Forgive the German Navy

The Samoans Forgive the German Navy

In the 1880’s the German Navy came to Samoa to take over Samoa. They came into the bay (maybe Pago Pago bay in Tutuila) with all their ships and they waited for the next day before they were going to go onto the land and seize the government.

During the night a terrible hurricane struck the island and the ships drug their anchors and ran aground on the beach, or sank.

In the morning, German sailors were washing up on the beach, naked, wounded, half drowned. The Samoans went out and lit fires and pulled the sailors out of the sea and brought them to the fires and fed them, warmed them and clothed them.

When Samoans meet people they will say, “Talofa!” Talofa is their hello, but it means, “Love.” So when a Samoan says “Talofa.” You know that they really mean it.

(This story, I think, is from the 1919 National Geographic.)

Two Sons of a Chief and Their Sister

Savaii and Upolu are two sons of chief and Tutuila is their sister. If you know what is good for you, you better leave their sister alone.

(From an anonymous Samoan).

The Ghost and His Wife and Child

There was a man in Manu’a who had two wives. But they could not bear him children. So he went to Savaii and married a third wife. In time the third wife became pregnant and was close to delivering the infant. The husband was ashamed because he was a stranger on Savaii and did not have the means to provide presents for his child that was to be born. So he returned to Manu’a to visit his relatives and to tell them to prepare gifts to give to the child when it was born.

After he visited his relatives he returned to his canoe to return to his third wife. His two other wives were angry with him because he had not visited them so they met him on the beach and they killed him.

His spirit, however, continued the journey to his wife. When he came to her, it was night and she had delivered her child and was sleeping. She could not tell that he was dead and he did not tell her. He told her to prepare to return with him to his home island. As they were preparing she asked him to hold the infant but he said that he could not because he was cold from the sea.

When she climbed into the canoe she could smell carrion (rotting meat) and she asked her husband what dead thing he had in the canoe that was giving that smell.

He did not want to tell her that he was dead, and so he said that the smell must be coming on the wind from a dead animal laying on the mountain.

A wind came up and blew the canoe from Savaii to Manu’a so that they reached their destination while it was still night. (The fastest that that trip had ever been made). As they approached Manu’a, the wife saw fires on the beach and she asked her spirit husband what the fires were. At this point, he could tell his wife that he was dead. He said, “Those are the fires that they have lit for my funeral.”

(This story came from “In the South Seas” by Robert Louis Stevenson.) Revised: March 1, 1996 Copyright © 1996 Daniel (Taniera) Longstaff