To be to the Chinese

13 April 2017

Re: The difference between Chinese and Samoans

“When was the last time your family had a funeral and a Chinese business owner gave you some money to offer his condolences to your fa’alavelave? I won’t say it hasn’t happened to you but it hasn’t happened to me.”

Michael, I don’t know whether you understand how faalavelave works. You only give money if you have some kind of link to the deceased person or the deceased person’s family. Usually it is a genealogical link. If you have absolutely no link to that deceased person or family, what are you going to say to the family when you present your money?

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You need to state who you are, what your link is, and hence why you are there. If you are a complete stranger, it is totally inappropriate to be there presenting something because the concept of reciprocity means that you are going to get something back. That means that the only reason you are going is to get something back. O le fia tagata ma le fia mana’o mea.

So why would you suggest that Chinese business people must go and give money to a faalavelave when they may have absolutely no link to the deceased person or family?

Anyway, those Chinese who are married into Samoan families do give generously as part of their obligations. Unlike palagi culture, the Chinese culture does share similarities in extended family obligations with Samoan culture. Especially when it comes to looking after your parents in old age.

 

P.S. Jeffrey

13 April 2017

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