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MAIN PAGE: DEREK FREEMAN: MARGARET MEAD AND SAMOA

11 Aggressive Behavior and Warfare

In her depiction of the ease and casualness of their society, Mead, as we have seen, gave special emphasis to the „unaggres-siveness“ of the Samoans, describing them as „one of the most amiable, least contentious, and most peaceful peoples in the world.“ They were, she reiterated in 1950, a „peaceful and constructive people“ among whom warfare had been „stylized as part of the interrelationship between villages that were ceremonial rivals and occasioned few casualties.“ These assertions, on which Mead so relied in her general theorizing about Samoa, are markedly at variance with the facts of Samoan history.1

The reputation of the Samoans as an unusually bellicose people began, for Europeans, in 1787, with the fierce affray in which twelve members of the ill-fated La Perouse Expedition and some thirty Tutuilans lost their lives. La Perouse observed of the Samoans, „the least dispute between them is followed by blows from clubs, sticks or paddles; and often, no doubt, costs the combatants their lives. Almost all of them are covered with scars, which must have been the consequences of these private quarrels.“ In 1824 Otto von Kotzebue, who had had to force the Tutuilans from the sides of his ship with long poles when they tried to storm it, considered them to be „perhaps the most ferocious people to be met with in the South Seas.“ It was not, however, until the early 1830s that the bellicosity of the Samoans became firmly established through the observations and inquiries of the pioneer missionary and explorer John Williams.2 When Williams reached Savai'i from Tonga in 1830, a „devastating war“ occasioned by the assassination of the chief Ta-mafaiga was raging in the district of A'ana at the western end of the island of Upolu. Williams could clearly see the villages of A'ana enveloped in flames and smoke. When the paramount chief, Malietoa Vai-inu-po, returned from the fighting to greet Williams and his fellow missionary Charles Barff, he gave them to understand that war was „his great delight“ and said that the thing he most wanted, as he would be the laughing stock of his brother chiefs if he were not given it, was a musket. This war between the inhabitants of A'ana and the more numerous forces of Manono and its allies lasted for eight months, with frequent set battles involving hundreds of warriors. Williams recounts that during the course of this war, in which well over a thousand people lost their lives, canoes would arrive in Savai'i with the remains of those who had fallen, and that „the dismal howlings and lamentations of the relatives, their frantic behavior, the frightful lacerations they inflicted upon themselves with shells and shark's teeth, together with the horrid appearance of the victims,“ kept everyone in „a state of intense excitement and distress.“ When A'ana finally surrendered, more than four hundred of its inhabitants, including many women and children, who had been sheltering in forts, were „thrown indiscriminately into large fires,“ while others, according to Williams, were cut open and had their hearts torn out. At the end of this war those who had been defeated were, in accordance with Samoan custom, driven from their lands, and their houses and plantations were laid waste, so that when Thomas Heath toured A'ana some five years later he could „scarcely see a hut in a distance of ten miles, where formerly had dwelt perhaps 5,000 or 6,000 people.“3

Whether any of the numerous wars of the earlier history of Samoa, many of which also involved entire districts, were as devastating as the A'ana war of 1830-1831, we cannot be sure; there is, however, substantial evidence that wars in pagan Samoa were „exceedingly frequent.“ Williams records that although ignorant of the art of writing the chiefs of Manono kept, in a sacred house on the nearby island of Apolima (which they used as a fortress), a basket in which each war in which they had fought had been marked by the depositing of a stone, the size of each stone indicating the magnitude of the war it commemorated. When these stones were counted in 1832, they numbered 197, and when Stair later took possession of this basket he found that some of the stones were much larger than others.4

Williams' landfall on 17 October 1832, on his second voyage to Samoa, was Ta'u in Manu'a. He found that about four months earlier the settlement of Ta'u, when attempting to invade and conquer the nearby island of Olosega with a fleet of about one hundred canoes (in retaliation for a previous killing in a long-standing feud), had suffered a severe defeat. Thirty-five of their number had been slain, a loss that more than decimated the able-bodied adult male population of the settlement of Ta'u. Comparable death rates occurred, as I shall presently substantiate, in a war that took place between Ta'u and Olosega some fifty years later.5

Such intervillage conflict, albeit in a less severe form, continued into the twentieth century. Thus, some four years after Mead's research in Manu'a there was, in direct continuation of their ancient feud, a major affray between Ta'u and Olosega. Again, as Holmes noted, following his research in Manu'a and Tutuila in 1954, „serious conflicts between villages“ often occurred and it was „not unusual for the government anthropologist in Tutuila to be summoned in the middle of the night to try to settle differences between two outlying villages before violence occurs.“ In Western Samoa in 1964, when its inhabitants numbered approximately 123,000, there were forty-nine affrays sufficiently serious to require intervention by the police, yielding the high rate of forty affrays per annum per 100,000 of population.6

Such affrays, which may involve from ten to fifty or more individuals of both sexes and all ages from rival local polities or from families of the same village, are in effect small-scale undeclared wars, in which fists, sticks, and stones tend to be used rather than more dangerous weapons. Affrays have long been characteristic of Samoan society; there are numerous reports of them in mission and other records. In 1836, for example, on Savai'i, Piatt and Wilson observed a „regular fight“ in which the members of two neighboring polities were „belaboring one another's heads with sticks and stones,“ a conflict occasioned by the people of one polity having „killed and baked a hog belonging to another.“7

Affrays also commonly occur between rivalrous extended families of the same village, and may continue intermittently over several days until those involved are either apprehended and fined by the local fono or restrained by the police. In 1961, for example, such an affray occurred between two families, the Sa Oloaga and the Sa Manu'o, in Lufilufi on the north coast of Upolu. It began when Lusia and Peone, the 10- and 11-year old daughters of Suapusi, the chief of the Sa Oloaga, encountered Pota'e and Fa'ani, two adolescent female members of their long-standing rivals, the Sa Manu'o. Seeing Pota'e and Fa'ani, Peone remarked, for all to hear, „How superior are those excrement eaters' mouths!“ This at once led to a fight in which Lusia and Peone, who were conveniently armed with sticks, managed to drive off their older rivals. The next day Maria, an older sister of Peone and Lusia, as she was going to church, came upon Pota'e and Fa'ani in the roadway. As she passed them, Pota'e coughed loudly. „Who are you coughing at?“ said Maria. „At no one other than you!“ retorted Pota'e. In the ensuing fight, which involved three girls from each family, Pota'e was hammered on the head with a stone so that she had to be taken to the hospital. At this Fetuana'i, the chief of the Manu'o family, sought out the wife of his rival chief, Suapusi. After further wounding insults, there was another serious affray between five members of each family, during which females on both sides bared their buttocks at one another. That night Opapo, of the Sa Manu'o, who had been drinking, was heard shouting (in English) outside the house of Oloaga Suapusi: „Oloaga! Come and have a war!“ This „war“ took place the following day with a fierce stone-throwing affray in which several individuals were badly injured. It was finally stopped by a number of staff-wielding talking chiefs. Nine members of the Sa Oloaga and ten members of the Sa Manu'o were later convicted of assault and provoking a breach of the peace. Lusia, the 10-year-old who had started it all, was fined £10.8

This case well illustrates various facets of the rivalrous aggression that is so characteristic of Samoan society: for example, the concern of rivals about their relative rank, the way in which fights are willfully provoked by verbal insults or other displays, the quickness with which a rival takes offense, the readiness of others of the same group to be drawn into the fighting; the vigor with which talking chiefs act to quell an affray; and finally, the fact that adolescent girls are prone to rivalrous aggression, just as are adolescent boys. In 1963, for example, also in Lufilufi, an 18-year-old girl, Fa'atupu, having become incensed with Pese, a 32-year-old woman of another 'aiga, for having remarked that Fa'atupu had „sucked up“ to the village pastor, rushed with her brothers into the house of Pese and her mother and struck each of them repeatedly on the head with a stone while her brothers held their arms. During the attack on the mother, moreover, Fa'atupu's father, who was also present, shouted, „Bash her until her brains burst forth!“ Both Pese and her mother were admitted to the hospital with suspected concussion. Fa'atupu and her two brothers were convicted of having caused „actual bodily harm“ and were heavily fined.9

Affrays involving males tend to result in much more serious injuries. In Safotu on the north coast of Savai'i in October 1961, a 25-year-old Safotu man fought with and knocked unconscious a male rival from the nearby village of Avao. He was pursued by ten young men of Avao, hit twice on the head with a Samoan cricket bat, and then stoned to death. Five of his assailants were adolescents. All ten assailants were convicted of manslaughter and given sentences ranging from three to seven years.10

Affrays also occur in American Samoa. On 30 October 1967, for example, in the village of Fagasa on the north coast of the island of Tutuila, after a rock throwing fight between two families who had long been locked in a feud over a plot of land, five people were taken to the hospital, and the fono of Fagasa threatened to exile from the polity one of the families concerned.11

With affrays such as these having an annual incidence (in Western Samoa) of 40 per 100,000 of population, and with the annual incidence of assault with bodily injury (see p. 164) being 105.1 per 100,000 of population, no credence can be given to Mead's assertion of 1950 that in Samoa „hostility between individuals“ is expressed „covertly in the form of gossip and political machinations rather than in open clashes,“ nor is there any empirical ground for accepting her assertion that Samoans „never hate enough to want to kill anybody.“12

The Samoan term for the cherishing of anger is ita fa'amoe-moe, literally „anger that has been slept upon,“ and such anger readily turns into hatred. And when hatred has taken root, murderous attacks do sometimes occur. In 1963, for example, Sio, a 20-year-old youth of Lotofaga on the south coast of Upolu, became so suffused with hatred for Aupito, a 39-year-old chief of a collateral branch of Sio's family, „because of his ungrateful and wrongful doings“ over the possession of a title that after midnight he crept into Aupito's house and slashed at his head with a long-bladed bush knife. Had not Aupito managed to avoid this blow he would certainly have been killed, for it cut deeply into the pillow and mattress on which he had been lying. Sio was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to ten years„ imprisonment.13

In another case of the many I might instance, Salu, a 23-year-old man of Vailoa village in Aleipata at the eastern end of Upolu, became incensed following the hearing of a dispute over his family's title at the Land and Titles Court on 15 December 1964, at which Saumalu Tui, a 65-year-old ali'i had given evidence that Salu judged to be in error. Salu came bitterly to hate this older member of his 'aiga, who was a first cousin of his deceased father. On New Year's Eve, 1964, in the Methodist Church at Vailoa, a service was held in which Saumalu Tui preached the sermon, while his nephew Salu played the organ. Toward the end of his sermon, Saumalu Tui exhorted the assembled villagers to „give up both lying and contending against chiefly authority in the hope that in the New Year they could achieve a new village.“ When Salu heard these words, and, in particular, Saumalu Tui's adjuration to give up lying, he was so overcome with hatred (as he later confessed to the police) that he at once left the church. Some time later, when Saumalu Tui was sitting outside his home scraping taro, Salu shot him in the head. When Saumalu Tui recovered consciousness in the hospital and was told who had been his assailant, he was „astonished,“ for, as he told the police, he had always looked upon his organ-playing nephew as „very good and quiet.“ Salu was convicted of having caused grievous bodily harm and sentenced to three years in prison.14

That their society is conducive to aggressive behavior is well recognized by the Samoans themselves. In the words of Ane-sone, the pastor of Mulinu'u, at a public reconciliation on 9 November 1966 between two litigating villages from the south coast of Upolu: „Conflict comes easily in this country of Samoa; a village that lives in peace is rarely found.“15

Again, Sir Angus Sharp, a former New Zealand Commissioner of Police, on retiring in mid 1978 after seventeen months as Commissioner of Police in Western Samoa, while praising the Samoans as a people with „a well deserved reputation for courtesy, hospitality and generosity,“ went on to observe that despite these virtues, the amount of violence among Samoans was „frightening.“ In 1977, he noted, 10 murders had been committed in Western Samoa, with a population of only 150,000. This is a rate of 6.66 per 100,000 of population. In American Samoa, in 1977, when the population was about 31,000, there were 8 criminal homicides, which equals a rate of about 25 per 100,000.16

In Studies in Homicide, M. E. Wolfgang presents a table of homicide rates of sixty-one countries that reported to the United Nations, ranging, in 1960, from Colombia, with 34.0 per 100,000, to Ireland with 0.2; the rate for the United States was 4.5. Western Samoa's homicide rate in 1977 was more than three times higher than that of Singapore, the median country in Wolfgang's list, while the rate in American Samoa was more than thirteen times higher.17

In cases of serious assault, that is of assault resulting in some kind of bodily injury, the comparisons are even more significant, for it is violence of this kind that has long been especially characteristic of Samoan society. There are, I am aware, numerous pitfalls in the path of those who would compare the crime rates of different countries. In Samoa, for example, a very high percentage of delicts, including assault, are dealt with directly by the chiefs of a local polity in an especially summoned fono, and so are not communicated to the police. This means that the percentage of cases of assault actually reported to the police in Samoa is likely to be considerably smaller than in some other countries. Again, there may be differences from one country to another in the definition of serious assault. All I am interested in, however, is a general and approximate indication of the comparative level of violence in Samoan society. If then we concentrate on cases of assault „causing bodily injury“ that were reported to the police in Western Samoa during the three years 1964-1966, the rate per 100,000 of population was 105.1 per annum. This compares with rates of 11.1 for New Zealand (for the male population aged 16 and over during the years 1957-1964), of 17.7 for Australia (1964-1966) and of 62.9 for the United States (cases of aggravated assault in 1965). On these figures the Western Samoan rate of cases of serious assault was, in the mid 1960s, about 67 percent higher than the U.S. rate, 494 percent higher than the Australian rate, and 847 percent higher than the New Zealand rate.18

If we next turn to cases of common assault known to the police in Western Samoa during the years 1964-1966, the rate per 100,000 of population was 773.35 per annum. The comparable U.S. rate (arrests during 1965) was 154.8, which means that the

Western Samoan rate for common assault in the mid 1960s was about five times higher than that of the United States.

These Samoan rates of homicide and assault, even if the above comparisons be only very approximate, when taken together with the cases I have presented, do demonstrate clearly that the people of Samoa are greatly given to interpersonal aggression, and are thus very far from being, as Mead claimed, one of the „least contentious and most peaceful peoples in the world.“

In constructing her picture of the „general casualness“ of Samoan culture, Mead also made light of the significance of warfare in Samoan history. For example, in her monograph of 1930 on the social organization of Manu'a, she stated that war, in the Manu'an islands, was „slight and spasmodic.“ Indeed, she attributed what she supposed to be the rudimentary development of religion in Manu'a to „the small population and lack of war.“ It was „plausible,“ she wrote, to suggest that „the numerous tales of conflict in myths“ might „all have been inspired by the same few intervillage clashes.“ War in Samoa then, as depicted by Mead (in 1928), was merely „a matter of village spite, or small revenge, in which only one or two individuals would be killed,“ or (as she stated in 1937) „a part of the ceremonial rivalry between villages“ being „fought for no gains other than prestige,“ in which case, once again, „casualties were low.“ In Manu'a, according to Mead, there were „no war gods,“ „bravery in warfare was never a very important matter,“ and the warrior did not hold „any important place in the society.“19

Mead's depiction of Samoan warfare is deeply at variance with the judgments of both the Samoans and the Europeans who witnessed Samoan warfare, in both the eastern and western islands of the archipelago, during the nineteenth century. Moa, an ali'i of Olosega, one of the islands of Manu'a, began his statement to the American Samoan Commission in 1930 with the observation that the Samoan people had been „very fond of war,“ and Tuitele, of Tutuila, told the Commission that in former centuries „district warred with district“ and „island warred with island.“ Again, the ali'i Tuatagaloa, of the Falealili District of the island of Upolu, in a speech to the Western Samoan

Royal Commission in 1927, said that Samoans had long been „accustomed to wars and bloodshed.“20

In the words of Murray, whose experience of Samoa, including Manu'a, extended over several decades from 1836 onward, „domestic and other feuds often disturbed the peace of the community, and wars, on greater or smaller scale, were of frequent occurrence and sometimes were attended with deeds of revolting cruelty.“ Stair, who was in western Samoa from 1838 to 1845, reports that wars amongst the Samoans were „frequent and bloody,“ and that the islands were seldom free from „actual warfare or local quarrels.“ When Wilkes arrived in Manu'a in October 1839, where, as Williams records, there had been a major conflict in 1832, he found the people again on the verge of war. Of the Samoan archipelago at large Wilkes notes that „scarcely a month passed without quarrels being avenged … with blows.“ He also records that in the war of 1830-1831 the inhabitants of A'ana in Upolu, had been „almost exterminated.“ King, in September 1864, following the outbreak of hostilities between Falealupo and a number of other villages at the western end of Savai'i, observed that war was „the one absorbing thought of all“; and Whitmee, who was (like King) in Samoa from 1863 to 1872, described the Samoans as being „in war … furious,“ and as exhibiting, when the war spirit was upon them, characteristics „totally different from anything one would think them capable of when seen in time of peace,“ being ready to „butcher and mutilate one another in the most barbarous manner.“ These statements are confirmed by Krämer, who has described the „violent passions“ of the otherwise amiable Samoans, which in time of war were „set recklessly free.“21

Krämer records that in Samoan warfare it was usual for male captives to be killed, after which everything that had fallen into the hands of the victors was carried away, while the settlements of the defeated were plundered and their plantations destroyed in the general devastation. That such devastation occurred is fully substantiated by Powell's eyewitness account of the war that broke out in Tutuila in 1859, following the murder of a young man of the family of Mauga, the high chief of Pago Pago. Because Le'iato, a rival ali'i, gave refuge to the kindred of those responsible for this murder, „war mania“ was soon rampant among the forces led by Mauga, and when Le'iato and his allies abandoned their villages and fled for safety to an offshore island, all of their houses were burnt, their plantations destroyed, their coconut and breadfruit trees cut down, and the graves of their dead desecrated. Such desecration commonly involved the taking of skulls, and, as Hardie recorded in 1844, it was a widespread practice in ancient Samoa, when invasion was apprehended for the skulls of departed relatives to be disinterred „to secure them from the insults of the invaders.“22

The slain on the battlefield were also, in Frazer's words, „treated with great indignity,“ their heads being hacked off and carried in triumph to be paraded before the high chiefs of the victors. Pritchard, who witnessed Samoan warfare during the decade 1848-1858, has given an account of the excitement and pride of the successful warrior as he capered before his approving chiefs with the head he had acquired, shouting in triumph „I've taken a man!“ „To a young Samoan,“ writes Pritchard, „this is the realization of his highest ambition, to be thus publicly thanked by the chiefs for slaying an enemy in mortal combat“ and then to become known, far and wide, as a toa, or „brave.“23

Such ferocious warfare produced, as Kramer notes, a longing for vengeance and retribution and frequently led to atrocities and other forms of revengeful behavior. In 1886 Josia, a Samoan pastor, recorded that in a war at Lepa, on the south coast of Upolu, numbers of children were killed, some being hung in trees to have spears thrown at them, while others were cut in half. Again, Williams records that following the war of 1832 between Ta'u and Olosega, a young woman obtained the head of the man who had killed her father. This head she burnt gradually upon a fire and, having beaten it to a powder, „cooked food on it which she ate with great delight.“ In some instances, as Hunkin reported from Manu'a in 1845, cannibalism was practiced „in the case of prisoners taken in war.“ Extremes of retaliatory aggression were also practiced following the assassination of the tyrannical Tamafaiga in 1830 by the people of A'ana, and, in particular, for the mutilation of his body. As Williams records, after Tamafaiga's head had been severed from his body, his legs were hacked off for his „gadding about to other people's settlements,“ his hands for his „seizing of other people's property,“ his „parts of generation“ for his having had „connection with other men's wives,“ and his tongue for his „intolerable insolence.“ Because of these extreme indignities the war of 1830-1831 was fought, as Williams reports, with „frightful severity.“ Thus, as already noted, some hundreds of women and children were cast into huge fires, and according to Heath several human victims, mostly boys were „baked and eaten like hogs.“24

The casualties in the Samoan wars for which we have historical information, as I have already indicated, were very far from being trivial. When the people of A'ana reoccupied their devastated lands in 1836, some 3000 returned to a district where, according to Heath, perhaps 5000 or 6000 people had formerly lived. From this and other evidence it would seem likely that from 1000 to 1500 people, or up to a quarter of the population of A'ana, lost their lives in the war of 1830-1831, and the dead of Manono and her allies probably ran into some hundreds. While this is certainly the most devastating war of which we have reliable knowledge, there is also evidence of substantial loss of life in other conflicts. For example, when hostilities broke out anew between Manono and A'ana and their allies in June 1848, there was further large-scale destruction of the houses and plantations of A'ana; as Hardie reported in August 1848, 130 were killed in the first two months of fighting.25

There is well-substantiated evidence that warfare in Manu'a, where the total population in the mid nineteenth century was little more than 1400, was comparably destructive. Indeed, during the nineteenth century the people of Manu'a had the reputation of being exceptionally bellicose. For example, Murray, from his own observations as well as those of Matthew Hunkin, who was stationed in Manu'a for six years from 1842 onward, has noted that it was „the universal testimony of all the islands,“ as of the Manu'ans themselves, that they greatly exceeded the Samoans of the western islands in „barbarity and ferocity.“ Similarly, Young has noted that historically the

Manu'ans have had the reputation of „being the fiercest of warriors.“ As already recounted, the war of 1832 in Manu'a resulted, if Williams' testimony be accepted, in the deaths of approximately 16 percent of the adult male population of the settlement of Ta'u, a very severe rate of loss. Heavy losses also occurred with the resumption of warfare between Ta'u and Olosega during the years 1866-1871, a period for which Powell's reports provide detailed and reliable information. Of either this war or that of 1832, Mead makes no mention whatsoever.26

The war of 1866-1871 was precipitated when Lalolagi, a young chief of Olosega, usurped the age-old prerogative of the Tui Manu'a of having a conch-shell trumpet blown by a talking chief when he went on a ceremonial journey. In retaliation for this insult to their paramount chief, the polity of Ta'u in 1866 launched an attack on the island of Olosega, in which seven warriors of Olosega and three of Ta'u were killed. After another affray in August 1867, in which six from Ta'u lost their lives, the forces of Ta'u, in September 1867, with a loss of nine of their own number, killed fifteen of their enemies, after which the entire population of Olosega fled to Tutuila, leaving their lands to be devastated by Ta'u. Two years later, in 1869, after their return to their island, a newly elected Tui Olosega and the members of his party were attacked and killed during a ceremonial visit to Ta'u, and the polity of Fitiuta, the ancient rival of Ta'u, gave refuge to the followers of this murdered chief. Ta'u attacked Fitiuta in January 1871, and eight men from Ta'u lost their lives, two of them having their heads taken. By the time Powell finally succeeded in bringing a halt to these protracted hostilities in May 1871, he had recorded 55 male deaths over a period of six years. In 1862, a few years before this war began, the total population of Manu'a consisted of 688 females and 780 males. From data recorded by Powell, it is known that approximately 40 percent of these 780 males were boys, leaving a total of about 470 men. On these figures, the 55 men killed in warfare between 1866 and 1871 represents a loss of 11.7 percent of the adult male population of Manu'a, which is, once again, a severe rate of loss. Indeed, from the available data on Samoan warfare during the nineteenth century there is good reason to accept

Brown's view that „the wars of the Samoans tended for a long time to check the natural increase of population.“ These same data, furthermore, make it plainly evident that warfare in Samoa, far from being characterized, as Mead asserted, by low casualties, was, in fact, decidedly destructive of human life.27 Moreover, instead of having been, as Mead supposed, a form of stylized „ceremonial rivalry,“ warfare in Samoa was in reality a violent and ruthless struggle for political dominance. As Ella has noted, each of the political spheres of Samoa was „divided into two parties“ the maid, or „conquerors,“ and the to'ilalo, or „conquered and enslaved.“ This divisiveness gave rise to an unending struggle for supremacy, with first one alliance of local polities and then another gaining dominance. A war, Erskine noted in 1853, was not considered at an end until the conquered party made „with many degrading ceremonies and promises, full submission to the victors,“ and this outcome could only be achieved when one side had inflicted a crippling defeat on the other. Samoan warfare was thus a violent struggle between rival polities for outright dominance, and it is this fact which accounts for the ferocity and tenacity with which wars were fought, as also for the numerous casualties and not infrequent atrocities. In September 1853, for example, more than five years after the struggle between Manono and A'ana and their allies had again erupted into open conflict in June 1848, Turner reported that Manono and Savai'i were „as determined as ever on having the upper hand“ while A'ana and her ally Atua, rather than submit to their traditional rivals, were ready to „die first,“ with each side being „bent on the other's ruin.“ Similarly, in Manu'a, as Williams observed in 1832, there was a mal5 that held supremacy in consequence of being the strongest. In Manu'a this supremacy rested with the paramount chief of the local polity of Ta'u, the Tui Manu'a, and, as already recounted, when the people of Olosega challenged this supremacy in 1866 by the usurping of one of the Tui Manu'a's traditional prerogatives, they were defeated and forced to surrender their lands, for a time, to the malo of Ta'u. In Samoa then, as the history of their warfare demonstrates, the rank system was derived from, and continuously depended upon, the attainment of political dominance by force of arms. Further, the high levels of aggression noted earlier in this chapter, which still obtain in Samoa, stem predominantly, today as in the past, from the numerous situations of contentious rivalry generated by dominance and rank.28

In Samoan society, in which those who conquered were of the highest rank, the prowess of the warrior (contrary to Mead's assertion) was valued above all else, with bravery in warfare being esteemed as the most important of all manly attributes. In Samoan values, as the novelist Albert Wendt has noted, the coward was execrated beyond all others. Krämer, following Pratt, lists no fewer than twelve terms in the Samoan language, all of them derogatory, referring to cowards. It is to Mead's assertions about the Samoans' lack of appreciation of bravery in warfare, and her related claims as to the „scant premium … upon fortitude and endurance,“ that Samoan men take the keenest exception. For example, in Si'ufaga in 1967, when I repeated Mead's statement that the warrior did not hold any important place in Manu'an society, the immediate and irate response of one of the orators of the high chief Lefiti was, „How could a warrior who has demonstrated his prowess on behalf of his polity possibly lack importance!“29

As Williams noted in 1832, warriors were in fact „held in great estimation by the chiefs,“ who supplied them with their every need and forbade them to engage in ordinary work. Throughout Samoa, furthermore, the holders of the highest chiefly titles were all descendants of illustrious warriors. In the eastern islands, as noted in Chapter 9, Ali'a Tama was the warrior from whom the paramount rank of Ta'ü and the Tui Manu'a stemmed, while in the western islands the august title of Malietoa (which is at present held by Malietoa Tanumafili II, the Head of State of Western Samoa) was acquired in the thirteenth century when the brothers Tuna and Fata, as they drove the last of the Tongan invaders from Samoan shores, were s hailed by the departing Tui Tonga Talakaifaike with the words, „Brave warriors! Well fought! I will not again venture to Samoa in a war canoe!“ The memory of this occasion still excites the pride of Samoans, as does Marathon that of the Greeks.30

R. S. Moore and J. R. Farrington, who accompanied the congressional commission to American Samoa in 1931, were shown a 150-year-old war club with which, they say, a „hero had slain many enemies and won a place in village history similar to that of George Washington in American history.“ When such a warrior fell in battle his obsequies were marked, as Pratt notes, by a fire that was kept burning for seven days, and his war club, as Pritchard mentions, was often laid on his grave as a „mute record of his valor and prowess.“ Further, in most Samoan polities there were traditionally vanguards, the warriors of which, as Turner notes, boasted of their right to lead any attack and, like Spartans, of the „glory of dying in battle.“31

In Samoan society, then, in the nineteenth and earlier centuries, the warrior held a place of high importance. Even today, decades after the suppression of open warfare by European governments, young Samoan men can be heard, especially when intoxicated, giving voice to the high-pitched challenge of former times and volubly claiming the vaunted status of a warrior of some local polity.

Among such a warlike people there were, not surprisingly, numerous war gods. Turner in his classic account of the religion of pagan Samoa discusses about seventy superior gods (as he calls them), more than half of whom were war gods, with Le Fanoga, who was incarnate in the owl, being one of the most important of them in both the eastern and western islands.32 Here, once again, Mead's account is both mistaken and confused. For example, having asserted in Social Organization of Manu'a that there were „no war gods“ in Manu'a, she goes on to record that the owl, whose cry „meant war,“ was „a war spirit“ on Ofu, one of the islands of Manu'a. Further, Le Fanoga, the „war god“ of whom she makes mention, had, as Powell (whom she cites) makes clear, originated in Manu'a. He was a son of Tagaloa, and incarnate in the owl, which was, as Mead herself records, the incarnation of a god „formerly worshipped“ in Ta'u.33 Hardie, writing in the late 1830s, identified the war god Le Fanoga as an attendant upon the Tui Manu'a, and recorded the following prayer offered to Le Fanoga „in time of war“:

O Fanoga, compassionate us, receive our offerings and be propitious to us and make us prosperous; save us from injury and death. When our enemies pursue us make our backs invisible to them, and let it be bright and clear before us. May no yam holes or other pits or snares be in our way, and make us strong and quick of foot that we may escape unhurt. When we pursue our enemies, let their backs be visible to us but we invisible to them; let yam holes, and other pits and snares and obstacles be in the way that we may overtake and kill them and obtain the victory and ruling power!34

That the Manu'ans did indeed have war gods, upon whom they called for strength and assistance, is made clear not only by Powell and Hardie but also by Williams, who in Ta'u in October 1832 recorded, in Samoan, a prayer that he translates: „0 Tagaloa! Make your people valiant! Conquer and drive away those who make war on us!“ In Manu'a, as in the rest of Samoa during the nineteenth and earlier centuries, far from being „slight and spasmodic“ as Mead would have it, warfare was a common occurrence and often highly destructive of human life and property.35 


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aggressive_behavior_and_warfare.txt · Poslední úprava: 2024/05/29 19:35 autor: 127.0.0.1