For the love of Samoa: siva and service

Photo Credit: 
Antonio Agosto
Mom at the INKED Island Fashion Show, Aloha Tower 2011.

(HONOLULU)--“E leai se gaumata’u, na o le gaualofa.” In English: What you do in the name of hatred will not survive. What you do in the name of love will live forever.

This is the thinking behind servant writing, a brand of writing inspired by my mother Lorita “Lika” Matalena Fuamanuao Achica. Some people may call what I do work – but I don’t get regular pay so I will have to say, servant writing is all love. That’s what my mom teaches us – love. My mom is my inspiration for so many things—and I know, an inspiration to so many others. I love writing about her. As we catch up here in the hospital room with visiting family and friends, we thought we should express our thanks for your prayers, love and support with a story.

My mother, known to many as "Lika" and “Aunty Lika” is fighting for her life here at Pali Momi hospital. For those of you know know my mom, she is a fighter. My mom was born January 27, 1947 in (then) Western Samoa. A naturalized U.S. Citizen, she is the daughter of Fuamanuao Achica of Utulei, Amerika Samoa and Selesitina Fa’ala’a Fe’esago of Vaimoso and Alamagoto. Selesitina, interred in La'ie, was a member of the Mau, Samoa’s non-violent movement for independence.

My mom is a Siva Samoa instructor, fashion designer and costume maker. I’ve always been enamored with her style, strength, beauty and grace. Her favorite thing to do is share her love and passion for Samoa, through the siva and everything the siva entails. Siva is her heart. She never wastes an opportunity to share her talent. She never wastes an opportunity to teach it to our youth. Where ever my mom goes, she takes her siva.

She’s probably the most in-your-face, straight forward woman you have ever had the chance to meet. Dance is just one of her many God-given talents, her style of siva learned from my grandmother and passed on from generation to generation to generation. She amazed me as a child and pretty much amazes me every day of my life, especially when she’s dancing. She is a crafty woman, maker of clothes, tuiga, pale, all kinds of things. She’s a talented florist and gardener but if you ask my mom what she is most proud of – she will say her family, ‘aiga, not just her children, grandchildren or siblings, but her huge extended family all across the globe. Family is my mom’s most prized possession. Her family is everything.

My mom, a proud servant of God, calls herself the Samoan Kumu. She uses the word Kumu because of her extensive work for nearly 40 years among the Samoan community in Hawai’i. She chooses to use the word “Kumu” because of her location and the manner in which she perpetuates the siva – through community dance group teaching, family requests and individualized taupou training. She also loves performing hula, Tahitian and Tongan dance.

With her life, my mom teaches us that service needs no physical dwelling. The best thing about it is that you can serve from where ever you are in society – with whatever is at your disposal. It doesn't matter where you are in the chain of command. It doesn't matter what’s in your bank account. It doesn't matter what you wear. It doesn't matter what people think of you. No matter what your place is in the world – whether you have no credit, bad credit, no job or even a house – you can still serve. All you need is heart and the will to serve.