Literary Festival at the National University of Samoa

A regional literary festival with an all-sensory appeal will provide a high note for the end of the year at the National University of Samoa (NUS).

Drama, poetry, films, book launches, academic presentations, wearable art exhibitions, performing arts, discussion and debate will provide a variety of work which some of the NUS lecturers have labeled ‘a conference with an attitude’.

“We hope that our festival will provide a feast of creativity and that everyone will enjoy the event,” said the Chair of the Organising Committee, Associate Professor Silafau Dr Sina Va’ai.

The event from Tuesday 27 through to Friday 30 November is based on the theme, ‘Pacific Literature and the Blue Continent: Dreams and Realities’.

It looks at challenges relating to survival, empowerment, climate change, globalization and sustainability amidst a post-colonial context of rapid change by way of presentations,

“The basic purpose is to promote South Pacific Literatures and Languages and to do that through a celebration of the writer, texts, and performances,” said Silafau.

“The South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (SPACLALS) conferences are held every 3 years but this is a special NUS branch event which we have labelled a festival given the celebratory nature of this year.”

This year there has been a strong emphasis on including the work of the young.

“There are performances from schools who have won the drama inter-secondary Rotaract competition to celebrate the 50 years of Samoa’s independence.

“We have confirmed that St Mary’s College the 1st prize winners, and Fa’atuatua College the runner up will be performing on Wednesday 28th November. We also have a ‘Young Writers’ panel of eight young gifted people who will be talking about their creative endeavours and sharing some of their work with us.

The use of technology in publishing will also be discussed and explained, said Silafau.

“Author, Lani Wendt-Young will be sharing her expertise on e-book production as a way into the global market for all our writers in the Pacific. We also will showcase a wearable art fashion show from NUS students and a performance from Fiona Collins and other artists on the theme ‘let me hear your whisper’ and a dramatisation of the keynote speakers, Professor Konai Helu Thaman’s, famous piece ‘You the choice of my parents’.

We have invited secondary schools to send representatives of their senior classes and their teachers to hear Professor Konai Thaman’s keynote address on Wednesday 28th November since she is the UNESCO Professor of Education at USP.

Other highlights include a delegation from the University of Auckland and other Aucklanders such as Dr. Selina Tusitala – Marsh and Darren Kamali who are high-profile Pacific island poets in Aotearoa. There is also a poetry reading which is open to all at the STA fale on Wednesday evening.

Silafau said literary festivals such as this are extremely important.

“There is great concern about literacy in the contemporary Pacific. In fact there is a conference for Pacific teachers of English in the first week of December this year at USP in Suva to discuss these very issues. We hope this festival helps to promote solutions by encouraging the love of reading and learning in both the written and spoken forms”

For those attending the festival, there are many benefits, she said.

“People get to celebrate creativity and discuss the relevance of literary texts and their representations of the societies of the Pacific.

This then addresses many social and economic issues pertinent to the Blue Continent or Oceania with a particular focus on our own communities in Samoa.”

The presentations will be published in the international publication of SPACLALS, namely the SPAN Journal in mid 2013.

The NZ High Commissioner, His Excellency Nick Hurley, will be opening the festival on Wednesday morning at 9am as an important gesture towards the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship and being one of the major sponsors of the festival.

Also the Chinese Embassy, UN Women, the Samoa Observer and Newspapers in Education (NIE), the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA), the Prime Minister’s Department, Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC), Le Vai, SSAB, and NUS have shown great support of this event.


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