New Novel Provides Fresh Insights into Samoa’s Rich Culture

Lani Wendt Young

Our recent blog posts might suggest that Samoa is all about sport so it’s time to redress the balance. The very name of our country Sa-Moa means “Sacred Earth,” and suggests that our culture digs deep into our hearts and bonds us with our sacred earthly home. This concept is expressed in a modern way for young readers  by the Samoan writer Lani Wendt Young who hosted the official launch of her first novel: Telesa; The Covenant Keeper and her story has been summarised thus:

 Nestled in the heart of the Pacific is Samoa – a lush tropical paradise. We walk to a different drum beat. Here, ancient mythology tells of Telesa. Demon women who are guardians of earth and gifted with the elemental powers of Air, Water and Fire.Telesa are vengeful and cruel.Tales to frighten children.Or are they more than that? From Washington D.C, comes Leila, in search of family, a place to belong. Instead she finds her destiny and it threatens to tear her apart. There is the bewitching call of a telesa sisterhood and there is Daniel. Will Leila embrace her birthright or will she choose the one who offers her his love with a crooked smile and dancing green eyes? Will Daniel be the element that gentles the fire of the Telesa? Or must love burn at the altar of the telesa covenant? There are many different kinds of love. All of them require sacrifice. Who will give everything for the one they love?

The novel is both contemporary and ancient – linking today’s environmental concerns with timeless Samoan traditions of stewardship and respect for Nature’s forces. Lani wrote the book to both encourage the youth of Samoa to enjoy the pleasures of reading, and reconnect with their rich cultural heritage. Lani’s speech at the book launch can be sourced on her blog “Sleepless in Samoa” here.

Another key is Nafanua – the estranged mother of the central character of Leila. In traditional Samoan mythology, Nafanua is the Goddess of War and known for her prowess in battle – one of the very few women Chiefs who had united her country. In Lani’s book she is portrayed both as a throughly modern woman who enjoys the trappings of a contemporary lifestyle – her red sports car, blackberry, fine clothes, wine and food  – but who is also a fierce protectoress of all things traditional and very in tune with the land and the elemental spirit world.

Lani asked Vaimasenu’u to speak about Nafanua at the book launch because they share a common love of literature, a passion for their Samoan culture and a desire to see their children come to treasure its richness. Zita couldn’t attend as she was in Lausanne making a pitch to host the World Archery Cup events but overcame all her technophobia to make, record, and upload the following video blog. For those of you who want to understand the values that drive the Polynesian Xplorer team and make our tours so popular with our guests, you’ll really enjoy listening. So pour that coffee,  sit back, press start and be transported to another world. Better still, call +685 26940 and we’ll transport you to another world that offers all the contemporary comforts and attractions but which also provides a doorway to the sacred and elemental!!


About xplorer

Strategist, change agent, thinker, and as often as possible a heretic. My passion helping others "make sense of their world" then find ways of working collaboratively to make it a better place in which to flourish.

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