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

Alagaupu ma Muagagana – Samoan Proverbs and Expressions

My grandfather was a diligent note-keeper. He was a faiava, which means he lived with my grandmother in her village (rather than his own), and he kept several notebooks worth of hand-written records on her family’s history and titles. This grandfather was also a gifted orator. He died when I was very young, but I … Continue reading Alagaupu ma Muagagana – Samoan Proverbs and Expressions

When did we become beggars?

I’m not a social scientist or an economist or a politician or a lawyer. (For those kinds of very intelligent posts, check out our friend NiuZila‘s blog.) I AM an observer, though, who asks a lot of questions… and a recent chat with my mom about her growing-up days in Samoa got me wondering a … Continue reading When did we become beggars?

Do I have to be Samoan to get a Samoan tattoo?

I’m still working on the the final of my 3-part series about the Samoan Tattoo (Tatau) – everything I learned from personal research and from my teacher of Samoan culture, the late Afioga Tofaeono Tanuvasa Tavale. The previous two parts are here: The Truth about the Samoan Tattoo (Tatau), and The Truth about the Samoan … Continue reading Do I have to be Samoan to get a Samoan tattoo?

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

How much did your matai title cost?

Samoans can be precious about our Fa’asamoa, and at the core of the Samoan way of life is our Fa’amatai, or our system of chiefs (matai). Ideally and traditionally, new chiefs are chosen by the consensus of their extended family, an honour bestowed on them after years of cultural tutelage and service. As Samoans tend … Continue reading How much did your matai title cost?