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Traditional oratory celebrated

By Jeff Hayner PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, Sept. 1, 2010) - Last week, Saturday, Aug. 28, the AMOSA (Aoaoga Mo Sailiga Atili) o Savavau indigenous Samoan Language University held its first awards ceremony at the Equator Hall of the Tradewinds Hotel in Ottoville.

There were certificates in Samoan Language Oratory handed out to thirteen students who have completed the prescribed courses.

According to the Chairman of AMOSA, Aeoainuu Aleki, who is also the Vice President of SEIAS (Society Indigenous Education in American Samoa), the traditional Samoan Orator (tulafale) is an important aspect of Samoan culture, and is one of the reasons why the fa’asamoa (the Samoan way), is still strong in tradition, compared to many other Pacific Island cultures.

He said, the tulafale acts on behalf of the ali’i at social occasions and ceremonies. He is an imposing figure and has an excellent command of the Samoan language. Samoans love oratory, and there is even a form of the language used only for the purpose of oratory, which is little understood by the majority of Samoans.

It makes use of word forms that are not widely understood, and makes constant use of Samoan Proverbs not understood by most, unless you are familiar with the story behind the proverb, Aeoainuu continued.

You can easily identify a tulafale, the AMOSA chairman explained, as he holds a long staff in one hand (to’oto’o), and has the orator’s whisk made of coconut fiber (fue) over his shoulder, and traditionally he was clothed in tapa.

The classes were held by the well known author and member of the elite council of Tumua ma Pule, Maulolo Leaula Tavita, according to Aeoainuu.

The guest speaker Saturday was tofa Teleiai Ausage, head of the Laveai Samoan Language School at Malaeloa, and head of the Samoan Language Department at the American Samoa Community College.

In preparation for the ceremony on Saturday, these students presented their oratorical masterpieces, as if they were on the malae, or at the fale talimalo or fale fono on traditional grounds. A panel of prominent indigenous orators judged their presentations.

The panel was composed of Maulolo Leaula Tavita (Matua, Tui Samau), Tuaolo Manaia Fruean, (Faleagafulu i ai Motu, Launiusaelua) and one of these two prominent members of the Supreme Council of Tootoo, Laie Mata’u or Malemo from Olosega.

This week, the AMOSA group, along with some of their family members, will travel to Samoa. Upon arriving in Samoa, the AMOSA group will be greeted by the well known Faleula o Samoa Society of skilled orators and chiefs in a traditional Aliitaeao ceremony at the Pulenu’u headquarters in Apia.

They will then spend the rest of the weekend visiting traditional sites which are the origins of popular sayings and expressions in the Samoan tradition.

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