02 September 2010

Samoa VS South Africa

A few weeks back, the Samoa Observer ran an article on New Zealand-based Samoan woman Sefulu Falealili Hermens who claims poverty does not exist in Samoa, after her experience of witnessing poverty in South Africa.  She was over there for the FIFA World Cup.

I was shocked to think anyone, especially a Samoan, would compare Samoa and South Africa, then come to the conclusion that there is no poverty in Samoa.  And her quote "I always hear that there is poverty in Samoa...but I can tell you from what I saw in South Africa, there is no poverty in Samoa", makes me think she is in no position to be talking on the topic because she has either not been to Samoa, at least in recent years, or she has and is blind because the reality is, poverty DOES exist in Samoa.

It is undeniable that Western ways have been encroaching on fa'asamoa for over a hundred years and has led to natural resources being underutilized by many in Samoa.  There are generations of Samoans who don't know how to put stuff in the ground to make stuff grow for food and shelter.  My question is, is that enough to make ends meet in Samoa today?  Keep in mind a few other basics in life like health care, education and clean running water.  They all cost money remember.

Ignorant people often point the finger and claim that all poverty is self-inflicted.  I disagree and feel compelled to give them the one fingered peace sign.  As with anyone who is living in poverty, one can only imagine the circumstances which have led to their lifestyle.  Laziness leading to poverty is self-inflicted.  Falling through the cracks leading to poverty is injustice.  The ignorant who see people in poverty need to open their eyes and look beyond what is in front of them because the real issue is what has got people in that situation in the first place.

With all that said, I think comparing standards of living between Samoa and South Africa is ridiculous.  Just because the face of poverty in South Africa compared to Samoa seems to be overtly in your face and there seems to be more hope, especially in regards to natural resources for Samoa compared to South Africa, it does not mean poverty does not exist in Samoa.  Poverty comes in all different shapes and sizes.  I only wish Sefulu could see that too.

This is me - Teine 'Afakasi.


Anonymous said...

Talofa Teine Afakasi

An interesting subject. But I think Sefulu was talking in comparisons. Sure there is material poverty in Samoa, but every Samoan has rights to land and can therefore sustain themselves. In South Africa and other countries where a large number of people do not have access to land, they live in squalid shanty towns, in makeshift housing, having greater risk to health issues etc. Those basics are available to all Samoans. Not so for all South Africans.

lil_miss_susieQ said...

I've lived in Sa for a few years and poverty in comparison with South Africa's? South Africa most definitely does not have the essentials that our own people have. We have our land which bears all kinds of food, kalo, ufi, fa'i, ulu from the ground and fish, palolo, sea snails from the sea (just a few) but you gotta ask yourself what does South Africa have? In comparison to our people, they have nothing.

Anonymous said...

Have you been to South Africa Teine? And have you seen the houses built with scraps, barely standing up side by side. Have you seen the children dying of starvation every day, all day?

Teine 'Afakasi said...

While I have not been to South Africa, the point I am making with this blogpost is that what we see on Unisef and World Vision television advertisments of starving dying children in Africa is not the only face of poverty.

I am not disputing the fact that Samoa has plenty of natural resources available. What use is land and sea when you don't know how to garden or fish?