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.