16 Nov We need a man to be the matai

My father turned 80 earlier this year. Getting older has only made him more wiley and more in tune with how to navigate communications with his fia feminist daughter…and I leave their house everyday shaking my head because he’s won again.

Like this convo.

Dad – Did you see this newspaper article about my village? They got funding to make a marine reserve and do an eco-tourism venture.

Me – That’s nice.

Dad – I need some beach fales built on our family land so we can make the most of this venture. Do you and your husband want to build some fales? For free? And be part of it?

Me – No Dad. We don’t have any spare money lying around to build beach fales.

Dad – I’ll ask your husband if he has any money for fales.

Me, righteously – But his money is my money. We’re a couple. A team. We have a joint account. So if I say there’s no money, why would he have some money for beach fales? You’re being a bit sexist.

Dad – No I’m not. You’re trying to be the boss of your husband. He has his own mind. I can ask him for his opinion.

Me – Sure. Okay.

*Long pause while my Dad cranks up his crafty calculating…*

Dad – I’ve been thinking about giving your husband a matai title. Do you think he wants one?

Me – Why would you offer him one?! He’s not your child. I’m sitting right here. I’m your daughter. I’m a member of this aiga. Why don’t you ask ME if I want a matai title?

Dad – But we need a man.


Dad, not bothered at all – It’s got nothing to do with equality. We need a man, your husband, to be a matai because he knows how to build beach fales. Can you build beach fales?

Me, still spluttering – No. But that’s not the point here.

Dad – Yes it is. I need beach fales. Your husband can build them. If he’s a matai then he will come be part of our village and our aiga and work together, and build me some beach fales. Besides, do you even want to have a matai title?

Me – No.

Dad, shaking his head at my vasti’ness – So why are you getting mad for? You don’t want it.

I have no words.

*My Dad walks off muttering about daughters who don’t know how to build beach fales, and don’t want to be matai, but still want to be the boss of other people being matai and building beach fales…* 



  • Vai Atonio

    Tuaopepe is right, give him a TITLE to honor him, also be recognized as a real member of the “aiga potopoto”. To be a matai within the family, no one can bother him if he builds fale, because he holds the title…. of the aiga. Plus Tuaopepe is the chief of the aiga potopoto….”usikai i le koeaiga” lol..

    November 16, 2018 at 3:29 pm
  • nola

    hahahaha that is so funny!!

    November 16, 2018 at 5:33 pm
  • Kisa

    So reminds me of my convos with my father lol

    November 17, 2018 at 6:54 am
  • Filiga T. Niko Bird

    It’s Father & Daughter’s Sharing Time. But whatever, RESPECT is showing rite there. Ese manatu o Father, ese lagona o Daughter, ae o o tatou manatu, e le o ala ia ole Ali’i. Ia ua tatau ona Matai le Daughter, aua a Matai fo’i lona toalua IA a sese SE MEA e fai, lalau fo’i Laia ole FAI AVA, LOL. IA ae sili le Matai ole Daughter ole teine ole laueleele. Thanks

    November 17, 2018 at 8:11 am
  • Imoasina Solomona-Tilo

    I feel you, Lani, my beloved late Dad, a Christian faifeau, raised me the same. If you ask anyone in American Samoa especially in my village of Leone & my enormous extended family … I am as individually-driven, staunch & confident a Samoan woman any feminist could be.

    But marrying for the first time @ 47 to a gentleman who holds true to “women submit to your husbands,” I am firm in my belief had my village of Leone allowed women Matais…. my male counterparts esp my hubby would be most supportive.

    Our Dads are different, a protective mechanism perhaps, to make sure no one hurts their little girls. Or the firm notion, your husband or mine, remains the titular head of the household. They, our desr fathers, know we’re capable but they just don’t want us “alone” doing it. I like going at it alone on the same token, help guide & lead others to accomplishing a lofty goal.

    You’ve been inspirational in keeping many of us “elder Samoan women” (I’ll be 57 next week,) young & motivated to help our people & improve our culture!!!

    E moni lava, e āu le inailau a tinā. Alofa atu & Lord bless.

    November 17, 2018 at 11:01 am
  • Eneleata Samau

    Ha ha I feel for you – can’t see any way you can win this…nonetheless it has its own unique sweetness both with the issue and the father/daughter/mentor relationship….sweet

    November 18, 2018 at 6:57 pm

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