Fa’afetai e Atua o le Aso Faraile

There’s an entry under ‘Theft’ in Ian Heydon’s Samoa A-Z.

It is wise not to leave valuables or even items of clothing unattended on a beach or in a fale. Samoans can have a different view to ownership of property and things can ‘go missing’. Use your resort safe or ask your host for the best place to keep things safe. I have no personal experience of this and feel totally safe in Samoa but commonsense should tell you that an expensive beach towel could be inviting to someone who doesn’t own one.

Samoans? They’re born to steal.

Apparently, it’s the same in Tonga.

Theft happens – not normally through malice but simply because the concept of individual ownership of material goods is not totally accepted. So, don’t leave valuables unattended, including clothing and shoes. If your towel ‘goes missing’ overnight, it’s simply because someone had need of a towel! Just use common sense and don’t leave things open to temptation.

You’re safe from “theft” in Fiji, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands. But is it really theft in Samoa (or Tonga) if it’s not really your beach towel in the first place? If someone needs “your” beach towel more than you do, shouldn’t they have it?

Anyway, in Samoa it’s not just a hypothetical beach towel that’s “gone missing”.

It’s an entire day!

3 thoughts on “Fa’afetai e Atua o le Aso Faraile”

  1. This demonstrates the myth of the Noble Savage…that the evils of mankind are a part of his Nature, not his environment. There is no family of Mankind free of Liars, thieves, murderers, cheats, perverts, etc. These are universal traits. This also raises the question of Cultural relativism vs objective and universal ethics applicable across all times, peoples, and places. Is ‘Private property’ merely a convention of particular societies or is it an objective ethical truth, that ought to be recognized by all, and that those societies that do not recognise it are in darkness? I think “Thou shalt not steal”… is almost a universally understood ethic, derived from the Golden rule ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. Even The Savage Maori whom were governed by UTU…back in the days of first contact with Europeans understood the principle of ‘Theft’. It is recorded that during one contact and trade of goods between some Maori and a European Ship that one Maori snatched back something that had been traded and jumped ship into the canoe which was leaving for the shore. One of the Europeans took a Pu and shot at the offender. When the Canoe reached shore, the offender slumped over dead. The rest of the Maori discussed the events and decided not to exact UTu upon the Europeans… because they knew the dead man was a thief.. he deserved it. Now Pre-European Maori Society was extremely barbarous They did not understand Private property as a right …yet they still understood this rudimentary ethic and justice of retribution. Tim Wikiriwhi

  2. hi!

    for our business studies project we’re making a calendar celebrating pacific island cultures. we’re struggling to find enough images to really represent what samoan culture really is about! we were wondering if we were able to use your images off this website in our calendar that we intend to sell,

    thank you

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