Fa'a Samoa - The Samoan Way
Samoa is governed by a 3,000 year old way of life called Fa’a Samoa (The Samoan Way). It is all important, where respect of one’s elders is strictly adhered to and being of service to your family is your duty. It’s a guideline for all Samoans on how to lead their lives, celebrating and embracing traditional values, their culture and environment. As a result, life has changed very little among many of Samoa’s people with time honoured customs still an integral way of life.
In the centre of Apia is the Cultural Village where there’s a two hour guided walk around the village and where we were able to observe the Fa’a Samoa culture. After starting with demonstrations in weaving (of palm fronds) we watched the preparation of the food using and Umu (earth oven). After a traditional welcome through an Ava ceremony where skipper drank kava from a coconut cup, we watched a performance of traditional Samoan dance. The Samoan Siva is a graceful danced performed by the women where the dancer tells a story with her hands, and the fast actions of the fa’ataupati or slap dance is performed by the men.
Further demonstrations of mat weaving, wood carving and tapa making and cloth printing completed a highly informative and entertaining day.
Preparation of Food using the Umu or Earth Oven. Here palusami (coconut cream baked in taro leaves) is being prepared:
Traditional Welcome Ceremony and Dancing:
After the dancing, the food was served to us on a mailo or woven plate:
The Chiefs’ wives weaving…:
… and the Chiefs carving wood:
Tapa (Siapo) Cloth – made from the bark of a mulberry tree:
Printing cloth :
No cultural experience in Samoa would be complete without seeing the Fire Dancing, so we went along to the Siva Afi at a nearby restaurant. The chef specially prepared a vegetable stir-fry for us , served in the traditional mailo, after which the fire show began – a real treat.