12/30/15

Sentimentality (and some~other~mentality) ...

Lalomanu - then (the old) ....
This is a picture of my village from yesteryears.  It is definitely “worth a thousand words” and more - all of which could easily pertain to my memories and nostalgia.  This scene is how it was as I was growing up.  The fale (house) was gone by the time I left to come to Amelika, but the falesa (church; lit. sacred house) was still the same as in the picture. This is where I attended church on  Sundays as a little boy.  It brings back memories of my father, grandfather and later on an older brother who all played the piano for church services; and many a White Sunday no less.  The church has since been renovated to what it is today (re: new pic below)

The fale was the main meeting house for the fono (village council of chiefs).  Many important village decisions and rules were made here.  It also served as a guest house where visitors to the village are welcomed and hosted.  Community events and gatherings were often held here including the collection and/or distribution of items (foodstuffs, goods, produce, etc.,) from/among families.  The front yard (and sometimes inside the house itself) served as the main bus stop for the villagers.  The main road runs right in front of the house.

During rugby season, our village players would have their moetasi (lit. sleeping together in one house) in the house to facilitate early morning training and other fitness guidelines.
... and today (the new)...
years later same shot from about the same angle, upgraded church but without the fale 
The fale foundation is still evident but overrun by grass.
The old picture, for me, is a keepsake.  It is not only beautiful for its sentimental value, but also profound in its depiction of the stark contrast between the old (the fale) and the new (the church).
The contrast in their time and cultural contexts also reflects the universal theme of constant change. And the fact that only the church, of the two, has remained/endured and “evolved”, is indicative of the conquest of imperialism, in one sense, and of Western religion in another.

My Samoa College years seemed to have been the height of the anti-imperialism/colonialism perception (at least of the local academia) fueled by works such as Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” and even the writings of Samoa’s own Albert Wendt on the effects of outside influence on the faa-Samoa. Some of Wendt’s students (few of whom were contemporaries of mine) wrote/published protest writings (poems, short stories, etc.) on the same theme.

Again the old picture epitomizes the pervasive dichotomy of the time  - namely the old versus the new.


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