May the Fire of the Peninsula Sea Be With You

So I say to you humbly that when you should choose to go to the peninsula.. “Remember our tender hearts and tread carefully. The birds and God are watching us from their higher places..”

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May the fire of the peninsula sea be with you!

When you look at Mulinu’u peninsula, at first glance, it’s a restful tail of a sandy filled fish like hook. But deeper eyes will find a journeyed home of swaying palms and gravestones of welcoming spirits for the disconnected. They come to belong, to make amends, and to borrow from our hearts some courage. They come from afar to find their way. The peninsula’s high moon shimmered the silver sea and tailed the coconut crabs for years even as I knew it when I was a child. 

The hoisting of the first flag of Independence by joint Heads of State, 1 Jan 1962, Malae o Tiafau, Mulinuu Peninsula.

The first flag of our beloved country, and the first star gazer of the Samoa observatory stand there amidst the soldiering trees. Yet the sea breeze whispers of romance only. When you stand at the sea wall, you look out to the Apia Harbor. And you feel the loneliness of the lighthouse or what it seems to serve as one.

Photo: Taielua, Samoa Global News.

The cathedral by the seaside is still as magnificent as it was, but modernized with colors of revival. You get the feeling that there were others who stood there before you. And you wonder of the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Yet, here we are, market free, intelligently viable, bloodless and independent. We have arrived here with theirs and our dignity intact. 

Malae o Tiafau with Mt Vaea in the distance, 1900. Image: Thomas Andrew (1855-1939)

Lately I have been thinking about the march passes we endured as children at the Mulinuu peninsula. The long independence celebrations. The 4am wake up call, by our fussy grandmothers. As if the clock would stop being so quick on an important day as such. I remember the salute of high officials and how despite the sun, all Samoans had a straight backbone and squared shoulders, chins up. Even the bird filled pulu trees seemed to salute us from their higher locations.

Schools and groups lining up for the Independence march pass.

The old court house stood there unnoticed but it too had reason to survive a terrible moment of our journey. It was a heartbroken witness to the Saturday that darkened all Saturdays for our people. Along the road as we marched, the smell of sugar cane, mosooi and lopa, lingered like love all day. The fautasi races, my favorite would be the highlight I took home, to remember my grandfather by.

 

I realise recalling our independence days celebrations that when it comes to the significance of the Mulinuu peninsula, our ability to protest is important. For to take a stand for our heritage and to say it with meaning for our children to come, is our duty. But to carry ourselves with humility while doing so is an inborn gift. A Samoan’s humility is made only of stunning white pearls and flowers.

Reverend Bismark Eti Tamati kneels before Samoa Police moving in to arrest elected MPs. 15 Sept 2021.

As a Samoan child participating in the march passes for independence, I gathered that we had to urge the soils we walk on to be not so offended by our very existence. Our language was silent but our poise stern. We bowed to the hills of Mount Vaea to promise that when the rivers overflow, we will be there to cherish and clean them.

Samoa, 2000’s.
Samoa, 1800s.

And our leaders were there to promise us some things too. So when we left for the day, the hibiscus and frangipani flowers followed us.

In my heart I felt that if we were marching for something else, I don’t think God would join us. Because somewhere in those marches, I felt that the essence of the freedom lit peninsula we were on, was forgiveness. 

Speaker calls for a historical day of forgiveness. 17 Sept 2021. Photo: Parliament of Samoa.

If you do not know it yet dear island citizen, the Mulinuu peninsula was made with the fire of the burning sea. The bleeding hearts of our heroes are buried under it. So that when we turn up one day to claim our ownership of it and them, God will laugh and say, ‘Welcome, you are here to stay! But only if you forgive yourself first!’

Till then we cannot be trusted to keep our promises to each other and our children. Till then we cannot be free.

Barricades circle the Malae o Tiafau, Mulinuu Peninsula, 13 Sept 2021.

So I say to you humbly that when you should choose to go to the peninsula dear island citizen, “Remember our tender hearts and tread carefully. The birds and God are watching us from their higher places..”

“But I wish you well in your endeavors. May the fire of the peninsula sea always be with you!“


Lumepa Hald