Friday, November 30, 2012

Prize Givings make me cry

Reading articles in the Samoa Observer about prize givings makes me cry.
Yes, Goddesses do cry.
I cry suddenly because it is such an emotive event, seeing a student win and seeing their parents standing proudly by their sidek, humbled (tear jerking moment).
When I think of prizegiving in Samoa, it just about hurts my heart with pride and memories.
Goddesses have hearts. Shock horror.
Prizegiving for me was a fusion of mosooi fragance and teuila, departure, perfectly ironed uniforms and the suspense,...oh the suspense of 'Who is going to be Dux?"
Not I, said the Goddess.
In any case, it is the moment when nothing else matters but victory, praise, recognition and celebration.
I was not always a brilliant student. In fact, I was sorta middle of the road kind of diva with strengths in other areas. Uh huh.
But nothing inspires and challenges me more than prizegivings....seeing someone else walk on that stage. Wow!
"Song playing in my head: It should have been ME!"
I sit there and think "Next year I am gonna walk that aisle and get that prize...I'm gonna study hard and make my momma proud. No more kafao. Study hard, so help me God"
And then it happened, I came first in my class, but did I hear my thoughts?
Not with the choohoooo my mother was sounding from the back of Tooa Salamasina hall to the front and down the seawall, along with the singsong narrative about how her years of catching the boat from Savaii have been rewarded, so praise be and choohoooo".

Indeed, prizegivings make me cry, but not always with pride and happiness.

"That's why I don't try to come first in class, because I don't want my mother to choohooo and tell my life story to the world." Goddess of Savaii.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Congratulations and buy the e-book now, .99cents only!

Congratulations Albert Wendt for winning the Prime Minister's Award last night in Wellington.
Yet another achievement, malo le finau i mea lelei ma le fa'aea atunuu.
As part of this celebration, I see on his facebook page that he is doing a special deal with Amazon for his book:
 Sons of the Return Home for 0.99cent only.

seki a !

One day later,

Wow - may I confess now that this is the first ever e-book I have purchased via Amazon?
Wow friggin wow - this is addictive.
Thank you Panipopo for the gift of Amazon addiction and thank you Albert Wendt the e-book.

But may I be a dinosaur and say, I prefer my books in paper form and I like the feel and the smell of a book. I'm a Judas like that,...I want to see it to believe it.
So e-books are nice, but nah - bring on a hard, wholesome real book any day.


Goddess lost in the Amazon jungle.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pacific Education Plan - island style.

This was launched last week down the road by the Minister of Education and co., much to the dissapointment of many in the education sector as it fails to address bilingualism-Pacific languages...among other legei ma lega.
There was much talk and faigagukus prior to the event about how the plan has failed, then an advocacy group called Raise Pasifika who co-authored insisted on removing their association with the Plan because 'it wasn't bold enough' then someone else in the media said Pacific leaders are divided over this and so on.

I'm sitting here thinking, ....Pacific leaders (including Raise Pasifika) where is your tofa mamao?
As co-authors, leaders and all those who drove this blaali Plan and pushed us common people (who were busy enough anyway) to be part of the consultation process, that really what you have resorted to? Bailing out at the 11th hour? 
Kua kaea kele se kou advocacy.
Aue Malia e, we are in deep Pacific shit.


Ministry of Pacific Islands Affairs...hmmm

Is this Ministry still relevant? Should it still be in existence? 
No comment.

Friday, November 23, 2012

More fascinating insights from Albert Wendt, not just a rugby guy

Please note that when I said "more answers from Albert Wendt" tomorrow, I was using Island time as my framework.
Now that tomorrow is long gone, here goes the rest of my Fesili ma Tali session with the man we now know has a fascinating rugby history and interest.

As today is Thanksgiving in Amerika, may I associate myself with the event and be Fia falealili fua just to say Thank You, Faafetai Tele Lava, Meitaki Maata, Merci Beaucoup Albert Wendt:

"I am thankful for Albert Wendt because without him, Samoan and Pacific literature will be without a powerful influence.
Without him, we as Pacific would still have been misrepresented and misunderstood.
I am thankful he writes about real issues and the real us, dispelling palagis misconceptions of us as wearers of grass skirts and strumming yukuleilei and singing about seashells beyond the reef. At sunset.

I am also thankful for having social media connections, where I reconnected with Ms Wendt (Lani Young) whose uncle is Albert, and as a result I got to ask him questions. Thank you Lord for nieces who recommend their not so brilliant students to their famous relations. Thank you blogger, facebook, gmail and especially , thank you Lani Wendt Young!

Fesili Muamua) How fast - (do you view )- is the evolution of the Samoan Culture? Where do you think it is going? and Is it bad or good?  (question from Herman Walter Arp).

This is a very difficult question.
It’s a very large question about a whole culture and its history and how it is changing. My novels especially try to answer it. My novels embody how I see the history and culture of Samoa over the years, from its origins to now. I didn’t intend them to be that way. In my search to understand myself using my writing, I wrote the novels and so forth. And the Wendt fictional world I’ve created embody my beliefs, preferences, philosophies, prejudices, attitude, and so forth. And many people don’t like my fictional world, my version of Samoa and so forth. I don’t mind that at all. We all have our versions of ourselves and our ways of life, and those as I’ve said depend of who and what we are. And in basic ways, cultures change according to their own laws and not to how we want and expect them to change and be!

When you want me to make a moral judgement of those changes by asking ‘is it bad or good’? I’ve given the answer in my writing over the years. Because of my own moral vision and preferences, I see some of the changes as being beneficial and others as being ‘bad’ or detrimental. Others see it differently. And so it always will be.

In my old age, so to speak lightly, I’m more forgiving and tolerant. As you know, from my books I was and still am angry about colonialism and all its manifestations, and about political corruption and racism, and exploitation of the weak by the powerful, and other things.

Despite all my griping and complaints and attacks on many aspects of our society and way of life, I have to admit that I’ve had a very very privileged life compared to most people!

Fesili Lua): What are your best memories of Samoa College?

Best memories of Samoa College? My time at Samoa College was one of the happiest times for me and my young family. My family – my children – grew up within the caring Samoa College atmosphere. They spent a lot of time with the boarders and at the school. I was fortunate to be part of a school aiga made up of the brightest students and best teaching staff in the country. The students were respectful of their elders and teachers and, most importantly, they really wanted to learn. I’ve already talked about the rugby memories. I loved making friends with my students – some of them have remained my friends all these years. Many of them have become successful citizens and leaders. Most of them have raised and are raising wonderful families. Many of them migrated to look for work. I now love running into them where ever I travel. I now even run into their children and grandchildren who come up to me and introduce themselves!

I still remember some of the so-called ‘naughty’, rebellious students I had, with great fondness. I often recall the school assemblies when I was in front of the students listening to their marvellous singing; and during the year watching their outstanding performances of our dances and songs; and when they performed their own plays. I will always remember how we organised, financed and got the Samoa College Fale built – it taught me hell of a lot about our building traditions and history and arts, and how to enhance our beliefs in cooperation and cooperative effort and alofa and fa’aaloalo and agalelei. We must never lose those.

Today when I visit Samoa I always call in to see my old school. A few weeks ago, I called in unexpectedly and met the principal and some students. It was great to see the buildings had been renovated and repainted.

Fesili Mulimuli): I would love to have more young people reading your books Albert. We were forced encouraged to read your books by my persistent mother, and I came to appreciate it as I grew up. I loved the fact that it was written by a Samoan about the realities that I was in. You didn't mince words - and for me, it was such a relief because everything else I was reading was sugarcoating the Samoa I was growing up in. I related to your characters and their struggles.
Now, for the younger 'generators' of today who don't know about moekolos and dodgy politicians and matai titles for cash, can they still relate?

The young ’generators’ just need to go to the books and find out for themselves. If they’re Samoan, hopefully they’ll see themselves in them and learn things about their ancestors and parents and themselves. And about pain and suffering and joy and happiness and loneliness and violence and overcoming the odds. And being human. I try to have memorable characters and storylines that’ll hold the reader’s attention. If my novels are any good, people from other cultures and times will enjoy them and learn something from them. I enjoy novels from all different cultures and countries and times, and all different kinds of novels and stories and poetry.

I’m also addicted to movies and television. You can see that influence in my writing and poetry.

Faafetai tele lava mo le avanoa Maualaivao Albert Wendt.

-You can now purchase the ebook: The Adventures of Vela on Amazon, for only $9.99.
-You can also follow him of Facebook.  because its pretty cool to say, "oh, Albert, yeah nah, we're good Facebook  friends".

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stop using Racism as an excuse.

I was reading through Samoa Observer as usual when I saw a headline:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Malo lava Manu Samoa for smashing Wales (:

ia, ...Now you can finally get the wine that you were meant to receive last year at the RWC.

 ....right after you beat France, please.
That is all.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Telling my fagogo in real life.

Today, for the first time in years, I told a fagogo to a live audience.

I was nervous at first, particularly as it was a bunch of teens who have the attention span of ...teens.

This was done as part of a programme offered to young Pacific students who have leadership potential. Ten are selected from their schools and spend the day in various sessions. Today's theme was 'Identity'.

Someone pulled out of a workshop and I was the last resort.

Anyhow, I can't repeat much because I forget but what I found funny was that the kids were laughing at parts of the story that were not meant to be funny. And that made me laugh.

I liked that telling a fagogo in real life is as animating as it is here.

Thank you for reading my madness since 2006.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

For more enquiries and bookings about my tuigas,

Please email me at and ideally not a phonecall to my employer....this is something I do on the side, not during work hours(seriously true story!)
Ma le faaaloalo lava,
Pulega ma le au faigaluega.

Sexual geographies and saving a life

In recent days, PM John Key was in trouble for saying "That's so gay" to a guy wearing a "gay-looking" tshirt on radio.
He defended his statement by saying kids say it all the time.
This is true, kids say this all the time here in Aotearoa, and during our programmes with young people, when they don't like something, they say "Thats gay".
I constantly have to restrain my right hand for uppercutting their chins. Because, you see, its an educational programme and physical abuse is only reserved for a classroom in Savaii. Pity really coz some of these kids need it....but hey, stop it, Violence is not the answer! haha.

Now, the reason I write this is rather selfish....its not in defence of gays or lesbians or gravies or whatnot.

It's more so to say, ...Gay bashing is so so so last season, get over it people!

When I went to uni to study Geography, most people thought I was testing soil samples and studying cartography....well, partly. Most of the time, I was choosing papers that were more Human geography...more people geography.
What I loved was learning about sexuality identities, and about gendered, my brain was suddenly awake.

You see, I come from a place where we keep bragging about the third gender, we keep boasting about how they are socially accepted and so forth.

But in reality, there is much more that we do not discuss, because it is tapu.
We love the third gender for their entertainment value and floral arrangement-designer-comedian value, but otherwise, we bow our heads in prayer and look the other way when the priest condemns homosexuality.

But like said before, I ain't defending no one, as I have yet to meet a third gender with insecurity issues....more the contrary, they are security threats if I disagree with them. Pugi.

What we all need to accept is this, people are different, all of them,...we need to celebrate everyone's uniqueness and accept people for who they are.

If you like them, good.

If you dislike them, chus walk away and don't waste your breath speaking ill of them.

Remember, you speaking ill of someone without real basis can have very very negative implications. E fai vae o tala, Stories have legs, and in Samoa, stories, or tall tales have legs faster than Hussein Bolt except those legs multiply and reproduce, so be careful what you say.

Be prepared to accept change in this world and be prepared to accept people for who they are., we have had so many young people take their own lives partly because they are misunderstood (And no, that is NEVER an excuse for taking your own life, seek help!) please, be open minded, shut up and listen for a change, and never know whose life you are saving today.
And if you think no one understands you, then please stay around and in time, they too will understand, but for now, you are important, you are special and don't ever forget that.

Choose Life please, because there is only one of are unique!
The Low Down, helping young people understand and deal with depression.
Gay Pride and public space