Posted by: scribe9 | June 5, 2010

Samoa night

Tonight we went a Samoan gathering, celebrating the anniversary of Samoan independence. No, not American Samoa; the other one, which was German Samoa until World War I, after which it became Western Samoa and part of New Zealand’s empire until independence more than 40 years ago.

New Zealand is home to lots of Pacific Islanders, known collectively as Pasifika. There are so many that Auckland is the de facto capital of at least a handful of island nations. Unfortunately Pasifika people, like Maoris, tend to be at the bottom of the socio-economic totem pole. Here the race poles are not black and white but brown and white.

This gathering–a Fia Fia night–was a typical island night, beginning with a prayer (in Samoan, except for “Amen”), followed by dancing (by children, then women, then “boys” whose ages ranged from about 11 to 40). One of the dances by the “boys” was to music by a group that sounded like The Backstreet Boys, and definitely had hip-hop influences. 

Then there was supper, which included corned beef, truly wretched beef chow mein, taro, and some good pork and chicken dishes. I didn’t indulge in the raw mussels and oysters. The rest of the evening there was recorded music, including covers of “Crimson and Clover” and “Only You.” Yup, American cultural hegemony owes a lot to golden oldies.

The Samoan flag, like that of New Zealand, has the stars of the Southern Cross. When we first came, we couldn’t find the cross, because it’s much higher in autumn and winter skies. The only “northern” constellation we recognize is Orion, which obviously isn’t just a feature of northern skies.

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