Samoan cultural traditions, the controversy and the God in us who knows no Jesus
The recent confrontation between the visiting German professor, Karl-Heinz Kuhlmann and a pair of LDS missionaries in Apia, Samoa is fascinating in a number of ways.
Though the brief exchange centered around the “true Gospel of Jesus” and or Christianity, the disagreement goes as far back as the 3rd century and the European mentality and cultural traditions central to the Dark Ages and the Age of Discovery through the Age of European Reason.
Vitally important to our assessment is the fact that there are a total of three personalities (tu ma aganu’u) which have predominantly influenced and shaped our world before and since the European finally emerged with a history, littered with murderous campaigns following the fall of the Roman empire and religious crusades which killed mostly children and largely it’s illiterate indigenous population. The three personalities (tu ma aganu’u) are borne of Ice, Sand and the Sun.
In the context of religion and or universal divine spirituality, the European and or Christian personality is borne out of Ice, the Arabs and or Muslim personality is borne out of Sand and the Samoan and those of black or African descent, theirs is borne out of the Sun.
In antiquity, the Ice and the Sand personalities shared one commonality: poor in natural resources.
In my own personal view, this was and remains to this day, at the core of European colonization in which Christianity and Catholicism played a vital and central role. The organization of power, wealth and resources for no one but the European. As Thomas Paine eloquently put it in the Age of Reason, “All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to be no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind and monopolize power and profit”.
My own personal experience growing up and attending Sunday school in Toamua, I was always told, “the Pope is the representative (sui vaaia) of God on earth. At home amongst my elders, I was always told of a common sense approach to decision making relative to tu ma aganu’u, “Va’ai ou maka, fa’alogo ou kaliga ma fa’aaoga lou mafaufau !!.” With all due respect.
Christianity is the invention of the European for the Europeans not for our Samoan ancestors and or ourselves. Our problem today as an indigenous people is numerous:
1). the European missionary has convinced us he is by God, “the chosen one,” and he has the exclusive line of communication with God.
2). The European missionary has convinced us, we, tagata Samoa are bad, morally inadequate people for we are sinful, since our first parents, who I know for a fact, never historically existed, ate a fruit.
3). God, the God of Israel is a white man. If I may deconstruct the term Israel which was never meant for a race, it looks like the following: Is- from ISIS the wife of Asuar of ancient Egypt, better known as Osiris, ra- as in our ancestral progenitor RA, el- as in God or Mother Earth or Eleele in Samoan.
4). The Savior, Jesus Christ, is also a white man when the historical Jesus spoke Aramaic and was neither Roman nor Greek.
5). Most tragically for us, is the idea that we as believers, should, effectively suspend all critical faculties in our minds and just believe and have faith in the European missionary. Do not ask any questions. For doing so, will be considered hostile and disrespectful of authority.
In antiquity prior to the arrival of European missionaries, our ancestors were crystal clear with no illusion, of their origin as a people and their personality (tu ma aganu’u) which governed their daily decision making relative to their harmonious relationship with each other, nature, ecology and cosmology.
In the totality of the indigenous Samoan being and his cultural and spiritual traditions, one finds the unmitigated presence of the Divine in our sources of meaning and empowerment in our ancestral stories (tala o le vavau ma le faavavau), proverbs (alagaupu), riddles (tupua) and metaphors (tala fa’atusa). Our holistic worldview and cultural traditions of taliga malo, si’i alofa and much of what constitutes faalavelave.
The manner in which our ancestors addressed injustice, particularly murder or loss of human life, which threatens community order and stability. The innocent, the matai (alii, the divine ma faipule, tulafale, his spokesperson), offers his life or pay the price so human life and community peace, harmony and order are preserved.
In our Samoan story of the creation of man which featured our creator Ra/La as progenitor and Tuli the plover, the messenger(savali), we are told this chronology of creation which I suggest we view in the metaphorical context of symbolism, chemistry and cosmology with essential elements of creation fire, water, air and earth (eleele):
Usu le Ra/La (fire) i le fue sa (vine) maua le vai (water); usu le vai i le eleele (earth) maua le Ilo (worm/animal/life). Tuli then fashioned (shred) and manava (breathe air/spirit) into worm maua le tagata ola, ua atamai (firey divine intelligence in man), the Christ also known as the Christos, the God in us.
In the literary work of Thomas Paine in the Age of Reason, if I could paraphrase it, the Europeans have adopted the pagans’ God of Ra and transformed it into a man named Jesus, call him the Christ and gave him the same indigenous adorations the pagans had given their Sun of God. In the context of our ancestral progenitor the Ra/La, I find the esoteric wisdom of our ancestors in the maota, our circular house of the Divine, the fale Samoa.
To illustrate what Thomas Paine means in relation to the fraudulent European version of Christ as compared to our Samoan ancestral version of Christ, the fiery divine intelligence in man, an indestructible part of the Sun according to our creation story.
According to the bible, Jesus Christ is adored as the Son of the Most High. At age 12 Jesus Christ had a run in with merchants who had used and abused his father’s house or the temple. In Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese’s work, he talks about the term “itula”, and how our ancestors used the Sun as a timekeeper during the day. I find this to be particularly true in the three central pillars in the Samoan house of the Divine, the Sun, Ra/La, is at its most high when it’s perfectly aligned with the three pillars (pou tu) of the maota o le tama-alii, fale Samoa.
Jesus Christ performing the miracle of walking on water. I find the Christ referenced here as actually the horizon, Ra/La the sunset, metaphorically walking on water. A tribute and adoration reserved for our elderly, “Ua pulapula la goto,” le soifua.
Jesus Christ was also adored as, “ Wearing a crown, He is the King of Kings.” In the Samoan epistemology, house of the tama-alii or divine symbolises heaven and earth while the Sun Ra/La is the source of that indestructible fiery divine intelligence in us, tagata Samoa. In the wisdom of our ancestors I find the proverb, “O le upu ia Po ma Ao ma lo la fale tulutulu i tao ua so’o o na ta’i ao.” Here I find an oratorical reference to paia o le maota, le taeao ma le aso. And a cosmological adoration of the fale Samoa as the embodiment of the Sun thatched (tulutulu) with spearheads (sun rays) completely surrounded with clouds (ao). As Samoans our sources of wisdom are our proverbs, allegories and stories or myths. They may not be true to modern eyes but buried deep is indeed the truth. If we are able to follow the logic, understand it, then the truth becomes unnecessary.
The confrontation between professor Karl-Heinz Kuhlemann and the pair of LDS missionaries is not new, it is about the truth as they see in their own organised religion. Who has the exclusive rights of communication with God? The God of organised religion as Thomas Paine put it. The same God their ancestors had allegedly communicated with when, “six million Jews were brutally murdered.”
Historically, when the LDS missionaries and Kuhlemann’s ancestors were killing each other during the Dark Ages in Europe, the Sun (Ra/La) was most high in Samoa. God was and still is an inherent part of us whether we accept the European Christ in Jesus and organized religion or the Christ of our ancestors, the indestructible fiery divine of universal spirituality, the God in all of us, some call it life some call it alofa which defines us as tagata Samoa.