By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – 29 OCTOBER 2020: Chiefs from several villages have lodged their objection to the traditional honorific salutations – Fa’alupega in the latest publication by the Ministry of Social Development.
The traditional salutations – Fa’alupega – sets the traditional authority and hierarchy of each village and district and the status of traditional chiefly titles and orators.
The publication, Tusi Fa’alupega o Samoa Aoao, was published by the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development (MWCSD) in 2012 and the Ministry had been inviting any changes to be made by the villages.
The discussions were led this week by the Minister, Tuitama Leao Dr. Talalelei Tuitama and the Committee in charge of compiling the content, Fale’ula Committee.
While such salutations had been part of Samoa’s oral traditions, things changed when the written word was introduced and the missionaries started the first edition in the late 1800’s that had been considered the standard for a long time.
The main complaint with the current edition, is that changes have been deliberately made to benefit certain people because of their influence and positions in government.
Tuitama could not comment due to the ongoing discussions, but several villages are already head to head on this issue with some going through mediation in Court.
This week, the village of Faleula was engaged in a heated exchange in trying to sort out the removal of the Malietoa connection or title from their village fa’alupgea.
Police said, they had to intervene when the discussions started to go out of hand.
Other villages that have launched their objections are Luatuanu’u and Sapunaoa.
The publication, also provides useful information that can be an important resource for younger Samoan generations as it records (if the content is correct). Information such as the village/district meeting grounds, salutations for chiefs ava – Igoa ipu, Sa’o Tama’ita’i, Sa’o ‘Aumaga and other important information used in cultural and historical situations.
According to the Ministry, it is only working to update the Tusi Fa’alupega o Samoa Aoao 2012 and they want to find out from villages three things:
- If there are any changes such as a removal or addition of something they want done to their fa’alupega;
- If there are any errors of their fa’alupega in the current book that they wish to correct or;
- Leave the fa’alupega as they are.
The Ministry said they have passed the deadline given for the villages to make these changes and their role is to ensure that all villages fa’alupega are well documented and factual as recorded in the Tusi Fa’alupega o Samoa Aoao.
The Ministry also revealed that in some villages, there are those who wanted their titles included in the fa’alupega despite their ranking in the village and this had caused frictions in such villages.
While other churches and individuals have published their own versions of the Fa’alupega, this edition by the Ministry of Social Development was published in 2012 to commemorate Samoa’s 50th independence anniversary.