O oe o se Samoa?

By Enid Westerlund 15 December 2022, 11:00AM

Congratulations to the boys in blue! What an awesome end to this year of sports with a win at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, Capetown. It’s been a satisfying performance.

May you consistently play at this level in the next leg. Malo le ta’alo. Now we can all enjoy the holidays with a little bit more oomph and less heart fluctuations. The highlight of the game was not only the win but the post-match interview.

For me, having our Captain speaking Samoan throughout his interview was another proud moment. Manaia tele. I say more, more native languages on international rugby television.

When you are speaking to your own people, English can take second place with all the translating and technology available. They can figure it out. The world can figure it out.

O oe se Samoa? The hooha about Samoans, half Samoans, quarter, whatever percentage, being true Samoans if they don’t speak the language still stands but there is beauty in hearing our language being spoken on the international scene.

Imagine if The Rock speaks Samoan fluently. With all the brown faces in rugby, we hardly hear NZ and Australian born islanders speak Samoan during interviews, so it’s wonderful to see. Why do we have to hold our breath after these rugby matches in case our boys use the wrong tense or completely miss the meaning of the question during post match interviews?

For the love of the game, speak your own language. The language you are comfortable speaking. Take a leaf from the French, Spanish, Portuguese or Arabic speaking athletes in other sports. They do not apologise for answering questions in their own languages whether a translator is present or not because they are speaking to their people, not to please the English speaking viewers.

Sharing our language reminds the world that sports indeed is a universal language, it is not for the English speaking only. It’s a value added and point of difference that we bring to the table as a rugby loving nation. I jokingly said that for us to win every 7s tournament, we need to have more Samoan speaking players for interviews.

It’s been a long time since we’ve been champions of the HSBC sevens. Identity in important as language connects us to our ancestors, the land and to each other. Much research has been done on the success rate of those who only speak one language versus those who are bilingual and firmly grounded in their native tongue. When children learn in their native language, there is a personal connection to learning.

This connection can harness itself to greater appreciate one’s culture and identity. When we are not in tune with this, we can lose interest in many things, education and life to some degree.

It’s midweek but it feels like Christmas already for many of us. As our relatives and friends return home just to put flowers on the grave, hug family and fellowship with us, let us appreciate this year. The year that Samoa won silver in the Rugby League World cup and propelled league as an attractive sport worldwide.

The year that Samoa flags sold out globally because every Samoan wanted to display who they are, many proud moments for the little dot on the map.

I commend you, Captain Vaafauese Apelu Maliko in addressing the supporters and leaders first, giving thanks speaking Samoan. The support, I’m sure is something that is never taken lightly. Whenever we leave for overseas even as students, a family prayer and well wishes are offered. It is not only saying farewell for a short time but also letting go, releasing your loved ones with your blessings as they leave for better opportunities.

Seeing the Samoan language spoken on prime time television is always a proud moment for us all.

Thank you!

By Enid Westerlund 15 December 2022, 11:00AM
Samoa Observer

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