Talofa! So this week is Samoan Language Week… although it’s just another week of reminding myself I don’t know how to speak my native tongue fluently. For a long time I identified myself as a New Zealander or a Samoan New Zealander when people asked me “What are you?” or “Where are you from?” I mean, it’s true, I was born and bred in New Zealand, why wouldn’t I say that? My friends and some family however, reminded me that I am a Samoan. Both my parents were born and bred in Samoa. My siblings and I are first-generation Kiwis. Because I felt so culturally displaced, I wrote this poem some time ago. Since then, I’ve been trying to speak my language at home and anywhere and everywhere. Slowly getting there… it’s a process! 😀
I’ve lost my culture.
The blood of my ancestors run deep within me.
But their language so foreign, like gibberish to my ears.
I claim to be their descendent, yet tongues are tied.
I reach helplessly for words that are not in my reach, yet so close to home.
Words that will teach the generations to come of who they are.
Yet only the white mans language slides smoothly off the tip of my tongue.
O fea sa e i ai? O fea ua e alu i ai?
Where were you? Where have you been?
What will I teach my children? Of their language? Of their culture?
When the Samoan language I hardly know has been stolen from my very lips.
I try so hard to remember, yet my life is living to forget.
My eyes cry unseeing tears of sadness.
Sadness that sweeps over the eyes of my matua and aiga, as I struggle with simple words.
Words that will one day be lost in a cacophony of broken Samoan.