Traditionally, the Samoan man had a very important role.
He was the protector of his sister (and of his mother And then his wife, ... In that order:)
So much so that it was accepted that a man will put his life in harms way to protect his sister, who is his covenant, his feagaiga.
When I think of the word feagaiga, I marvel at the depth of our language.
Feagaiga means to face, just picture two people facing each other.
It's a relationship, a balanced relationship.
When missionaries came to Samoa, they wrote in their journals interesting practices relating to this feagaiga.
John Williams wrote of women being carried on platforms and treated with utmost respect by the men around them.
(sigh- I am definitely born in the wrong era).
Central to this feagaiga is the va tapuai, the sacred space that ensures peace and harmony.
When you hear people say "Teu le va"(Protect the va) it means one thing, ...you have or are about to breach that sacred space.
Doing so will upset the va fealofai between you and those around you.
*Granted, the missionaries had to reign on our PO fiafia and take the feagaiga from us, giving it to their church servants instead and sending us to the kitchen. The nerve!
Now, before you roll your eyes and ask why I'm boring you with this munted Samoan fagogo, I actually have a point to make. (Alleluia).
Today, as we move so surely towards Palagi ideals and worldviews, it is of utmost importance to still keep hold of the values that assured peace and harmony for us and our loved ones.
I wish sometimes there was still this emphasis on the feagaiga between a sister and a brother.,
It makes me wonder, how so many Samoan women today would have benefitted from the protection of their brothers.
How many Samoan women have lost their mamalu and have become exposed to unfortunate situations because they are not malu, 'sheltered' by their brothers?
Something to think about.
Goddess without a Platform.
PS: I am not a historian, or a self proclaimed Samoan expert, so please don't take offence in my personal interpretations above. They are my interpretations. Faamagalo le sui pea iai se upu ua Sala. Amene,