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".

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