Samoan Proverb about a Humble Snake

Alagaupu_leGata

Another one of my most favourite Samoan jams is Afai Ua e Musu (I love the version by the Five Stars). It’s basically a guy telling a girl, “If you don’t want me, just tell me. I’m cool. I can hack it. Let’s just get this over with.” And then he quotes Samoan proverbs including a variation of this one about the snake and its eyes:

E fasia o le gata, ae pupula mai ona mata

Which means: The snake is getting killed, but it’s still looking at you (the killer).

If you’re like me and you grew up with a western/Christian sort of mentality, you picture a snake and think of something that is sinister, conniving and evil. That’s probably why this proverb won’t immediately make sense to you.

According to Dr Schultz, our Samoan ancestors had this idea that snakes, unlike just about every other animal, will not defend itself when it’s about to be killed. Instead, it just gives its killer this look. What kind of look? I don’t know. I’d imagine something passively defiant and proud.

But this Samoan expression apparently refers to a sort of humility. It talks about having patience when others are attacking you unfairly. About taking the higher ground and just enduring the injustice without trying to seek revenge.

So back to the guy in the song up there and how he used this proverb. He’s just saying to this girl, “You’re wrong to let me go. But it’s cool. I’m good. I still got love for you.”

Eh, kalofa e.

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Known offline as Lillian (Lils, Lei'a) Arp, Hamo Geek Girl is just learning what it means to be Samoan. When she's not here, she's over at Manaui: Savour Oceania mostly talking about her other favourite topic: Food!

One thought on “Samoan Proverb about a Humble Snake

  1. I love this old proverbs, it true in all meaning…..In life that is how it is, we enjoyed all happy moment with our love ones n that is how it end up. Not always, only for the ones that still seeking happiness. Advice, forgive and forget….there are still life ahead to enjoy n just maybe you’ll find it more better than before.

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