Back from Samoa and already longing to return to its warm tropical weather and crystal blue waters – but really, who wouldn’t?
My five days on the island were enough time for my sister, brother-in-law and I to explore the islands untouched beauty with the means of our four-door Rav 4. As well as conquering the infamous To Sua Ocean Trench (as seen above), snorkeling at marine reserves and indulging in Oka (a Samoan raw fish dish I ate every day), I had the chance to experience Samoa’s Teuila Festival for the first time.
The Teuila is an annual festival held in Apia, one of the South Pacific’s largest festivals that display Samoa’s finest traditional song and dance – a fairly common means of communicating our stories through performance which is always captivating. And if there are two things the Samoan people take pride in when showcasing their culture, its song and dance.
Now, visiting your motherland, the land of your ancestors, people and bloodline is special and sometimes not always easy to describe. It’s like being re-united with an old friend you haven’t seen in years and feeling like you never really parted – the connection is always there. I felt like the Teuila was a reminder that no matter where we Pasifika people go in the world, whether we’re living in Australia or France, there is a place we hold dear to our hearts that’ll always be home…and for a moment whilst I was sitting in the audience, a strong sense of belonging came over me and it was hard not to take pride in a culture that many people from overseas were in awe of.
There was a segment on stage that I particularly enjoyed where the Samoan dancers pulled volunteers from the audience to dance on stage (that was my que to hide ha ha) – now at the time of course the 2015 Youth Commonwealth Games were on as well so the abundance of diverse people from around the world in the audience was great - a couple of young athletes from St Lucia and a gentleman from Sweden danced their hearts out to Samoan song and it was brilliant!
Other performances that graced the stage that evening included the Siva Afi, meaning “fire dance” and one of my favourites, the Samoan sasa or slap dance where hand movements are used to portray aspects of everyday life. The audience’s admiration for the sasa’s fast paced drumming and chants was clear and a great way to have ended our evening.
For those of you that are perhaps thinking of visiting, don’t delay. The island is a rarity in the sense of its untouched beauty... I already miss the norm of strolling down Apia markets in my i’e lava lava (sarrong) and sei (flower) in my hair.
When Teuila talks, she speaks of uniting a culture through song and dance – a culture of which many around the world share so much love for. See you soon Samoa,