Tatala le Ta’ui a le Atua presents a series of Bible studies rooted in the importance of being relational in the Samoan culture. It embraces the belief that the self takes its form from maintaining relationships. Tatala le Ta’ui a le Atua as a Samoan saying articulates the necessity to reconnect with one’s God, ancestors, neighbour/s and environment, to reveal a person’s genuine self-identity rooted in the relationship of respect, and concurrently, revealing the image of God in humans.
In this short article, project leader Mercy Ah Siu-Maliko briefly describes Tatala le Ta’ui a le Atua in Samoan culture and outlines the theology and method of the bible study series.
The word ta’ui has a specific use. It’s a word used to refer to the finest of fine mats that has long been pressed and reciprocally cared for within homes. This delicate fine mat is not rolled together with other ordinary rolls of mats or anything else. Although the same pandanus leaves are used to weave fine mats and mats used every day, still a mat cannot be called a treasure, unless it is the finest of fine mats. It is a fine mat treasured and protected. It is a fine mat that is not simply laid bare, sat on or for someone to trample on, but a fine mat people respect. It is not an ordinary fine mat, displayed using long sticks to hold it up because of its size. It is one fine mat that can be folded and put in an elderly woman’s woven basket or it can be simply held in an orator’s hand. Another view is that because the fine mat has been kept for long, it can become delicate, shiny, and eyecatching. This is the reason why when such fine mat is opened or rolled out, those who roll it out literally have goose bumps and say, “Oh it is the treasure of a noble.” This is the type of fine mat seldom rolled out except on special and significant occasions; then, such a treasure is rolled out in public.
The use of this Samoan saying in this project articulates the significant role of scripture as the finest fine mat rolled out to transform human relationships damaged by gender-based violence against women and violence in general.