Our guest blogger Anna Taylor shares a quick snapshot of (Western) Samoa’s history – from our origin story, to European colonial rule, to independence. Come take a walk with her back in time…
The History of the Samoan people is one that is shrouded in a lot of ambiguity. Several theories have been put forward about where the Samoans came from. One commonly stated theory is that the Samoans came from East Indies. However, the Samoans have a different story altogether. According to Samoans, the other Polynesians might have originated from the West Indies. As for them, they are the cradle of the Polynesian culture. They believe that they are the original inhabitants of Samoa and were created by their traditional god when he was making the universe long time ago.
Despite being seen as a very exotic far away land, Samoa became a very busy shopping mall from as early as 1770.This happened when ships were moving along the spice route started docking in the Island Samoa on regular basis. The Samoans were very unfriendly to foreigners and this explains the fights that they had with various European visitors who came to the Island. When the British people came with their army to look for Christian Fletcher, the Samoans were still very unwelcoming. This led to a bloody fight with the British that led to loss of several lives.
Arrival of Missionaries
It is quite astonishing that when the missionaries finally arrived in the early years of the 19th century, they were welcomed. This was a miracle as the Samoans who had been known to be violent. They welcomed the missionaries and accepted the bible and their message. This is attributed to the fact one of the Samoan traditional gods had long predicted that a new religion will come to the Island. The Samoans went ahead to accept Christianity and to date it is still considered as one of the Pacific counters who value the Bible very much.
By 19th Century, the British, American and the Germans had all set their eyes on Samoa. They started tugging this Island in a three way tug of war, not to protect it but rather for commerce. The tension heightened and small Apia Harbor started to be flocked by British, German and American ships.. In the end however, negotiations led to Samoa being divided in two. Western Samoa was given to the Germans and Eastern Samoa went to the Americans. The British went home empty handed.
The Germans made a very big error when they decided to disregard the local customs and the local Samoan leaders. Tired of chaffing under the autocratic government, the locals decided to resist the German rule. This lead to a war outbreak in 1914. New Zealand came into the war and helped deliver the Samoans from German rule. New Zealand went ahead to rule Samoa and even introduced rugby to the locals. Despite the change in rulers, the people of Samoa continued to agitate full independence. As the resistance increased, applications were tabled to the United Nation which led to Samoa finally gaining its independence in January 1962.