Friday, February 06, 2009


Epeli Hau'ofa

A few days after posting about my obsession with the "vastness of Polynesia," I've stumbled across the writings of Epeli Hau'ofa, who died earlier this year. One blog explains the writer's unique background:

Ethnically Tongan, born in Papua New Guinea, educated in Australia, and a naturalized citizen of Fiji, Hau’ofa’s life exemplifies the vibrant, diverse, and connected image of Oceania he promoted throughout his life.

The blog contains a link to Hau'ofa's "seminal" essay, Our Sea of Oceans, which I've now read. Oddly enough, or maybe it isn't really so odd, I find that he has very clearly articulated the ideas I pounded out in my shoddy blog post concerning the lack of Hawaiian (or shall I say Oceanic) literature, and the importance of speaking up after having been conditioned into silence.

Hau'ofa challenges his people to embrace their history and to stop feeling that they must be dependent on the larger countries of the world for wealth and empowerment. In one paragraph, he recounts the world view that the ancients of Oceania had--the ones who navigated by the stars--and writes:

One legendary Oceanic athlete was so powerful that during a competition he threw his javelin with such force that it pierced the horizon and disappeared until that night, when it was seen streaking across the skyline like a meteor. Every now and then it reappears to remind people of the mighty deed. And as far as I'm concerned it is still out there, near Jupiter or somewhere.

I'm just a writer--a lazy kind of human being who sits and thinks and dreams up stuff. I am not doing something important like developing the economy of a so-called second or third world. But I do believe that literature and art matter. I'm hoping that Hau'ofa's students have ingested what he had to say, and are working their traditions into new art. Do it now, and stop letting everyone else tell your stories.

wonderful post, marie! i came and was looking at your fotos and then saw a comment from you! blog jinx! =D thanks for your kind comment!

i love the process and the journey. maybe i think if i talk about it, i may come to understand it? OR it may be my way of "controlling" the situation. haha! happy weekend! stay warm! xo
Cindy, it's always great to hear from you. I thought of you the other day when my cover art was finally decided and wanted so badly to share! Maybe I'll just email you the JPeg.

Happy weekend back to you!
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