms. Mafaufau. 

"What this comic aims to do is to portray our people in an authentic but uplifting way. I want young people especially to look at this cool comic, read the stories and think, yeah it’s cool to be Samoan or Pacific. The measina of our culture and language is what makes us cool and amazing so that they can see themselves," she added.

The author currently lives in New Zealand, though she was a teacher at the  Maluafou College and the former Congregational Senior College. Returning to New Zealand, she clocked another 15 years at the Auckland Girls’ Grammar School and is now an advisor on Pasifika at the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

Ms. Mafaufau emphasised that their group chose to work on a Samoan comic, as it is not only a fun way of engaging with Samoan language and stories, but is also an interactive medium for parents and children to read together.

The artist behind the comic's illustrations is a Samoan comic book illustrator/professional wrestler/competitive gamer, Michel Mulipola, who was born and raised in Māngere, South Auckland.

He was approached by Ms. Mafaufau to do the artwork for the comic series, due to his experience as a comic creator and described his work with Nafanua on the comic as great, as he had ideas for a comic series when he first started taking Samoan classes a couple of years ago.

"On these comic stories, Nafanua and her team's knowledge and experience of the Sāmoan culture were exactly what I needed to help guide me," he said, in an email response to questions from the Samoa Observer.

He also emphasised that one thing he loved about the comic series project was that it was a collaboration with different people bringing their ideas to make the final product.

Mr. Mulipola thanked his family and Mrs. Mafaufau for guidance on his journey of Samoan cultural learning but also in working together on the "O le aiga Samoa" comic stories.

Confirming that "O le aiga Samoa" is the first of many Samoan comics that will be published in the future, Ms. Mafafau thanked her Nafanua Communication and Culture Team. They comprise Mary Soonaoso Tiumalu, Faufa’alele Tiatia Mulitalo, Tofilau Fa’aulu Tomuli Liuliu-Afoa, and the artist team Michel Mulipola and Jermaine Lee.

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