'27 years of giving voice to our most vulnerable'

So, as much as I wanted to hide away

Put my head in the sand

Tell myself

I'm too busy

I've got a deadline to meet 

I could not for the life

Of me

Sit on the sidelines and not 

Comment on the work of a fellow artist

Who I haven't yet met

But hope to connect with soon

On this rainy Sunday

In beautiful Christian Samoa.

In the last 24 hours

I have been called blasphemous

An abomination

Such stupidity!




Etc. etc. etcetera!

These were some of the words

That were thrown

At me today


In Samoan

But I won't repeat them

As I have brothers reading

And my Sapolu

Toomalatai grandmother

Would not have approved

But let's just say

These were the words

That used to terrify me

At one time

27 years ago

When someone

Threatened to burn

My first novel

On the streets of Auckland

This is before it won 

The prestigious
Commonwealth Writers Prize

Best First Book

For the South-East Asia 

South Pacific region

And my mother

My beloved mother

Si o'u kiga

Ma le makou aiga

Threw THE party

Guests: All the writers 

Of Samoa

My heroes

Led by lana Afioga Tuiatua

Tupua Tamasese

Who penned the first review

Of where we once belonged

Before it won the prize

Thanks Gatoa'itele Savea

Sano Malifa 

For publishing that

Almost 3 decades ago

It's still in the archives 

If you want 

An inspiring read

Launched by our

Eminent Professor 


Albert Wendt

At the To'oa Salamasina Hall

Who had flown 

From Aotearoa

During the 7th Pacific

Festival of Arts

Where I met and became friends

With a young iconoclastic


Greg Semu

Who had captured his

Soga'imiti self

Nailed to a cross


Blew my mind to pieces

Blasphemous, man!

It's art girl.

Yeah, I see that!

But I had Siniva

Under the clock in Apia

Yelling F you 

To tourists and palagis

Margaret Mead

Derek Freeman

Robert Louis Stevenson

Fanny Stevenson et al. 

And any Peeping Tom 

Seeking to romanticize



A past that never existed.

Back to that party

DJ: Tate Simi

And where was Sia?

Stuck at le uafu i Salelologa

Le'o alu le va'a o le 4

La 'e leaga

The boat needed to be repaired

And won't make the 4 o'clock

Tate on the phone

Sia, can you hear me?

We’re all here at Magrey Ta’s

And i could hear them all singing

Ua tasi lava oe

I lo’u nei faamoemoe

Hip hip!

And the line was cut

Let's go back to Aunty Moelagi’s

It's buffet night

Isn't it Warren?

I was teaching at Logoipulotu

After having heard

Le mapu a Tai'i

Or rather Sister Peta

The principal

We need an English teacher Sia

At a time when journalists 

And universities

From London, Barcelona

 Amsterdam, Berlin, 

New York, Los Angeles, 

Singapore Auckland

USP Laucala

Etc, etc, were calling

Trying to get a hold of

This l’enfant terrible

Offering residencies

Speaking engagements

Which freaked me out

A bit

I chose Safotulafai instead

Because i wanted to see


Living in the most isolated

House on campus

Far away from the Girl's Dorm

Speaking Samoan

Only with the staff

Telling fagogo

Ma kala lusi till dawn

E ke le fefe?

Aren't you scared?

Fefe ia ai?

Scared of who?

When I've got

The pantheon of 

Savaii Aiku

Standing guard

Taema ma Tilafaiga

(Le mavaega i le tai)

Mother to Nafanua

The Warrior Goddess

Daughter of Saveasi'uleo

Ruler of Pulotu

Besides, I've got Jesus


So spoke my ancestral 


But time passes

27 years of

Giving voice to our

Most vulnerable

At the hands of

Our most powerful

Long story short

As I dance

With these mosquitos

(I don't believe in mosquito coils

and my mosquito net is being washed)

I realize that this is

Why we do

What we do

As artists

This is not a popularity contest

My American military father

Would have said

You’re not here to be liked

To be anyone's darling

Or doormat for that matter

But rather

To provoke thought

To engage in constructive criticism

To nurture the exchange of knowledge

And ideas

To be listened to

To be heard

And in the process

Examine ourselves

And what we stand for

And today

I stand for someone else's right

To express themselves

However they want

And I thank Kitiona Simei

For his courage

His deft strokes 

Full of heart

Full of alofa

Gifting me 

The Vanimonimo

The Multiverse

The Lulu

The Owl

Ma Iesu Keriso

Jesus Christ

That lives in me

And I trust

He lives 

In us all.

Lafo i nu'u le aina

Se upu ua sese ai le tusitala

Throw toward an uninhabited island

Any offense of the poet

Ia manuia pea oe.

May you forever 




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