THE PAPALAGI ARE POOR BECAUSE OF THEIR MANY THINGS
You can also recognize the Papalagi by his wish for making us wise and because he tells us that we are poor and wretched, and in need of his help and his pity, because we possess nothing.
Allow me to explain to you, dear brothers from the many islands, what that is a thing. A coconut is a thing, a flyswatter, a loincloth, the shell, the finger-ring, the food-bowl and the headdress, they are all things. But there are two different kinds of things. There are things made by the Great Spirit without us seeing it and we, the children of the earth, have no trouble obtaining them. Like for instance the coconut, the banana and the seashell. Then there are the things made by the people with much work and hardship, things like the rings for the fingers, fly-swatters and foodbowls. Now the alii think that we have a need for the things made by their hands, for they certainly don't mean the things provided for us by the Great Spirit. Because, who can be richer than us and who can possibly possess more things from the Great Spirit than exactly us? Throw your eyes around to the furthest horizon, where the wide blue expanse rests on the rim of the world. Everything is full of great things: the jungle with its wild pigeons, hummingbirds and parrots, the lagoons with their sea-cucumbers, shells and marine life, the sand with its shining face and smooth skin, the great water that can rage like a band of warriors or smile like a taopou and the wide blue dome that changes color every hour and carries large flowers that bless us with gold and silver light. Why be so foolish as to produce more things, now that we have so many outstanding things already, given us by the Great Spirit himself? Anyway, we will never be able to better his workings, because our spirit is weak and puny and the power of the Great Spirit is mighty, compared to his large and omnipotent hands, ours are small and weak. The things they can make are puny and not worth speaking about. We can make our arm longer with a stick and enlarge the hollow formed by our hands with a tanoa (1), but there hasn't been a single Samoan or Papalagi yet who succeeded in making a palmtree or a kavaplant.
Now those Papalagi think they can do a lot and that they are as strong as the Great Spirit. For that reason, thousands and thousands of hands do nothing but make things, from dawn to dusk. Manmade things, of which we know purpose nor beauty. And the Papalagi invent more and more things. Their hands burn, their faces turn to ashen and their backs are bent, but still they burst into happiness when they've succeeded in making a new thing. And all of a sudden, everybody wants to have such a new thing; they put it in front of them, adore it and sing its praise in their language.
Oh brothers, strengthen my beliefs, for I've looked straight through the Papalagi and seen his intentions as clear as if illuminated by the midday sun. Because he destroys all the things of the Great Spirit. Wherever he comes, he wants to bring to life again, on his own power, those things that he first killed and then wants to make himself believe he is the Great Spirit himself, because he produces so many things.
Brothers, try to imagine that at this very moment a storm would rise and strip away all the jungles and mountains, that from the lagoon also the shells and crayfish would be taken away and not even a hibiscus-flower would be left for our girls to wear in their hair, try to imagine that everything we see around us had suddenly disappeared, so that nothing would be left and the sand and the earth would have become like the palm of your hand or the hill over which the magma has flowed. Then we would have to mourn over the palmtree, over the shells and the jungle we would have to mourn over everything. Where all the huts of the Papalagi are gathered, all those huts that they call a town, there the land is as bald as the palm of your hand and that's one of the reasons that the Papalagi has gone soft in the head and plays being the Great Spirit in person, so as not to think of all the things they lost. Because they are so deprived and because their land has become so dreary they collect things like a fool collects dead leaves and fills his hut with them until all available space is occupied. That's why he envies us and hopes to make us as poor as he is himself.
It is a sign of great poverty, when somebody needs much, because that way he proves that he lacks the things of the Great Spirit. The Papalagi are poor because they pursue things like madmen. Without things they cannot live at all. When they've made themselves an object out of the backshield of a turtle, used to straighten their hair back, they make a skin for that tool, and for the skin they make a box, and for that box they make a bigger box. They pack everything away in skins and boxes. There are boxes for loincloths, for upper cloths and under cloths, for washing cloths, mouthcloths and all other kinds of cloths. Boxes for hand-skins and foot-skins, for the round metal and the heavy paper, for their food and their holy book, for everything you can imagine. When one thing would be enough, they make two. When you come inside a European cooking-hut, you see so many food-bowls and cooking-tools that it is impossible to use them all. And for every dish there is a different tanoa, there's a wooden bowl on three or four legs, used for the preparation of a native drink. one for the water and another one for the European kava, one for the coconuts and another one for the grapes.
There are so many things inside a European hut that, even if every man from a Samoan village would take out an armload, the people living in it would not be able to carry the remainder out. In every hut there are so many things that the white gentlemen employ many persons just for putting those things on the spot where they belong and to clean the sand off them. And even the highest born taopou uses a great deal of her time to count, rearrange and clean all her things.
You all know, brothers, that I speak the truth as I've seen it with my own eyes, without adding to my story nor holding back any. So believe me when I tell you that there are people in Europe that press a fire-stick to their foreheads and kill themselves, because they would rather not live at all than being forced to live without things. Because in every possible way the Papalagi confuse their minds and fool themselves into thinking that man cannot live without things, as he cannot live without food.
Also because of that, I've never been able to find a hut in Europe where I could rest on my mat properly, with nothing hindering my limbs when I wanted to stretch myself out. All those things throw flashes of light around or cry out loud with the voices of their colors, so that I couldn't close my eyes quietly. Never could I find the true repose there and never before was my longing for my Samoan hut so strong; the but where there is nothing but sleeping mat and bedroll and nothing disturbs us but the soft sea breeze.
The ones that only have few things, call themselves poor and unhappy. No Papalagi sings or goes through life with a twinkle in his eye, like we do, when his only possession is his foodbowl. When the men and women of the white man's world would reside in our huts, they would mourn and grieve and they would have wood fetched from the forest quickly and turtle-shells, glass, steel-wire and gaudy stones and much, much more. And they would move their hands from morning till night, until the Samoan hut would be filled with large and small objects that break easily and are destructible by fire and rain, so that replacements have to be made all the time.
The more things you need, the better a European you are. That's why the hands of the Papalagi are never still, they're always making things. That is the reason that the faces of the white people often look so tired and sad and that is also the reason why only a few of them can find the time to look at the things from the Great Spirit or play in the village-square, compose happy songs or dance in the light on a holiday and deprive pleasure from their healthy bodies, as is possible for all of us. (1)
(1) Very often, the Samoans come together to play and dance. They learn to dance at a very young age already. Every village has its songs and poets. In the evening you can hear singing inside every hut. The singing is melodious, mainly because the language is so rich in vowels, but also because of the delicate hearing faculties of the islanders.
They have to make things. They have to hold on to their things. The things latch themselves to them and crawl over them like an army of tiny sand-ants. They commit the most hideous crimes, in cold blood, only to get more things. They don't make war to satisfy their male pride, or to match their strength, but only to obtain things.
Still, they are all aware of the great waste their life is, otherwise there wouldn't be so many Papalagi of high standing that do nothing their whole life but dip hairs in colored juices and with them throw beautiful mirror-images on white mats. All the fine words of God they write down, as bright and colorful as they can. They also mold people from soft clay, without any loincloths; girls with free movements, delightful as the taopou of Matautu and images of men, brandishing clubs and spying on the wild pigeon in the forest. People made out of stone, for which the Papalagi build large festival-huts, where to people travel from large distances to enjoy their grace and beauty. They stand in front of them, wrapped tightly in their loincloths and shiver. I've seen Papalagi weep, when admiring the beauty they have lost themselves.
Now the white man wants to make us rich by bringing us his treasures, his things. But those things are like poison arrows that kill those in whose breasts they have lodged. I once overheard a man who knew our islands well, saying: "We must force new needs upon them". Needs are things! And that wise man spoke further: "Then they can be put to work easier also". He meant that we had to use the strength of our hands to make things, things for ourselves, but mainly things for the Papalagi. We must be made tired, bent down and grey too.
Brothers of the many islands, we must keep our eyes wide open, because the words of the Papalagi taste like sweet bananas, but they are full of hidden arrows that are out to kill all light and gladness inside of us. Let's never forget that, except for the things given us by the Great Spirit, we need only very little. He has given us eyes to see his things. You need more than a lifetime to see them all. And never did a greater lie pass the lips of a human being as when the white man said to us that the things from the Great Spirit have little value, but that the things they produce are very useful and valuable. Their own things, so numerous and glittering and shining, throw seductive glances our way and thrust themselves upon us, but they never made a Papalagi's body more beautiful, his eyes more shiny or his senses keener. That's another reason that their things have little value and the words they utter and force upon our awareness forcefully, are thoughts steeped in venom, the ejaculations of an evil spirit.
5. The Papalagi Are Poor Because Of Their Many Things