E tā muamua lou gutu; a e le’i tā lou malu
The culture I’m rooted in is effortlessly feminist. I was brought up believing that there was nothing I couldn’t do… as a young Samoan woman. For, both men and women can become matai or chiefs, and are also privileged to endure the bite of the ‘au. You may be wondering, why was I so eager to feel such bite? The obvious answer is, (like every Samoan) – I am well aware of my bloodlines and felt it was my birthright *tbh* , but no. Perhaps it was due to my five years at the United States Air Force Academy (worst five years of my life). I owe it to the values of my culture engrained so deeply in me that has empowered and enabled me to succeed afar from the shores of My Samoa.
Well, I’ve always thought of getting a malu; however, it wasn’t till recently that I actually wanted one. As a Samoan, I always felt that my culture valued me as a woman. I have seen women in my family wear a malu with much pride and responsibility. I was always challenged with the saying, “a koa lou loko, ia alu e ka lou malu” (if you’ve got the guts, go ahead and get your malu). I’m not one to turn down a challenge, so I’ve kept that with me since it has been said. Yet, I wasn’t sure what kind of challenge would I need to overcome to qualify?
In high school, I started to notice girls around me were getting a malu, and I’ve always wondered, what did they have to do to get it? I personally thought that they had showed an act of courage for their families to bless them with such mark of cultural significance. I mean, to be honest – it is no joke and it is definitely not for show.
I am now twenty-sumthin’ years old and I have undergone so much in my life as a young educated Samoan woman. I was raised with my parents of such high expectations in excelling and being the best-est in anything I took part in, particularly in academics. I just want to say that my achievements were not my own, but my entire family’s. For the pride we carry is with each other, to show as a reflection of something much bigger than ourselves. And that’s why I got my Malu.
A malu to me is a fiery symbol of a guardian, which makes total sense why women have it – we, indeed, are the guardians of our families, our communities, and ourselves.
E au le Inailau a Tama’ita’i
E ola ‘aiga o Teine
Ae kaea kama