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Samoa

Samoa

 

Geography & Topography

Capital: Apia

Population:194,320

Area:  2,831 km2

Language: Samoan, English

Religion: Christian congregational church of Samoa, Roman Catholic, Methodists, Samoan Assemblies of god…

Currency: Tala

History

Samoa is a country in the South Pacific Ocean, located halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. It consists of two large islands, Upolo and Savai’I, and eight smaller islands. The population is around 220,000 people and while the capital city of Samoa is Apia, which is on Savai’l, most people live on Upolo. In 1962 Samoa became independent from New Zealand and has remained a largely Christian society.

 

 

Performing Arts

Dancing, singing and music play a big part in Samoan life with the voice being the most important form of expressing emotion. The fiafia is a musical or theatrical performance performed on special occasions and involves groups taking it in turns to dance while trying to outdo each other. Traditional Samoan music consists of percussive sounds such as stick beating on a rolled mat, accompanied by singing and dancing. The folk songs tell stories of love, patriotism and other important events. The introduction of Christianity gave way to hymns and pop music, particularly American pop music and instruments such as the kitara and ukulele. Modern Samoan music consists of modern pop and rock, and old Samoan songs remixed in the style of Hawaiian reggae and hip hop.

Music

The most recognisable instruments in traditional Samoa music are:

Pate: Pate is a hollowed out log drum that comes in various sizes and produces a loud and distinct sound when hit with a stick. It is made by using a segment of a tree trunk, stripping it of its bark and cutting a hole in a straight line. The wood that remains inside is chiselled out through the slit, and the size, and extent to which it is emptied, affects the tone and sound.

Fala: The Fala is a rolled up mat that is beaten with sticks.

Sielo: This is a stringed instrument made from a broomstick that is attached to a large box or object that acts as a sound board. A single string joins the top of the stick to the box and is then plucked to sound like a bass guitar.

Fala

culturalinfusion/soundinfusion-Pate

Pate, a hollowed out drum that produces a loud and distinct noise when hit with a stick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dance:

While a considerate part of the pacific islands’ cultures have been affected by the western civilization, although Samoan music has adopted guitars and other old world instruments, its dances remained untouched. As opposed to islands such as Hawaii, dancers will not wear grass skirts or perform the Hula, instead performers will wear lavalava and in some cases women will wear matting made from the Pandunas while men will wear necklaces or anklets made from leaves. The clothing may be decorated with feathers or freshly cut flowers and lei. While dancing, they must retain grace and move their arms and hands in the approved fashion.

Examples of traditional Samoan dances include:

Siva: Siva literally means dance in Samoan and it refers to a particular type of dance in which the performer usually stands and enacts an everyday activity. During the siva the performer usually wears a tuiga, a headdress made of feathers and human hair.

Taualuga: The Taualunga takes a similar form to the siva. It is performed by a female dancer, but instead of performing alone there will be various points at which a group of men will participate. In addition a sei, headdress of flowers, will be worn.

 

 

 

 

 

Some interesting facts:

  • Traditionally, boys aged between 12 – 14 years are tattooed from waist to knee denoting their status. Women also get tattooed but not as extensively.
  • The country is located south of the equator, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand

Samoan community in Australia:

More information on the Samoan community: