Thursday, July 23, 2015


Previously known as Western Samoa, it comprises nine islands, all of them volcanic, though the two largest, Savai’i and Upolo, make up 99% of the territory. Governed by New Zealand until it forced its way into independence in 1961, its people are the second largest group of Polynesians, after the Maori. 

Fishing and farming are the mainstay, with some light manufacturing and a growing commerce in offshore banking, but this is not a place to grow up in, nor a place to be an adult in, and definitely not a place to grow old in, so most are leaving, generally for the United States, or acclimatising and accommodating themselves to the realities of life in the era of technology and massive world over-population: the reality that there are few jobs left outside the service industries today, and that those jobs will only remain for as long as employing humans is cheaper than replacing them with technology; which means slavery by whatever euphemism.

The official website of the Samoan government recognises this, and therefore places tourism as its only hope for the future - the ultimate service industry. But beyond the natural beaches - when they are not being devastated by cyclones - the tourism is mostly theme-park, as the advertisement above amply demonstrates: actors in costume performing traditional tribal dances that lost their meaning centuries ago - the Faataupati (clapping dance), the Siva Afi (fire knife dance), the Taualuga (final dance), all of which were once a part of liturgy, a means of propitiating the gods or stirring the priapus for the fertility rites, but you can ask any Samoan to explain this and they will give you blank looks. Tell them this is Fa’a Samoa, "the Samoan Way", and the looks get even blanker. Try "Fiafia" and they will recognise this from the advertising posters. Ah yes, Fiafia Night. Three thousand years ago it was the equivalent of Christmas, Rosh ha-Shana, Diwali, Id ul-Fitar; today it's just an excuse for a party in a restaurant. Not a terribly good party either, if you scour the tourist-reviews online. Very sad. 

Marks for: 1961 (the date on which Samoa became the first Polynesian nation to achieve independence)

Marks against: 11 billion (the number of people expected to inhabit planet Earth by the year 2099, and of whom an estimated 85% will either be unemployed or in "service industry" jobs; either way, living below the poverty line)

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

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