Samoana, Ala Mai: Translating Lota Nu’u
You know how at the end of a long Samoan (usually family) function, someone says the closing prayer then everybody gets up to sing a song together?
I love that.
Not just because it means we can go home soon and eat the food we’ve already loaded in the car (who does that?) ’cause of how it’s already been three hours of speeches and fa’asamoa stuff since they served the feed for the function…
…but also because I love feeling like I’m a part of a united people… singing together… songs of freedom… I mean, patriotism… about God and our country… songs that we all know.
Except, until very recently, I’d be the one humming along through the verses, trying to remember a few words in the chorus so I can bust out my harmonies when it gets to the good part.
My favourite song-that-they-use-to-close-functions was always the one that goes…
SaaaaamoANA!! (and then the echo: Ssssaaamooana)
Ala maaaaiiiii… (aaaallaa mai)
and then something something… and then:
i le PPUUUUuuuuuuuulle uaa maua AAIIII…
and then something something…
I leeeeeee……….. VAAAASAaaeeeeeee……..
And all I knew about this song is that ‘Samoana’ refers to the people of Samoa, and ‘ala mai’ means ‘wake up’.
Turns out (cause I asked my mum again).. the song really is beautiful. It’s a stirring celebration of Samoa as a country and a sombre plea for us as a people to hold on to our inheritance.. our pride and our dignity.
Check it out:
LO TA NU’U, UA OU FANAU AI
Lo ta nu’u, ua ou fanau ai // My dear country, where I was born
Lalelei oe i, le vasa // You are the most beautiful in the ocean
Ua e maua, mai luga // You have obtained from above
O le tofi, aoga // A most important inheritance / duty
Samoana, (Samoana) // People of Samoa
Ala mai, (Ala mai) // Arise (wake up)
Fai ai nei, (Fai ai nei) // Give (now)
Le fa’afetai, (Le fa’afetai) // Your thanksgiving
I le pule, ua mau ai // To the Most High, who gave you
O lou nu’u, i le vasa // Your island / country, here in the ocean
E ua lalelei Samoa // Samoa is beautiful
Lo na valevalenoa // Her lands are beautiful
Ia mo’omia ai ou fanua // Your lands are objects of desire
Tama a Samoa, ala mai // Wake up, sons (children) of Samoa
Ua e sui lou tautai // You have changed your focus of worship (going astray)
Lou mamalu ia mau ai // Hold on to your prestige and dignity
Tuputupu pea mai // May it continue to grow
Talu nu’u ua feagai ai // Because the villages / country we have now
Nu’u mamao ua e maua ai // Other countries have supported
Mea lelei e atia’e ai // With good things to help us develop
Lou mamalu ia mautu // Hold on to your prestige and dignity
Mata’upu, tau Iesu // Especially with regards to Jesus Christ
Ia fai oe ma nu’u tumau // Be a country that sets a standard
Olaola lau fanau // May your children continue to prosper
Ia vi’ia e fa’avavau // And may we praise forever
Le ua pule aoao // Our Lord of Hosts