Tuesday, May 23, 2006

When will we ever learn?

On the news tonight, another young Samoan woman has gone to extreme measures.
This time, she gave birth, disposed of the new born in a cold winter garden,
Outside her Halls of Residence.
While she suffered from internal bleeding.

She was one of the gifted few,
Who won an academic scholarship to study at the University of Otago
Which is well known for its successful Pacific Mentoring Programme.

Questions are now being asked,
Many questions indeed.

I have my own questions.

Where are her friends?

Where is her sperm-donor?
Why did she do it?


I can't imagine the pressure she felt, knowing she is carrying, but also knowing the high expectations from her family, friends, church and GOvernment.
I feel so sorry for this poor girl.

Someone will hate me for saying this(and frankly i don't give two shites) but the parents, the church, the friends, the Scholarship Committee should all take a piece of the blame.

And I too take the blame.

Because we as a community are quick to praise the good, but ignore the real issues at hand.

Every day, someone is suffering, and theyre that person you snubbed on the street, the friend you forgot to call, the child you slapped on the face because she dirtied her pink shoes.

The bottom line is, we are not the tight knit community we brag so loudly of.

There's holes, gaps and tears that drag us all downhill, theres abandoned children, battered wives, depressed faafafines and frustrated old men.

For scholarship students, the pressure is 3D times infinity because they have been heaved the expectations of success. Deliver or be disgraced.

But they should know that the weight is not their own to carry.

I.e: * momma should have talked to her about contraception, instead of assuming she's a virgin until marriage.

*The partner should have had protection

*The Government should have a set Action Plan to deals with these matters.

Back in my days of Noah, James Waterhouse used to cruise by Uni, ask us how were doing, and then off on his merry way. Brief but reassuring.

I queried about this back in 2002 when I was on the verge of incompleting my papers because i was lazy, skipping classes, laid back and simply not prioritising my work.

I suggested then that perhaps there should be a monitoring system for Samoan scholarship students.

Towards the end of my degree, Tasha Shon was working at the Samoan Embassy.
She wrote us all a letter saying she's there if we need help, yadayadayada, and then silence.

It seems like the Government knows that the problem is there but are not keen to solve it.


Well, what would it be? The peanuts for a consultant or the thousands wasted when students fail and get charged with manslaughter?

There needs to be a stronger support network/system for Samoan students studying abroad.

We mustn't forget that these students come from Samoa (Savaii included, yay!).

Where there are no secrets, no privacy, no downtime, everybody is everybody's business.

At home, you are surrounded by nagging relations.

At school, you are spoon fed and disciplined by teachers who are not afraid to whack your fingertips with the wood duster.

You are constantly supervised, controlled, interfered with and involved.

Then you get the scholarship, and all of a sudden, you are....




That very change has lead to the demise of many, I am no exception.

On my first year, I was so overwhelmed by the 'life', of freedom, no parents, no uncles, no aunties, no teachers, no church, no "discipline".

I had a ball, (balls actually), drank like a fish (still do actually, shet), partied like madness, and best of all, the Government of Samoa financed our lifestyle.

Every two weeks, we queu up to the ATM, and become one day millionaires, while our poor families pray and praise their intelligent child who is studying hard overseas.

The reality hit hard, when I failed my first batch of assignments, and then the next, and then I got on the phone and cried to my mommy like a whinny 5 year old.
She said to me:

"Missie, You did not pray enough"

The bottom line is: These students need help, NOW.

Monday, May 22, 2006

On the question of faith,..

The Da Vinci Code is banned in Samoa.
Because being the religious church-going God-fearing Sunday feasting country that we are, it would disrespectful to offend and cause distress to the angelic masses.
Freedom of Religion is not a light matter in our beloved country.
In some cases, expressing that freedom will land your balls on the sacrificial chopping board (metaphorically speaking / sometimes literally).

Last year, I went home and told my devout Catholic relative (Lucia) about the Da Vinci Code book.
She is my mother’s brother’s wife’s mother from Safotu.
Safotu is the village with the three churches, that every Tom, Dick and Sione sings about “Metotisi, Lamosa ma le Katoliko…Lou vai sa fee, lou vai taele, e pei o le kiona lona malulu tele.
Anyhow, back to my little conversation with Aunty Lucia,
“Lucia, this man’s book suggests that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had a child.”
Lucia looks at me, her face pale with shock and turned to her grandchild,
“Filisi! Get me my handbag, you pogaua!”
Filisi runs to the shelf with Bona Mere, Mother of Christ porcelain and grabs the Elvis Presley handbag, hands it to Lucia, and she holds my hands with so much urgency,
“Fotu, let us pray, Hail Mary, Full of Grace…x10.”
Oh yes, the answer to all our problems is through prayer.
And I agree.
"I am certain that somewhere in our brains or train of thought, a generator sputters into life every time we pray" Philosopher Jackson. J. 2006 "Psychotic Blog Meanderings"
I must confess.
I do not pray as much as my momma thinks I do.
I pray in times of need, desperation, sadness, achievement, but only the extreme stuff.
I remember when we were young’er’ and we all had to sing the generic ‘Malie Pule le tama e’ before we chow on our taro and brainy fish (my fancy name for faiai elegi).
I also remember praying that when I should open my eyes the herring would have transformed into KFC drum sticks.
Needless to say,
It didn’t happen.
And I began to question things.
So one day, at Sunday school, I summoned the confidence to ask one pressing question.
“Axcuse me geegar? (Transliterated: Excuse me teacher)
“If Jesas changed waters into wines, how cum we still eat faiai elegi all ta tyme?”

Spare the rod, spoil the child.

That’s the sister principle to ‘prayer’ in our Treasured Isles of the South Pacific.
Beating a child to the pulp is love, or so my Uncle said.
Discipline is beating your child till she cries, and then grabbing her by the face and asking "Why you cry? Huh? Answer me! Why the hell are you crying? Kuu laia! Stop it, okay? Stop crying you ungrateful alelo”
“Do you know why I fasi you?”
“Becoz we love you!”
Love is strange I realise, Love is expressed in peculiar ways.
What happened to 'Love is kind, Love is patient, Love conquers all?"
They must have skipped that page of the Bible.
“O le kama a le kagaka e fafaga I upu, ae o le kama a magu e fafaga I fuga o laau”
Feed the human with words (and a 2 by 4), while birds/animals are fed with leaves and fruits”
Give me fruit anyday, I say.
Prayer is Power.
And that power translates to large expensive churches, hefty donations (alofa=love), chubby servants of God and pathetically broke church goers.
Oh yes,
Prayer is Power in our priddiful country.

I am a hypocrite,
That much I know.
I smile to the priest and bid him ‘Good Day’
When deep down I really want to say ‘Stop sucking the village dry and go on a diet you bloated "#@^#$("(censored by the National Council of Churches).

I surely know how to digress far and yonder, that is a fact.
I started with Da Vinci and ended with a falling out with the bloated priest.
Oh well, same difference.
But if it is any consolation, I will be buying the first copy of Da Vinci movie and sending it to Samoa, and perhaps set up the Priory of Samoa, after all, isn’t that what Freedom of Religion is all about?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Tell me your dreams honeychild, tell it with meaning...

Thank you thank you for your response Fotu.V, Nydia, Mega, Dasifi(still awaiting Jen, Relle, Reesa, Tel and others who wanna spik deir moind) i'm absorbing all this..and its rather thought-provoking, i.e. meaning i will keep asking you more questions about ICT.

A few years ago, the Lotu Taiti (CCC of Samoa) encouraged churches to introduce computers to their villages.

In my village, the reverend's place has been converted into a computing class every week, with Simon teaching Basic Microsoft applications,...yeah, pisshead Simon in the house of God, teaching innocent sheperds to upload images, hehe..oh yes, ICT has its twisted ironies.
Computers in Lalomalava, wouldya buhlieve it?
But back to the issue at hand,

There is an ICT Committee in Samoa, chaired by Fuatai Purcell, they drew up the ICT Stategies a few years back among IT stakeholders in Sachic.
The whole idea is to embrace the changes and ensure we are not being left behind.
And frankly, I take my hat/TUIGA ILAILA(yes, i'm a sacrificial goddess, don't b chalass) off to people like her (fuatai) and Oketevi, (BOTH WOMEN RUNNING THE ICT SHOW, YAY!!!) for their role in highlighting the plight of third world countries and women.

But then, i worry, oh yes, i fret and worry, when their work is not continued,

And yet, we have so much potential, look at the calibre of bloggers who frequent these cyberalleys, theyre bilingual, intelligent(most of the time when theyre not bitching hehe) and not afraid to speak thier mind,.

What are we waiting for?

And more importantly, Why are we not channelling our potential into constructive and/or worthy platforms?

Are we to be blamed?
Do we point a finger at the ones running the show?
Do we wait for them to care or should we initiate, take action, be proactive and be responsible?

What are you waiting for?
I realise now, the U.N.thousands flushed into constructive discussions online are largely ignored and not accessible to the average sione/sieni.
Maybe they should re assess,
Maybe those highly paid UN workers should be fired, or ummmm, fasi'd.
Maybe we should do something about it.

I'm sure you guys are rolling your eyes now and thinking, Fotu please get back to lipstickchat and bitchfesting', well, i will, thats for sure, but at the same time, why don't we put meaning into these daily blog meanderings???

I need your thoughts, and seriously, I welcome your feedback,..i.e. imagine if dasifi comes up with the new topic next week and we all must comment on it, then nydia fronts up with a pressing issue the following week??

Come to think of it, you guys were all apalled and touched by the loss of two babies a week ago, was it the system? the parenting? the neglect? the hygiene or sheer bad luck? What if others could learn from it if we discussed it constructively?

Theresa's comments echo those of concerned mothers everywhere,
Jen and dasifi seem to be studying (sometimes, hahah), are you under pressure?(prolly not, heheh), inspired to share? unmotivated? challenged?

Nydia, Fotu, Tia are all in samoa working(sometimes), they are living and breathing(the dust at the seawall) the real issues faced by young predifuls after the end of studying abroad? Their experience must surely prepare other graduates, or encourage them to overstay in nz and avoid serving the Bond with the Govt...(or not)!
Don't be discouraged tho, we can still be our true crude selves about these discussions, thats fo sure, thats what makes us truly 'unique' and gorgeous' and...okay, enough flattering you nutters.

world peace man, world peace and harsher corporal punishment for parole violators,

over and out,

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

ICT in Samoa

I need to pick your brains...yes, i'm talking to you, Nydz, Fotu(who also happens to be in the midst of ICT), Reesa, tel, Jen, relle, mex and other samoan young preddifools out there.

Don't say you don't know ...coz you do, youre a victim of ICT right about now!

The issue: ICT and Youth.

now now, don't click away from this entry please, just becoz it's not drama don't mean youre gonna stray into cyberpubs and cyberparties.

Stay with me. Se'i faaaoga ai kou braincells ga o loo kafafao i legei kaimi:

ICT and Samoa

As a young berson, what has been your experience with ICT, Information Communication Technology?

Secondly, Are you aware of the Millenium Development Goals regarding ICT or MDG at all?(don't be shy to admit not,...that aiight, i'm just learning damn it! hehe)..

Do you have Internet at home?

What needs to be improved?

okay, thats enough questions for now, but please please give me some feedback, i'll happily copy it in this post as constructive ideas. and you'll win a Tropny (or not).



Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sticks and Stones may hurt, but words leave irreparable wounds

Lalomalava is like any other Samoan village.

Everyone knows what everyone is doing, going to do and did last week, last year, last decade.

Stories are told, retold, changed and eventually made legends. Elders speak in soft tones and lament of yesteryear when the influenza epidemic killed our people. The ‘death sickness’ that wiped out lives in many villages, leaving a community to mourn, while the dead are indignantly heaved unto government trucks, wrapped in aging fine mats and tossed into mass graves of sorrow and despair.

Our elders whose eyes glimmer with hope as they sing of our proud traditions. Our proud people. Our proud measina. Our proud triumphs from years of slavery, suffering and violence.

Wounds are revealed, pain is shared, victories proudly announced, and violence is uttered in a language of hatred, fear, disgust, threats and childhood circles.

My childhood was no different.

When you have a weakness, by nature or nurture, you are constantly reminded of these deficiencies.

Kokive has polio and everyone calls him ‘cripple’, pipili. He could not care less, he would just whack you with his walking cane as hard as he could. His use of vulgar terms made him the receiving end of many beatings from the thin edges of the coconut fibre broomstick.

Palama, a hard working young man, has problems hearing so everyone ridiculed and called him a stinking deaf 'faipepe.'

Moe has big lips and cannot shut his mouth for too long, thus he is called 'guku faamaga, guku elo' meaning gaping mouth and stank breath.

We taunt him as we run as fast as our little legs can carry us, for a rain of stones is guaranteed to follow.

Fialupe is always caught and fined by the village fono for peeping at women bathing at the village pool, thus his title Ku Paipa. Ku Paipa literally meaning standing near the tap (water pipes), or Ku Kekee, standing on tip toes. Sao being epileptic earned him the name 'maikeke ululeaga' transliterated ‘shaking nutcase.’

Tala is teased for being Vae sasape, screwed up legs. Petesa for being ai lalafa, because her skin is marred with spots and rash.

I did not escape this name calling. I was ridiculed for having skinny legs, likening me to the tuli shorebird with its stick-like legs. Whenever I fought with my cousin over the rocking horse, she would yell at me, “You skinny vae tuli!”. Meanwhile, I would keep on pulling her hair screaming “Diana Popo Masa!”. Popo Masa being the ideal rhyme to describe a rotting coconut that we discard to the pigs.

Fifteen years on, I ponder, are we crippled by our discourse of negativity?

Despite these snide jibes, Palama went on to become an excellent fisherman, Petesa married well and is now a respected wife of a village pastor. Koki featured on television for his polio complications and was presented numerous gifts from donor organizations. He has since become the popular dude that you 'had to’ hang out with. Tala was given the chiefly title of his family. Diana moved to Seattle, graduated and looks every inch the Samoan beauty, far from being Popo Masa.

Unfortunately, Fialupe continues peeping as unsuspecting women bathe at sunset. Moe still can not keep his mouth shut, and has also now taken up the art of ku paipa with Fialupe. Sao was found floating at the village pool one Sunday morning, having had an epileptic seizure while swimming alone.

As for the demeaning labels?

They never go away. Whenever we see Koki on the Health Ministry television advertisement, we say in an affectionate manner, ‘We are so proud of our pipili (cripple)!’. Whenever Palama returns with a boat full of fish, his mother cries with pride, ‘my beloved faipe (deaf boy) is such a blessing!’

And when Petesa visited the village with her beautiful children and well-off husband, the old ladies weaving their mats with heads bowed would mutter, ‘Petesa has come a long way from being a colourful collection of spots and all rashes on earth.”

I still have to wonder whether some of us have become victims of our own close-knit societies. Can we move forward with a clean slate, start afresh and erase the faults we are born with?

I wonder if we could have saved our loved ones from taking their own lives if we had called them beautiful things?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Miss Samoa New ZEaland winner, and whatever else i can recall,...

it's official, Josie Fuimaono won Miss Samoa New ZEaland tonite at Manukau.

10 priddifool girs competed for the crown.,

I personally picked 2 other girls to win, but as always, i guessed wrong...might have something to do with smirnoff green apple and limonada la lea, but nevermind, it was a nice line up, 5 girls even get to compete for miss asia pacific.

cindy was a drawcard, she did an item involving the usual hip-thrust towards the NZ government representative in the crowd.

jubine did some girl's traditonal wear,...basically same thing from last year and the year before that,...ruby taituuga style.

Peter tamasese did the talent for one girl whose name was something like Van Hoe...??? She was so friggin' gorgeous...and danced her siva like the dancers from the 70's ...stunning gal.

and then came the interview:
Emcee: If you were to be transformed into an animal, what would it be and why?
Contestant: I would be a parrot, because in Samoa in the olden days, parrots feathers are used for making fine mats and there was no need to dye the feathers like we do nowadays, thats why i want to be a parrot.

ahem....so, i asked my drunken neighbor, 'so, she wanted to be a parrot so she could get plucked?'
thank God for Smirnoff apple flavoured vodka

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

When i think of home....

i think of mine familia in Savaii who i miss so much until i spend two weeks with them and they drive me thru the wall, vice versa.