Batgirl, Birds and Samoans

So what’s the latest buzz in cyberspace? Alicia. Alicia who? Alicia Silverstone aka Ms. Batgirl.

Alicia has done the unthinkable and the heretical. She’s a recusant and a rebel. She has done something that is “very uncommon in the US and other Western nations....”  What is it? She feeds her pre-chewed food to her baby, a method called premastication.

The news has revived the debate on the advantages and disadvantages of the method. It has also prompted one writer to ask: “Is Alicia Silverstone getting her parenting tips from birds?”
Now, whether the question is prompted by sarcasm or disdain, this writer should have consulted some members of the more primitive societies, as in Africa and other parts of the globe like ....yes, Suhmawah! (se o Samoa)  Premastication is “mama” in Samoan. If you’re a Samoan and can immediately acknowledge this feeding method, then chances are that you were fed pre-chewed food as an infant. Aea? Often, it’s masticated cooked bananas, taro, breadfruit, etc. and usually water-dipped. Magakua? ...a?..aea? Se lega fo’i la le fia Sachick kakou. ..LOL!

Anyhow, these modern writers should have considered prehistoric times, long before Gerber products and pre-mashed infant foods, to understand that other than milk and water, baby food needed to be pre-softened/mashed before it can be eaten and digested.

I am however amazed by the human and bird association - and similarity - in the feeding habits for their young ones, specifically referencing the Samoans. Here’s a citation on the association from a renowned authority on Samoan history and scholarship:
The way the gogo (tern) masticated and regurgitated food for their young also reminded our ancestors of how they would make little dumplings out of the food they chewed (i.e. mama) to feed their own children. These images of feeding mama to young children offered another visual metaphor that underlined the Samoan saying: “ai a le tagata i le mama o lona matua?” [literally meaning, the young feeds on the masticated dumplings of his parents?]
~“Sufiga o le Tua’oi” by Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, Head of State of Samoa.

The mama metaphor and bird comparison also suggest another favorite Samoan saying “O tama a manu e fafaga i fuga o la’au, ae o tama a tagata e fafaga i upu.” (Chicks are fed with tree blossoms but children are fed with discourse.)

And as for Alicia getting her parenting tips from birds, I would say, why not? She’s one of the bird species.  She’s Batgirl.  LOL!  A le o lega, ai se Samoa le keige lea.

[Cue Penina O le Tiafau]:

“...leai ni mea’ai tu’u ‘apa e susu i le tina si ana tama, tolu masina, fafaga loa i le mama ....”
([In Samoa] there were no canned foods, so a mother breast-fed her baby and when three months old, the child is fed masticated food.)

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