2021 SAMOAN INDEPENDENCE DAY (HONG KONG)

The 2021 Samoan Independence Day, Hong Kong Chapter, showed a part of their culture highlighting the true essence of the Fa’asamoan traditions. Read on and learn a thing or two on how they are as a people.

The Samoa Polynesian Dance HK together with the high chief Masoe Hogan Toomalatai (last person on the right) and his daughter, the Taupo, Phoenix Seileafi Brave Dalino Toomalatai. Photo Credits to: Lenora Ah Sue-Prosser

2021 SAMOAN INDEPENDENCE DAY HOLDS GREAT MEANING FOR ALL SAMOANS

The year 2021 marks new independence from the 22-year old ruling of the previous prime minister of Samoa as it welcomes its first female prime minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa. After almost a never-ending exchange of political appeals, finally, the people of Samoa were given justice for their votes and all the more, Samoans here in Hong Kong have a reason to celebrate embracing something new and promising.

The Samoans here consistently get hold of each other. Not only through celebrations like this but also through common friends, common interests and of course, rugby. Small communities formed here and there, all around Hong Kong, but this particular event made everybody come together as the organizers thought of the greatest idea of showcasing the Fa’asamoan way of living. The Fa’asamoan way, meaning, how exactly they infuse respect, grit, and camaraderie in their lifestyle from way back home.

The idea was nothing but perfect as travelling for over a year now is discouraged to a great extent. Nevertheless, bringing Samoa to Hong Kong through satellites of activities and mini-shows within the Bula Adventure Base, was the way to go. Here are some of the activities the event organizers prepared for families visiting.

1. THE FA’ASAMOAN WAY OF COOKING

Tala, preparing the palusami, a local delight that bakes taro leaves and coconut milk that can be added of chicken or pork.

The traditional way of cooking in Samoa involves an above-ground oven made up supposedly of hot volcanic stones. These stones are preheated before the food is set atop of it to cook. Once set and piled, the men, who always do the cooking, will wrap it with banana leaves which sets a place for the half-opened coconuts and the palusami. More banana leaves layering is to cover each pile until all of the food are in this man-made oven.

It takes 45 minutes to an hour according to Pastor Will Pritchard, a senior pastor at the International Baptist Church located in Aberdeen, Hong Kong. He was part of the organizing team and was demonstrating cutting taros during the umu to show his sons how they do it in Samoa, while High Chief Masoe explained further how rocks play a role in this traditional cooking.

As mentioned, the men are the ones that dominate the kitchen in Samoa, most especially the outdoor ones as it involves heavy lifting and a lot of work from the rocks getting collected fresh from the waterways to ensure its property to conduct heat has never yet been compromised.

You may take it that 45 minutes of experiencing the tempting smell from the food slowly getting cooked could be a challenge. Thank goodness there were activities in the base where you could get entertained and get distracted for a bit.


2. HUSKING THE COCONUTS AT THE 2021 SAMOAN INDEPENDENCE DAY

These kids gained muscles in scraping this coconut alright.

Now, this may be such a simple task by looking at it. But when you are working on it already, it’s a totally different story. These kids had a great time trying it for themselves. One has to observe the necessary precautions such as being careful in using the coconut scraper. Humorously, the Samoans call this their food processor.

The kids held something else than gadgets for once. What a way to experience real hands-on lesson on how to simply scrape off the meat from the coconut. Why do we have to scrape the meat off? Milking it in such form makes it easier. Afterwards, in Samoa, these squeezed out coconut meat can become food for their pet pigs.

 

3. MAKING FIRE FROM BAMBOO STICKS AND DRIED COCONUT HUSKS

Now, this is a survival skill many do not know how to do because of instant measures available within reach. Yet again, it is something necessary to learn. Being an educator, I am aware of how the educational system shifts to hailing hands-on learning through STEAM. And I believe this should be included in some of the busy boxes the industry puts together. Of course with parental supervision or that of their guardian, a project like this introduces concepts highlighting properties of certain elements that is quite simple and common.

If you perceive it with your 21st-century brain, making fire using bamboo sticks might be too hard. Back then, it was the only way to do it, so they were accustomed to making it happen. Making fire is the first in the process of cooking their food. So it was the simplest of all tasks. Yet, here we are at a time that most of us don’t even know how to do it anymore.

 

4. WEAVING BASKETS WITH COCONUT PALM FRONDS IN THE 2021 SAMOAN INDEPENDENCE DAY WAS ALSO INITIATED

To stay environment-friendly and to minimize rubbish, the organizing team introduced weaving of palm fronds to hold taros and for costumes to wear besides the ula or leis. See how the kids enjoyed weaving with Tala, Lio and Faizal.

Lio weaves the basket to hold the taro while the rocks are heated up in preparation for the umu.

All of these works explain why men are the ones who do the cooking. First, they gather the rocks from numerous waterways so that they’re fresh or have never been used for anything. All for a reason that focuses on efficient heat reduction. Then they weave the baskets and make fire. You can see that it takes a lot of work to feed a village in Samoa. But this Fa’asamoan way is their language of love. Service for the family or for their village, ensuring the proper way of cooking it using the traditional way of wrapping coconut milk with leaves, milking the coconut milk and all poured upon with love.

What the guests saw in that celebration was how the Samoan people have fun and form bonds as they make the umu. As passionate as they are with their culture, it serves their people with the mana which Samoan people believe to be the ultimate source of power. You may take it as a special form of energy shared organically where resources are hailed of their purpose. For example, respecting what a coconut tree can make, do and feed. The tree alone can provide food, shelter and clothing which the Fa’asamoan way is all about, respect.

That is something you can’t learn every day by just staying at home. And this was the greatest takeaway from that day. All other features are in this video. So, sit back, relax and enjoy this 30-minute video.

I end this feature with huge credit to the organizing team of this event. Without these people, it wouldn’t have been possible.



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I have a deep regard for your time. It's when I write and cook that time becomes non-existent. I love learning and while you think I am the kind of lady who has a lot of things to say, just take it that I was sharing what I had learned with full impact over a cup of Joe.

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