Albert Wendt, interview with Ms Jody Fotu Jackson-Becerra

How fast is the evolution of the Samoan Culture? Where do you think it is going? and Is it bad or good? (question from Herman Walter Arp).

Albert Wendt:

This is a very difficult question.

It’s a very large question about a whole culture and its history and how it is changing. My novels especially try to answer it. My novels embody how I see the history and culture of Samoa over the years, from its origins to now. I didn’t intend them to be that way. In my search to understand myself using my writing, I wrote the novels and so forth. And the Wendt fictional world I’ve created embody my beliefs, preferences, philosophies, prejudices, attitude, and so forth. And many people don’t like my fictional world, my version of Samoa and so forth. I don’t mind that at all. We all have our versions of ourselves and our ways of life, and those as I’ve said depend of who and what we are. And in basic ways, cultures change according to their own laws and not to how we want and expect them to change and be!

When you want me to make a moral judgement of those changes by asking ‘is it bad or good’? I’ve given the answer in my writing over the years. Because of my own moral vision and preferences, I see some of the changes as being beneficial and others as being ‘bad’ or detrimental. Others see it differently. And so it always will be.

In my old age, so to speak lightly, I’m more forgiving and tolerant. As you know, from my books I was and still am angry about colonialism and all its manifestations, and about political corruption and racism, and exploitation of the weak by the powerful, and other things.

Despite all my griping and complaints and attacks on many aspects of our society and way of life, I have to admit that I’ve had a very very privileged life compared to most people!



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