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 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.

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’, … Continue reading Samoan Tradition: 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 … Continue reading Think about it: You don’t need to be told

Eating and standing in a Samoan house? I dare you.

I’ll be the first to admit it. I eat on my feet all the time. Hello, I’m a busy lady. I don’t always have time for a sit down meal, etc. and other excuses like that. Lucky for me, I’m too big now to get a bashing for such horrible manners… but I still try … Continue reading Eating and standing in a Samoan house? I dare you.

Samoan Etiquette – You sit down, too!

In our culture it’s really rude to have conversations with your elders if you’re standing while they’re seated. If you dare to be so inappropriate like that in a very traditional Samoan household, look out for flying saucers (followed by tea-cups, or spoons, etc.) aimed at your head. To show respect, you try to speak … Continue reading Samoan Etiquette – You sit down, too!

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 … Continue reading Samoan Proverb – Sorted like a fishing net in the morning

Tulou – the magic word in Samoan etiquette

Our Samoan etiquette series is for people who are new to our culture or just want to brush up on the kind of behavior expected from ‘good’ Samoans. It’s especially helpful if you want to make a good impression on Samoan elders, perhaps the parents of your (hope to be) significant other? I wrote a … Continue reading Tulou – the magic word in Samoan etiquette

Samoan Etiquette: Mind your body parts!

Samoans seem to be very body-part-conscious. You might call it modest or reserved maybe, but all my training in ‘behaving so my mom, aunts and older cousins don’t give me the evils’ seemed to have a lot to do with how I positioned my body in specific situations. Now that I’m grown, I see the … Continue reading Samoan Etiquette: Mind your body parts!

Samoan Etiquette: Meal Time

When I was in high school my family moved to New Zealand so we could live close to my ageing grandmother. An added bonus was that just about all my mother’s 8 siblings (and their children, and their children’s children) lived in the same neighbourhood, and for as long as my grandmother was still with … Continue reading Samoan Etiquette: Meal Time