Friends in Samoa


Samoan children are proud of their beautiful islands, their heritage, and their traditional way of life. Some of our friends in Samoa have provided the following glimpses of their beautiful island life.

Beautiful Country

Samoa is a beautiful country, and I am very happy to live here. Some of the kinds of food I am used to eating are taros, bananas, and yams cooked in coconut cream; cocoa; and taro leaves baked in coconut cream. We also drink juice from the young coconut called niu.

Meridian Maumasi, Age 11 Pesega, Upolu, Western Samoa

An Umu

This is how to make a Samoan umu. An umu is food cooked by hot stones. First we chop some wood and put the umu stones on top of them. Then we light the wood to make the stones very hot. While the stones are getting hot, we prepare the food. We scrape the skin off the taro with a coconut shell. We peel the skin of the bananas with a long flat stick. We wrap the food in banana leaves and put it on the hot stones. We cover the food with big banana leaves and sacks. After a while the food is cooked.

Paula Schwenke, Age 9 Alamagoto, Upolu, Western Samoa

Samoan Handicraft

One type of handicraft is making Samoan baskets.

First I go out and cut some long green leaves from a type of palm tree called laupaono. With a long bush knife I cut off the sharp edges from the leaves. Then I take them out in the sun and leave them for two weeks. The sun dries them out and they turn a brown colour.

Next I roll each leaf into a bundle and tie these bundles with a piece from the leaf. These bundles are left in the sun again for about a week until they are light brown in colour.

I then take them into the house and cut the leaves into long narrow strips. If I want two or more colours for my basket, I dye the leaves different colours.

I decide on the size, design, and shape of the basket. With some heavy wire or pieces of bamboo tied together, I make the shape I want. Then I weave the leaves around that shape. When I am finished, I have a nice basket.

Tagaloa Burgess, Age 11 Pesega, Upolu, Western Samoa

Samoan Homes

The homes in Samoa are different from homes in other countries.

The foundation comes first and is made up of large stones at the bottom, filled and leveled with smaller stones. These stones form an oval shape. They are built anywhere from one foot to three feet high. In some houses mats are laid down on these stones for the floor; in other houses cement is poured over the stones to make a cement floor. The steps are made from stones.

Next posts are put around in the foundation to hold up the roof and form the sides of the house. They are made from small poumuli and tamanu trees from the plantations. The bark is taken off the posts, and sometimes they are varnished, which makes them shine.

The roof is built from rafters made from long branches of trees smaller than the posts. The thatch is taken from sugar cane leaves. These are woven into strips and tied together with strings that are made from coconut husks called afa. Then the thatch is tied to the aso, smaller pieces of wood about one-inch wide that reach from the bottom of the roof to the top. The roof is round on two ends and makes a point at the top. It looks something like half of an egg-shell lying on its side with a peak at the top.

These houses are open. We have blinds made from coconut leaves all around the house to keep out the wind and rain. When it rains, we just untie or pull the afa and they fall down. This is a Samoan house.

Galoiola Taouma, Age 12 Faleasi’u, Upolu, Western Samoa

A Samoan Oven

Most Samoan families have an umu, or a Samoan oven, on Sunday.

First you make sure you have 40 to 60 medium-sized stones and a pile of firewood. Make a fire with the wood and put all the stones in it to get them very hot. They are heated for about one hour.

Now you push the heated stones out of the fire, brush them, and flatten them out to the size you want your oven to be. You then place taro, ta’amu, breadfruit, yams, or green bananas on one side of the hot stones. Put a pig on the other side of the hot stones. Cover with hot stones. Banana leaves are placed on top of the stones, and fish or chicken is put on the leaves and then covered again with ta’amu, banana, and breadfruit leaves. Then burlap bags are placed on top to keep the heat in. This is left for about an hour and a half to cook. When the time is up, you have some very good food to eat from your Samoan umu.

Taufou Iafeta, Age 11 Elise Fou, Upolu, Western Samoa

[illustration] Drawing by Luana Atoa Lotopa, Age 9, Upolu, Western Samoa

[illustration] Drawing by Galoiola Taouma, Age 12, Faleasi’u, Upolu, Western Samoa