Politics not on Fa'afafine Association agenda

Members of Samoa’s fa'afafine community should pursue politics if they wish, Alex Su’a, President of the Samoa faʻafafine Association (S.F.A.) says, but it is not on the organisation’s agenda.

“We’d rather promote the well being and capacity building of our members (and non-members) to understand what’s happening around us and be the voices,” said Mr. Su’a.

“It’s not on our agenda but that doesn’t mean the Association does not support that field. It’s inspiring and that’s the whole point of the Association, it’s to enhance the capacity of our members to be proud of who they are as fa’afafine and fa’afatama.”

The topic of faʻafafine entering politics was recently brought to the fore during a debate on E.F.K.S. TV, which attracted widespread criticism. 

But Mr. Su’a said he would rather have the Association focus on addressing more substantive issues such as domestic violence, sex-related diseases and health services.

“[Fa’afafine entering politics] was never on our agenda as in the association,” he said. 

“Joining politics is hardly something a fa’afafine aspires to achieve and it’s really rare to hear a fa’afafine wanting to join politics.”

But Mr. Su’a said the timing of the issue coming to the fore could inspire some faʻafafine to run for public office.

“This topic can also be something that can be an inspiration to the fa’afafine community and that individually is a personal choice,” he said. 

“It’s up to the person but we’re not promoting that in our Association.”

Mr. Su’a added that fa’afafine and fafatama are very capable should they decide to aim for Parliament.

An individual fa’afafine entrepreneur, Christy Pune Brown, said she had dreams about being in Parliament but as life goes on, she realises there is more to life than just political aspirations.

 “Studying social studies back in school somehow inspired myself as a faʻafafine to become a Prime Minister of Samoa but then I figured, what are the negatives and positives I would get if I do?” she said.

 “Because I strongly agree that 70 percent of Samoans don’t accept us for who we are, which is kind of not nice to know and it makes me [wonder] if I’m eligible to run for office.

“I guess fa’afafine have a chance to run for politics because we are human beings and we have strategies and intentions to build a nation not only good for the betterment of Samoa, [our] church, [our] villages and our families, however, we’re fa’afafine and we have more serious things to focus on than running for politics which we are sure [is] going to create a lot of controversies.

“I heard many fa’afafine have matai titles also they’re involved inside the village councils and fono a matai.”

For Ms. Brown, her priority is feeding her family especially in times of unprecedented economic downturn being led by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The S.F.A. has between 30-50 active members, though Mr. Su’a estimates the fa’afafine population in Samoa to be between 1000-2000.

The controversial programme on the E.F.K.S. TV consisted of a debate between two youth groups from the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) earlier this month. 

But the public reaction to the debate was swift and decisive with members of the public, including the fa'afafine community, taking to social media to condemn the debate and its participants.

It also prompted the General Secretary of the E.F.K.S. church, Reverend Vavatau Taufao, to issue a public apology. 

“Last night, we (televised) a debate on one of the topics which has insulted the feelings of some of our country members,” he said.

The apology by the Secretary-General was live-streamed on Facebook and soon spread across the social networking website, logging over 18,000 views and more than 200 comments.

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