Fiction Map of the World- Samoa

by Travelbag on 23 April 2015, 11:04AM

The Samoan Islands are home to some of the most picturesque and enticing landscapes in the South Pacific. Whilst this may sound like a lofty claim, you are guaranteed to agree with it after just a few days spent exploring the coral reefs, golden beaches, crashing waterfalls, and sparkling lagoons of Samoa. The elemental power of nature is strong here, and whether it is in the rugged beauty of extinct craters or the bloom of island wildflowers, it will lift even the most world weary of souls. 

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The natives of Samoa are a lot like their island home – they take things easy and move at their own pace, but can be full of energy and vitality in an instant. They are notoriously hospitable, and a wide toothy grin and a friendly flap of the hand are never too far away. This is a great place to visit for anybody looking to kick back and just enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer.  

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Essential Holiday Reading

The literature of Samoa is wonderfully diverse. Its emergence, in terms of the written form, took place within the context of the development of indigenous Pacific Islander literature as a whole, during the late sixties. Whilst it is a relatively young culture, it has grown rapidly, and there are scores of superb Samoan novelists and poets to choose from. The Albert Wendt classic, Sons for the Return Home, is a great book to enjoy whilst taking in the scenery of this beautiful location. It is a story of star crossed lovers, fighting against racial prejudice in order to be together. The narrative criss-crosses between Samoa and New Zealand, and showcases Wendt at his most eloquently angry. It is a deeply personal tale, and contains more than a few examples of the author himself trying to realign his own attitudes.

Notable Samoan Books

The aforementioned Albert Wendt is actually one of the most revered writers to come out of Samoa, and he has produced many great works of fiction, including The Songmaker’s Chair. As with Sons for the Return Home, this is a narrative which focuses heavily on cultural and social identity, and particularly on the tensions between migrants and natives, and Samoan, Maori, and Patagi communities. If you enjoy literature that wants its readers to feel changed at its end, to have really learned and felt something, you are likely to derive great joy from the work of Wendt. The magnificent Where We Once Belonged is another acclaimed book in Samoa. It was written by Sia Figiel, and depicts like in a small village, through the eyes of 13-year old Alofa.  

Notable Samoan Authors

It is time now to turn to an author who was not Samoan, but Scottish – though he was adopted by the Samoan people all the same. The great Robert Louis Stevenson moved to Apia in 1889, with his wife, stepmother, and stepson. He had spent many years roving vast swathes of both America and the South Pacific, in search of a climate which would ease his tuberculosis ravaged lungs. Whilst the original plan was to stay in Apia for just a few weeks, the days turned into years, and Stevenson spent five years in Samoa before passing away in 1894. The people in the community loved the writer so much that they carved out a small tomb on Mt. Vaea, and encased his remains there. The author became the first ever to translate a story into Samoan, after writing The Bottle Imp.      

Notable Samoan Films

The Samoan film industry is still very young, and the first feature to come out of the island was released as recently as 2011. It is called The Orator and was shot and set in Samoa, produced in the Samoan language, and features a completely Samoan cast. The film was created with the hope of showcasing Samoan art and culture to a wider international audience, and encouraging more tourists to visit the islands. It follows main character Saili, a taro famer and a medical dwarf, as he struggles to find the strength to defend his land and his family, when threatened by powerful enemies. It is a deeply emotional and moving tale, and even the hardest heart could not fail to be moved by the determination and passion shown Saili and his family.

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Essential Holiday Listening

The sound of Samoa is a very important part of life for locals, and the most vital and appreciated instrument has always been the human voice. As such, Samoan singers express their happiness, pain, grief, fear, anxiety, and joy through emotional songs and compositions. They regularly combine the past, future, and the present in beautiful and expansive acapella and solo numbers. For an uplifting and relaxing experience, as you kick back on the beach, pick up some music from the Yandall Sisters – a popular all female singing group from New Zealand and Samoa. In 1974, their hit song Sweet Inspiration became a massive hit all across the South Pacific, and it could be helping you to unwind on your next holiday to Samoa.  

Notable Samoan Musicians

For something a little different, check out Iakopo, an international recording artist from Western Samoa. He was formerly a member of the band Keys of Creation, before embarking on his career as a solo artist. Whilst Iakopo was actually born in California, he went sent to an all-male school in Samoa, where he was later adopted by a local family. He discovered a passion for music and singing at an early age, and loved performing with the church choir. After a time he began to sing with a local reggae band, and now creates reggae music which is popular across the South Pacific. If there was any genre of music which could demonstrate the Samoan love of life and taking it easy, it is this one, so pick up Hot Summer, and get it on your iPod before you get on the plane this summer. 

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Click here to read more about Samoa.

Click here to go back to the Fiction Map of the World. 


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