Samoan Short Story Competition coordinator Apulu Lance Polu, writer Afemata Tunumafono Apelu Aiavao, NUS Vice Chancellor Fui Leapai Ilaoa Professor Asofou So’o and Reverend Dr. Iutisone Salevao of NUS. STANDING: Angela Kronfeld – Talamua Media, Seiuli Vaifou, NUS and Matiu Matavai Tautunu Aumua of NUS
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 11 FEBRUARY 2019: The international Short Story writing competition in the Samoan language is now open following the launch at the National University of Samoa this morning.
The project is collaboration between the National University and Talamua Media and the competition is open to Samoans wherever they are residing around the world and will use available technology and mediums available to ensure wide participation.
The competitions’ main objective is to promote creativity and provides an opening for Samoans to tell their stories in their own language.
Write more from the heart
The guest speaker at the launch was well known Samoan author, story teller, broadcaster and veteran newspaper editor Afemata Tunumafono Apelu Aiavao.
With Samoan collections such as “Maunu mai Loimata o Apaula” to childhood memories of Leusoalii village where he grew up in “Never to the Sina Again,” to social critique of the Samoan churchs’ supressing influence “Oute le Teena le Faifeau Fo’efa’i” and other collections, the 90 year old spoke about writing from what you know best and from the heart.
“Write more from your heart, your emotions and how you feel about things, feel your surroundings. You must have feelings in your stories otherwise it’s dead,” he said.
He said he was raised by the church ministers who influenced his language and the platform for his writing was the very few available texts at the time such as the “Tusi Oti”
“There were no newspapers, radio, television and the Tusi Oti was the best seller of my generation,” said Afemata.
“It is obvious that when you start writing a story, you start from something you know, perhaps something around you. You write about something interesting that happen in your life or life of people around you, you start from what you know before you move into the unknown,” said Afemata.
NUS Vice Chancellor Fui Leapai Ilaoa Professor Asofou So’o reiterated the importance of the competition especially the initiative behind it to develop resources in the Samoan language.
He made reference to complaints against radio broadcasters and television announcers and even Government officials such as lawyers and even ministers of state misusing and mispronouncing words.
From an educational viewpoint, he said that literacy is a major concern and regular language tests find that young Samoans are having problems not only with English but their own language.
The competition is now open for three months to close on 31 May 2019.
The best stories will be compiled in a book and will also be recorded in a Radio series called Leulupani and will be broadcast on radio stations in Samoa and overseas.
Talamua’s editor who created the popular radio series Palolomua and Leulupani in the 1980’s said the competition is an effort to encourage Samoan creativity in telling their stories in the Samoan language, and since this year celebrates Indigenous Languages, the competition falls in well with the celebration.
Top five prizes: 1. ST$3,000; 2. ST$2,000; 3. $1,000; 4. ST$800; 5. ST$500. There will also be five consolation prizes of ST$250.00 each.