Not relating to the article above, I recently shared about faalavelave’s, Samoan family functions and events, and what it means to Samoan people, excluding the financial strains it brings upon our Samoan people as relayed in the article above. I shared something else with advantages others invest in such as wills and insurances. Besides the point of this article, I want to share what I think of Samoan faalavelave’s.
We mourn differently as Samoans. That’s how the world perceives and measures the level of respect & love vested in the hearts of the family-oriented Samoan people. Some soldiers & workers are only allotted a certain amount of time for leave and/or PTO. Some also endure hardships with AWOL (absent without leave) when they travel home for funerals. It’s hectic but clarification is good.
When you put in that leave request, make sure you thoroughly explain your culture so people can simply understand how Samoan funerals are different and how its preparations are a composition of week long activities prior to the day of the funeral. It almost feels like a systematic tradition. It’s like but barely (due to traditions yielding & meshed with newer practices) an old remedy ancestors used by gathering together to bear gifts for the mourning family. It’s a functional family tradition to support one another – the palagi or anyone outside of Samoan ethnicity call it a will and insurance.
While the will renders rights to funeral coordinators or legal representatives to contact immediate families, subsequently burying or cremating the deceased in less than a week; the Samoan way requires attention to detail and careful planning weeks prior. Word is then conveyed to both sides of paolo(inlaws) & gafa (extended lineages & families).
Families gather accordingly heeding plans from immediate family members, and tasks are then executed. In the Samoan way, for most who don’t have wills, their colors and tasks are usually taken or arranged based on spoken or visionary dialogues – a hint of where they want to be buried or what they loved, fave colors etc. For others, they legally follow a person’s will. While insurance covers everything for others, the Samoan way is quite similar to a tenet merited – a significant must which requires everyone to contribute starting from the high chief of the family down to the youngest village lad or the taule’ale’a – even a person married to an immediate family member. His or her families, or in-laws, customarily partake in the event. In Samoa, you’ll usually hear families refer to them as “paolo ma ni gafa tau tupu, tau i le lagi, o se faamalumaluga ou te malu a’i.” Their purpose is monumental as their contributions also marks 2 vital events in the Faasamoa: 1)Faailoa aiga (inlaws’ recognition of support) 2)Faamatua (fine mats revealing the other family of the children).
Although our traditions are slowly fading in this evolving world, there is but a lot of love and respect for my culture and how it continues to gleam uniquely among its rarity of preserved practices. From Samoan events, there’s little sarcastic slang names procured through the process like aiga basket, aulelei keige ole aiga, su’e mea i faalavelave a isi, makagofie gaoo o le aso, soia le ai savali ma ku, nimo manatu ile lauga, foliga aiu ma faauu, manaia tapenaga, fai vae o pusa elegi and so forth..American Samoa has only one plane that flies twice a week and a round trip ticket is approximately 2grand if lucky with Hawaiian Miles. Those preparations aren’t simply executed but the perfect saying in Samoa that notably ceases hardships is: Many hands and shoulders makes work lighter. O le limalima faatasi ma le so’oso’o tauau e mama ai so’o se avega. That makes the Samoan culture more exceptional along with similar traits of Israel. Like Israel, Samoa ingrains its neighborly villages with matai’s or chiefs as well as families. For instance our pyramids of chiefs are labeled respectively while families are considered Sâ’s – like sä Levî, sã Iutã, as transcribed in the Book of Joshua, relatively like our aiga, families, Sã Pai or Sâ Lafai.
Embrace your Samoan culture with love and share about it with the world so they’ll understand. In case someone is mistaken, nope, aiga basket is not a culture. It’s stupidity. Value original rituals, and practices. They’re fond punaoa, resources and measina, treasures that exhibits our rare but unique Faasamoa. No matter where you travel in this world as a Samoan tamaita’i (female) and tama/ali’i (male), go with assurance and pride in your aganuu, culture, as it entails brief and vital values of who you are without explanation and where your feet touches. That is your faasinomaga.
Now with explicit information on the article shared above, I cannot speak for it as I was born in American Samoa and raised in both Samoan islands. We perceive and see things differently and too often I’ve experienced dialogues of financial strains. For example, having only one ketchup and mayo jar in the fridge the whole year until there’s a faalavelave where families splurge big in foods and gifts as well as monetary donations but face hardships with feeding children.
I agree that the love is there and should always be vested among our traditions, but there should be limited ground. Our Samoan culture is so big and monumental from one family to another, deep roots, lineages and so forth. That is us from the beginning and we cannot hinder what has been a part of us from the beginning as it is with belief that our histories and our genealogies were recited and repeated often so much that we know exactly who we are. Our faasinomaga, which is our place in this world.
What we have to be careful and take note also is the difference between real tradition and evolving, yielding traditions. Meaning, Samoan Fa’asamoa traditions were mere, humble and simple creations of fine mats, and livestock, not money, canned food products and Westernized practices. Some fine mats are now firmly designed with feathers with different unusual decors. Other fine mats are no longer used by Samoan people.
Livestock are becoming rare as canned products and cases are mostly used. Everything has yielded over to monetary gifts which is not part of the Fa’asamoa. The newer generation that struggles with any practices should be speaking up more for it and investing time in faalavelave’s to know, to evoke and compel examples, to inspire and to be the first to set that example where, perhaps our leaders and village councils might take notice in the mou (fading) away of our real Samoan practices and adjust our traditions to the original practices.