Why you shouldn’t become a Samoan matai (and also, why you should)

As I was learning about Samoan culture, I remember deciding that I wasn’t interested in gaining a taupou title (the highest ranking female role in a family/village). Instead I wanted to become a proper matai – which still isn’t common amongst women.

But then I did some research and a lot of observation… and I evaluated my lifestyle and attitudes towards family and village affairs… and then I had to finally admit to myself that I’m not cut out to be a matai. It’s not a role that I could wholeheartedly commit to, for number of reasons.

If you’re considering putting your name forward for a matai title, maybe have a think about what that would really mean to you.

Matai – The Path to Becoming a Samoan Chief [Part 1]

Image from Wikipedia

How do you become a Samoan Matai?

The good news is, if you’re even a little bit Samoan I’m 99.9% sure you’re the suli (heir) to at least one matai title.

Once a title becomes available, any suli can petition for it.

He or she just has to have some support (it doesn’t hurt to have other matai or well respected elders arguing for you) and also, ideally, a track record of service to the family.

O le ala i le pule, o le tautua

..is a well-known Samoan proverb that means, “The path to leadership is service”.

You might find that your bid to become a matai is much better supported if your family can see how much you love and labour (and contribute financially to fa’alavelave *cough*) for them.

A Traditional Samoan Wedding… with a Tangent about Making Babies [+ Video]

Image is from Seventysixdesign on Etsy

I’ve heard some stories about weddings back in the ancient, less Christian days of Samoa. Don’t quote me on this stuff, cause I can’t remember who told me these tales, but apparently…

True(ish?) Story Time

In the old days, a bride’s virginity was, of course, of paramount importance. (Nobody said anything about the groom’s virginity, but anyway…)

SO, on their wedding day, a special fale was designated for the couple to consummate their union. A section of this house was screened off with hanging fala (woven mats) and inside this makeshift room, the conjugal bedding featured pure white siapo (thinly pounded mulberry sheets).

After the official ceremonies of the day, the wedding couple was ushered behind the fala to, um, get to know each other, while their older relatives (usually female) kept watch on the other side of their flaxen curtains…

Be careful when you praise Samoans

In the western world, complimenting someone on their appearance or accessories is a great way to strike up a conversation. It doesn’t always work like that for Samoans. I remember one time, I mentioned to a relative that her bag was pretty, and then when she tried to give it to me, I was like,…

Samoan Tradition: Ifoga

One Samoana Throwback: First published Jan 4, 2009, this post explores a tradition of forgiveness like no other. It’s a fact of life: humans are attracted to drama… which makes me – and apparently, Samoans in general – oh so very human. I don’t remember when I first heard about the Samoan tradition of ‘ifoga’,…

Think about it: You don’t need to be told

This guideline covers a few different situations. First, it’s good manners in any culture to use your initiative to correct things that are not right. For example, are the dishes piling up? Wash them. Is a log blocking somebody’s driveway? Move it. It’s common sense and basic human courtesy. We shouldn’t need to be asked…

Samoan Proverb – Sorted like a fishing net in the morning

As the heart of the Pacific ocean, it makes sense that so many of Samoa’s alagaupu & muagagana (proverbs & idioms) use the imagery of fishing. Like this one: O le upega e fili i le po, ‘ae tatala i le ao Its literal translation: The fishing net is knotted (or braided) at night, but…