Today I wish I didn’t speak Samoan

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A man came over to me while my car was at the traffic lights opposite McDonalds Restaurant, across from Lotemau Centre, in the heart of Apia and said: “Sis, fia ai a i lau mea. O le a le kaimi e ke magava ai.” I do not know this man, I have never seen him before in my life, but at 3pm in the afternoon sun in the middle of the street he had the audacity to approach me in my vehicle and offer to eat my privates.

Today, I wish I did not speak Samoan, so I would not have understood what he was proposing, so that I could be comforted in my ignorance that I was not just verbally violated in the privacy of my vehicle, so I can just presume he is just another street random, so that I can give him the benefit of the doubt, so that I am not assaulted on my way to buy my daughter her school uniform.

I recently took part in Samoan language week celebrated in New Zealand, because I am a fiercely proud Samoan woman. I love my culture and my language, but today, I wanted nothing to do with it, because when a man comes over to you harasses you in such a way, it strips you bare of such of your mamalu and makes you question all the other values you expect from Samoan men.

I remember seeing a Youtube video some months back that featured a woman walking through New York City (Photo attached) and men calling out compliments to her, they called it “sexual harassment” but all I saw and could hear were considerate and wonderful comments from men she passed by.

Now if you taped a camera on any Samoan woman and left it there for a month, then you would truly know what “sexual harassment is.” It comes in the form of a brush of the arm on the breast, a truly lewd comment and an offer of a unwelcome sexual favour on a weekly basis, not to mention extremely rude and inappropriate remarks about her body.

Today, I wish I did not speak Samoan. Today I wish I had a tazer on me. Today I wish my daughter did not outgrow her small uniform so she would never get closer to experiencing what I experienced today and many times before, but today, it hurt more, because I thought we had gone beyond this.

Why, I might add is your sister the apple of your eye, yet the woman on the street is fair game? Why is it you are the protector of your sister but you can beat your wife senseless? Why, is your sister the feagaiga and all other women are sexual objects that you can treat like dirt?

I reiterate my point to you before I rolled up my window and almost crushed your filthy fingers you scum: “Alu e kui lou kefe.” Over and out 🙂 (Tulou le gagana)

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This Kiwi young man is proof that chivalry is alive

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11390078_10153374196255987_95188515245772147_nThis blog was set up a few years ago to applaud the successes of young people and women and men of any age. It was set up to bring to light, the stories of big and little heroes, and to give praise where it is due, to the work of organizations, of Government departments and of worthy individuals and groups who advocate for the rights of women, for the advancement of human rights, and sometimes just to applaud cool people.

So this is an ‘applaud a cool person’ post.

His name is Cedric, I have never met him, but this young man Googles well. I tapped into my investigative reporter skills to dig out some information on Cedric a few weeks ago when his name was brought to my attention.

Before I launch into praise of this wonderful son of some amazing parents (whom also I don’t know and never met), let me give you the back story.

My niece was looking for a date to her school prom in New Zealand recently. She is 17 and one of the most amazing young women I know, because she has strength of character, confidence, empathy and is super intelligent.

As a young teen she has had some very lovely friends who are boys, but she has also had some who are not so nice. My niece has also been exposed to some not-so admirable male role models in her life, outside of her circle of friends. So a few weeks before her school ball, she was looking for a nice young man to accompany to her school ball.

She posted a message on her Facebook asking for a respectful young man to escort her to the ball, she wasn’t asking for a relationship, just someone who would treat her respectfully during the ball.

Over 200 people liked her status and over 20 young men were nominated by aunties, sisters, fathers and relatives for her to take to the ball. But only one such young man contacted her directly and asked her out to the Ball.

As part of the agreement for her to post a search on Facebook, her mother and her Aunties would have to vet the date who is proposed, for safety reasons. When Cedric offered to accompany my beautiful niece, she asked us for permission, and we did what any Samoan Aunties would do, researched, asked and drilled.

“What’s his name? Where is he from? Does he go to school? How has he done in school? Have you heard anything about him that we might need to know etc.” While some of these questions were being asked, I took the liberty of researching the young man to the depths of the internet, and found only the most awe inspiring references to his academic, leadership and athletic achievements.

I sent my approval, pending the usual parental consent by both sides.

Come the night of the ball, by all accounts the young man proved himself quite the gentleman, turning up in a suit, even bringing a corsage for my niece and being a wonderful date the whole night.

At the end of the night he thanked my sister for the opportunity to take her daughter to the ball and offered to cover the petrol for the car, which of course was declined, but nonetheless that he thought of that was pretty cool.

I want to say thank you Cedric for being a wonderful young man who treated my niece with respect. I want to thank you for exhibiting what any mother would want to see in a prom date for their daughter. As an Aunty I am so thankful you were lovely to my niece, because trust you me, if you weren’t I would have hunted you down, only in a way a Samoan Aunty would do 🙂 But joking aside, you charmed my sister, you were good to my niece and you personified a most admirable and not to mention handsome date for my beautiful Niece. I thank you for being proof that indeed chivalry is very much alive.

More importantly thank you to the parents of this young man, for bringing him up in such was way that he knows how to treat a young woman on one of the most exciting nights of her life.

To every mother or father reading this blog who was a son between the ages of 2-6 and who will be within a ten mile radius of my daughter in 15 years time, take heed, raise your sons like this one, so that Storm can go to a prom with a respectable young man like Cedric when the time comes. Actually scratch that, she’s not going to prom, she’s not leaving my house at puberty and she most certainly will not be talking to members of the opposite sex until she is about 25.

With thanks,

Over-protective Mother of the Year 😉

Back to my niece and Cedric. Here’s a pictorial update from the night. Don’t they look super cute!! They captured when he presented her with a corsage.

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