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Samoa - Some Legends of Samoa

Some Legends of Samoa

In far west Faleilupo in the island of Savaii, lived a couple whose names were Muli and Muli. Their first-born was a freak - a sea eel. He was given the name Saveasi'uleo. Immediately after his birth, his home was the sea. It was there where he could live naturally. His four younger brothers were born and raised in their home near the sea. Every time one of his brothers goes to the beach to swim, Saveasi'uleo would come up from the deep and swallow him. The four boys met death the same way. After the death of the fourth son the parents decided to move inland to a hill called Alao. It was there where another son was born to Muli and Muli. They named him Ulufanuasesee (a moving panorama). The boy grew strong and daring. He was naturally ambitious with a desire to do and accomplish great things. As he was climbing a tree he saw at a distance a large body of blue water. In great excitement he reported his discovery to his parents who told him it was the ocean that he saw. Immediately the boy pleaded with his parents to let him go there with a coconut shell container to get them some salt water to mix in their food. Before the boy's parents agreed they told him the story of the death of his four brothers who had been eaten by his oldest brother Saveasi'uleo, the eel. Although the story was a very sad one the boy was eager to go to the sea. On the seashore as he was filling his container with salt water, Saveasi'uleo proceeded as usual. This time he swam up with his jaw wide open in readiness to swallow his youngest brother, Ulufanuasesee. Seeing that he was in great danger the boy hurriedly jumped from the water to a flat rock nearby, saying: "Alas! you have consumed four others of your own flesh and blood, your brothers, and now you still want more. Very well, come up and eat your youngest brother. Eat me! Come!"

Saveasi'uleo in shame, replied: "I see where I am wrong. You may return to our parents unmolested. I shall go away and find for us a new kingdom. But remember, we shall in the future again meet and associate through our descendants." After this incident the two brothers parted. Saveasi'uleo again swam to sea. Ulufanuasesee, instead of returning to his parents, followed his brother. At Tafua in eastern Savaii, Ulufanuasesee swam ashore, but his brother continued on. In Tafua the youth married a woman by the name of Sinaletafua. They had no children. The boy left his wife there to swim to Falelatai in Upolu where he again got married to a woman who gave birth to a Siamese twin. Because they could not be separated they remained nameless. Since the twins were grand children of the high chief, an order was issued that when the twins were asleep everything in the village must be absolutely quiet. One day when the men returned home from work they were carrying firewood which they dropped on the ground and caused noise that awakened and alarmed the twin sisters. In their excitement the twins ran to sea where they broke off from each other. Into the deep blue sea they swam together and went ashore at a village by the name of Samamea in Upolu. The women of the village were engaged in making lega (ginger powder) when the twins arrived. The girls asked the village women for some lega for themselves. A small among was given to the twins for their request. The girls thought the amount was too little and they expressed themselves accordingly. To this the leading woman of the village replied: "E itiiti ae o le lega mea" (It may be little but it is a legamea). This expression became very popular with the orators. It is quoted to impress the fact that quality is preferred than quantity.

The twin sisters, when they received the powder they asked for, took to sea again and continued to swim eastward. In mid-ocean between Upolu and Tutuila they came across a broken mast and a package made of breadfruit leaves. In memory of this incident the girls named themselves by what they found. After that they were known by the names of Taema and Tilafaiga. These two names and "Sina" are the most popular female characters in the legends of Samoa. When Taema and Tilafaiga reached the Taputapu Point in Tutuila they went ashore where they powdered themselves with the powder they had brought from Samamea.

Miraculously, the yellow powder the girls had brought from Samamea, instead of being consumed, increased. The twin sisters then believed what they were told about the value of the little amount of powder made in Samamea. The powder that the girls could not use was left at Taputapu Point. The discarded powder continued to increase and the spot where the twin sisters powdered themselves is now a popular landmark. The soil is pure yellow. In honour of the twins the spot is being named and now known as the Lega o Taema (Powder of Taema). The historical spot is located in the extreme west end of Tutuila in American Samoa.

Tilafaiga could not continue to swim east with her sister as she was married to Moamoaniua, a son of High Chief Fatutalie of Fagalii, the village next to the sot named after her sister. Taema swam eastward alone. Coincidentally she was met behind the island of Aunuu by her uncle Saveasi'uleo, the eel who had eaten his four brothers. Taema became the wife of her uncle Saveasi'uleo and they swam off together to far off Pulotu, westward, drifting with the wind and ocean current.

The event of the marriage of Taema to her uncle brought about the fulfillment of Saveasi'uleo's own prediction when he told his youngest brother Ulufanuasesee (father of Tam), at the beach below Alao, that they "would again meet and associate through their descendants." Their only child was a premature birth whom they named "Nafanua" (Hid in the Ground) which was buried in the royal burial ground, among the chiefs in Pulotu. The memorable saying of Saveasi'uleo is popularly quoted by the talking chiefs of Samoa, when they refer to relatives or loved ones who separated and lost trace of each other for years but by chance they were brought together and lived happily. The Siamese twins are often mentioned in Samoan legends.

Legend of Princess Nafanua
In Falealupo, the westernmost village of Samoa lived Chief Ta'i'i. He was widely known among the Lea'ea-Sisifo warriors. After a long bloody battle between them and the Lea'ea-Sasa'e warriors they declared themselves defeated and then surrendered. Immediately they were enslaved and put to hard labour. During their affliction and unbearable predicament Chief Ta'i'i sighed in agony. It is said the Ta'i'i's sigh was heard in all the islands of the west and it aroused the dead and the living in far off Pulotu.
Princess Nafanua (Hid in the Ground), in her grave heard the chief's sigh of agony from across the sea. She at once offered her services to the chiefs of Pulotu and she assured them that she was able to get relief and freedom for the enslaved Lea'ea-Sisifo warriors and Chief Ta'i'i. The king of Pulotu aipproved Prindess Nafanua's offer and she was commissioned to leave for Falealupo at once. The Princess' offer was soon known in all the islands and it originated the saying that is still popular among the chiefs now. "Ua logo is Pulotu le mapu a Ta'i'i" (The sigh of agony of Chief Ta'i'i is head by Pulotu).
Before Princess Nafanua left for battle across the sea the King brought to her three war clubs. The Princess was asked to select one for a weapon. All these clubs were known by certain names by which they were used in the past in the battlefields. The weapons presented by the King were: Faaulito (No mercy), Ulima-Sao ( Guide with safety) and Ta-fesilafa'i (Strike with courtesy). The fighting Princess Nafanua purposely selected the war club Ta-fesilafa'i and left for the front.
In Falealoupo, Nafanua was met by a couple of the Western Warriors whose names were Matuna and Matuna. They offered their services and they were the only ones accepted by Mafanua to help her fight. At once the couple was given orders to take one side of the main highway and she would take the other side alone. Just before the signal was given the couple was strictly warned to "strike with courtesy," and if any of the enemies admitted their defeat they would be saved. No one of their army should pass to the other side of the road pursuing an enemy. "She herself would do the same. Orders being given, the war started. It was a great success until Matuna had to be disciplined. In anxiety Matuna ignored the orders and crossed the road in pursuit of a man. For failure to obey her order Princess Nafanua used her club on her own army. This originate one of the most popular proverbs that has done more for teaching obedience and discipline in Samoa: "Ua ola i fale le laau a Nafanua" (The club of Nafanua is used on her own). This is mostly quoted by the orators when a punishment is afflicted by a high chief on his own village for being discourteous. It is also often quoted in the guest house to discourage a suitor who is in love with the village maid if they are related to each other.
The invasion was a great success and the Lea'ea-Sisifo Warriors were out of bondage and set free. Nafanua, as a result of the most popularized war became a very powerful and very much worshipped princess. She was often referred to in legends as "goddess." She established her own kingdom. Hence Saveasi'uleo's promise that he would return to sea to find for them a "new kingdom," as expressed to his youngest brother Ulufanuasesee, on the beach below Alao as they were parting, came true. (See Legend of Saveasi'uleo) It was Princess Nafanua who granted several high chiefs special rights and privileges, as well as titles that are still honoured at present.
Nafanua, of royal ancestry, who was buried among the chiefs and chiefesses of Pulotu (according to legend), arose from the dead and offered her life for her people. By fighting "with courtesy" for the great and honourable cause of freedom she loved, she was greatly loved by many. In respecting the right of others, and for her sincere wish to give freedom to the distressed, she won a glorious victory which is a living chapter in the history of Samoa.
Legend Of The Turtle And Shark
Fonuea was an old blind woman of Salega, Savaii (Western Samoa). Her only child was a girl she named Salofa. A great famine spread all over the villages around them. Starvation was upon Salega. One day the family of Fonuea and Salofa engaged themselves in baking soi (dioscorea bulbifera) which was gathered from the forest the day before. Fonuea, with the help of her daughter, followed up the progress of the cooking, from a distance where they lived. When the smoke disappeared Fonuea figured that the stones were then heated and that the food was then covered for steaming. Fonuea waited for about two hours when she asked Salofa if she could see anybody coming to them with some food. The answer was No. For hours Fonuea continued the same question and Salofa repeated the same answer. Fonuea was soon convinced that their family had left them to die starving. After all patience was exhausted Fonuea ordered her daughter to lead her to the cliff over the ocean. Fonuea at the edge of the cliff held her daughter's hand tightly and ordered her to accompany her as they jumped into the ocean. The hungry and distressed mother and child immediately turned into a turtle and shark. From there they swam eastward so to be away from their unkind relatives and village. They swam hundreds of miles away until they reached Vaitogi, a village in the island of Tutuila, now part of American Samoa. At the sandy beach of Vaitogi they transformed themselves again and became human, in order to meet High Chief Letuli and his people. Letuli courteously received his guests and treated them with the best of food and clothing in his guest house. Fonuea and Salofa soon regained their normal strength which they had lost during the famine in Salega and swimming in the ocean for hundreds of miles. In order to show their great appreciation of Letuli's hospitality and cordial receptions in Saitogi, Fonuea approached High Chief Letuli and expressed her sincere gratitude in which she vowed to the Chief that she and her daughter would return to the ocean and live just below the Vaitogi cliff. "It is there," she continued, "that we would come to the water surface and dance to entertain you." Fonuea then recited to Letuli a chant, which when sung would immediately make them appear. Letuli expressed his great appreciation of the honour bestowed upon him. He immediately proclaimed to the people of Vaitogi that it was a serious offense to destroy, disturb or to disrespect his guests, the turtle and shark over the cliff. Fonuea and her daughter returned to live in the sea in the forms of a turtle and shark. They have lived there for several centuries and never failed once to appear, as they promised, when Letuli's chant was sung over the cliff.
Fonuea, Fonuea, Laulau mai se Manamea,
O sa ai e i luga nei? O sa Letuli e i luga nei.
A ua ina, a la ina, O le a solo mata'iga,
Laulau tu la le i'a, Ususu!
Fonuea, Oh Fonuea, Present to me the lovely pair.
Who are they that are up there?
They are the Letuli's everywhere.
At rain or at sunshine, The crowd will march in line,
To view the fishes as they shine. War Shout!
Traditionally, when the turtle and shark appear on the surface, the crowd would hail "Lalelei!" ("Beautiful!"), three times. This should be done strictly without pointing a finger toward the turtle and shark. Pointing fingers would remind them of their troubles of the past in far-off Salega. To them it was an insult to be reminded of the inhuman treatment they received from their own relatives and village across the ocean. A pointed finger would make the turtle and shark disappear at once. The village guides always inform the visitors to the cliff beforehand about the restriction on pointing of fingers at the turtle and shark.
It may sound too good to be true but the scene at the Vaitogi cliff is one of the great wonders of the world. Scientists have yet to find why the turtle and shark never appear to the surface unless Letuli's chant is sung. It is as much a mystery to the foreigners as it is to the Samoans who have tried for several generations to attract the turtle and shark to the surface by other means but always failed. Best of brass bands played and large choirs sang the best of anthems, hymns and island songs over the cliff but they were all disappointed. Seeing the turtle and shark tops the tourists attraction in American Samoa today. It signifies Founea's sincere love and appreciation.
Legend Of Prince Tamalelagi
The meaning of Tagaloa to Princess Vaeotamasoaalii resulted in the birth of a male child, that Tutuila and Ape brought incognito from Safata to Aana. The purpose of restricting publicity on the moving from Safata to Aana of the Prince child was to ensure his safe arrival, so as to accomplish the plan of anointing him a king when he was of age. The boy grew unusually strong and daring. He always showed great ambition and a desire to learn. He was very active and wanted to accomplish things. One day he asked his parents if a chair could be made for him. His parents gladly complied. The builders were given the order and a large, high chair was built and delivered. The boy was very ell pleased and immediately made use of it. The high chair was suggestive of a throne. Tutuila and Ape, knowing the true characteristics of their child, named him "Tamaleiagi" (Son of Heaven). To commemorate the throne-like chair, the village where they were living was named "Nofoaalii" (Throne). Tamalelagi's bedding of specially-woven mats was very thick and high. In commemoration of this the village next to Nofoaalii was named "Leulumoega": (Mat bedding). These two villages are among the most popular villages of Samoa. Leulumoega became the seat of the government of the Aana District and also the home of famed orators.
Left: His Royal Highness M. Tamasese in 1929 before he was shot by a member of the New Zealand Police Force in December of the same year. Before he died a martyr, he said, "My blood has been spilled for Samoa. If I die, keep peace."
When Tamalelagi became of age he was anointed as King Tuiaana. It is believed that the ten principalities credited to the Tuiaana line originated from the ten sons of Tamalelagi. Tamasese was a descendant of King Tuiaana. He was also often addressed as "Tupua." Any of the three titles (Tuiaana, Tamasese or Tupua) is right in addressing the king of Aana.

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