ON SAMOAN CULTURE AND THE PASSING OF MALIETOA

Commentary

By Cherelle Jackson

APIA, Samoa (Newsline Newspaper Samoa, June 4) - I can't help thinking that the savages in us has reawakened since the death of our beloved Head of State Malietoa Tanumafili II.

Thousands of Samoan men are roaming the streets in black (traditional skirt) with their faces painted black and heads tied with red bands signifying that the warriors, the protectors of the King, are present.

They come armed with machetes, axes, guns and knives, shouting and chanting praises and sorrow for the passing of the King.

Traditionally the men guarding the body of Malietoa can strike out whoever disrupts the cultural presentations or get in the way of a procession, and their mere presence scares whoever has such intentions.

In all my years of existence as a Samoan, I have never seen such a passionate display of cultural affection, pride and sorrow at the same time.

It is indeed a sight to behold and an experience to be had, to see the people of Samoa come together to mourn the loss of the nation's father.

But it has and will not be smooth running from here on.

Already the western idea of guarding a leader has taken precedence over the cultural warriors.

The police, instead of the traditional guards, lead the procession from the funeral home today to Malietoa's home, much to the dismay of the Chiefs.

Government workers, students and members of the public lined the streets to await the procession.

Kings, Prime Ministers, ministers and high level officials from different countries have descended upon Samoa to pay their respects to the third longest serving Head of State in the world, the ever humble and genteel Malietoa.

As the funeral slowly nears closing, I cannot help but wonder, what will happen after he is buried?

Seeing the savages in us reawaken in death, will the same passion be shown by supporters of the two remaining Paramount Chiefs, Tupua Tamasese and Tuimalealiifano, when one is chosen to be the next Head of State?

Cabinet will be mulling over the decision within the next few weeks and I suspect the decision will be made before Independence Day on the 1st of June - just two weeks away.

Speaking of Cabinet, I found out while driving through McDonalds a few hours ago that Members of Cabinet ordered 50 hamburgers with fries and drinks to go with it for their meeting up in the Government building.

A McDonalds employee told me that Cabinet orders about the same amount every time they meet up in the square office, which is weekly.

"This is a small order compared to what they usually take up there," she said.

Now here's the funny part: there are only 12 Ministers of Cabinet, now lets say they have a Secretary each joining them for the meal, that's still only 24 people, does that mean they are eating two full combo meals each?

Cherelle Jackson is a Samoan journalist based in Apia, Samoa.

Newsline Newspaper Samoa

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