Sunday, 14 December 2014

La'u Samoa e matalasi. . .

This blog post is a song request from +Anthony Faitaua 

I have also had requests from +Sonya Van Schaijik and +Tahu Paki to write a blog post in gagana Samoa (Samoan language) - so to satisfy the request, I started the Gagana Samoa page on this blog.  Be sure to check it out.  From time to time I will write in Samoan, because it is the language of my ancestors; it is what defines the essence of who I am. I learned how to read and write it in Aoga Aso Sa - my church Sunday School.

Today's song is a Five Stars classic that has had so many cover versions of it done over the years by Pacific groups such as Jamoa Jam, including covers by solo artists Swiss and Sara Jane Auva'a extending even to choral arrangements of this piece (I've done one myself..... just need to find where I've put the notation....).

La'u Samoa e matalasi    
Ua siosiomia e le sami   
Atu mauga lanu lau 'ava 
Feoa'i fiafia ona tagata 

It is quite timely that I do a song about Samoa today as I am preparing to return to my ancestral home for Christmas this year.  I was only there a few months ago for my sister in law's funeral.  I just missed my brother's wedding yesterday.  Obligations and duties keep me tied to Aotearoa until I fly out next week.  This verse speaks about Samoa's beauty, how she is surrounded by the ocean, is peppered with rising mountains and her people roam happily within her.  

La'u Samoa la'u Samoa ea  
Le Atua e lou fa'avae e moni lea  
Le Ao o lou Malo tali'ilagi 
Samoa ea i Malo aufa'atasi 

The first time I came across this song was learning it as part of the ma'ulu'ulu (action song) for our ASB Polyfest Samoan group performance bracket in 1991 (many moons ago, I know).  The good thing about using such songs with its rich and dense language is the ability to understand what the words mean by attaching actions to depict their meaning.  A vivid memory about performing this song was the all female harmonies that I heard ringing in the air, the layered formation of the dancers - there were four rows and I remember kneeling on my feet in the second row.

Tu lata oe ile Ekuata 
E mafanafana foi le vevela 
So'o se mea aua te popole 
E mamulu mai ile faamolemole 

This verse speaks about Samoa being close to the Equator and the warmth of the heat.  It also speaks about the way of life; there is nothing to worry about as you can always get by asking someone for help.  The song structure follows the typical verse-chorus structure that is indicative of pop songs.  The style of guitar playing is embedded in the 'igi' style or guitar picking of either melodic motifs or countermelodies while the melody is being sung by the vocals.

Malietoa ua Malotau 
O nai upu fa'alaei'au 
Sema ane sota taeao 
Samoa lo ta va'a ia sao 

It is the hope of this final verse in the song that Samoa has a future that is bright and sees her sailing in her canoe through safe passage.  I hope that when you visit your ancestral homeland that you find some strength in her roots, in her earth and in the people that will be there to greet you when you return. . .