Tusitala Fa’asalalauga Tusia: Fa’amoemoeina o le Tusitusiga o Tusi Tusitala i Samoa
Tusi Tusitala, which means “writer of tales” in Samoan, is the pen name of Robert Louis Stevenson. Stevenson was a Scottish writer who is best known for his classic novels such as “Treasure Island” and “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” However, what many people may not know is that Stevenson also had a deep connection with Samoa and spent the last years of his life there.
In this essay, we will explore the significance of Stevenson’s writing in Samoa and how it has impacted the literary landscape of the country. We will also delve into the cultural importance of storytelling in Samoan society and how Stevenson’s work aligns with this tradition.
To understand the impact of Stevenson’s writing in Samoa, it is crucial to examine his connection with the country. In 1889, Stevenson set sail from Scotland seeking a warmer climate due to his deteriorating health. He arrived in Samoa and immediately fell in love with the islands and its people. Stevenson decided to make Samoa his home and built a house called Vailima on a hill overlooking Apia, the capital city.
During his time in Samoa, Stevenson became deeply involved in local affairs and developed close relationships with the Samoan people. He was given the honorific title Tusitala Fa’asalalauga Tusia, which translates to “the teller of tales who writes.” This title not only recognized his talent as a writer but also highlighted his commitment to preserving Samoan culture through storytelling.
Stevenson’s writing in Samoa was not limited to his famous novels. He also wrote numerous essays and letters that shed light on Samoan customs, traditions, and political issues. One of his most significant works during this period is the book “A Footnote to History: Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa,” which detailed the political turmoil that Samoa faced during the late 19th century.
Stevenson’s writing had a profound impact on Samoan literature and storytelling. Prior to his arrival, Samoan literature was primarily oral, with stories and legends passed down through generations. However, Stevenson’s presence in Samoa sparked a renewed interest in written literature among the Samoan people.
Inspired by Stevenson’s work, Samoan writers began to embrace the written word as a medium for storytelling. They started incorporating elements of Stevenson’s style into their own works, blending traditional Samoan storytelling techniques with Western literary techniques. This fusion of styles resulted in a unique form of Samoan literature that continues to thrive today.
Furthermore, Stevenson’s writing also played a crucial role in preserving Samoan culture. Through his essays and letters, he documented aspects of Samoan life that were at risk of being lost due to colonization and modernization. His writings served as a valuable resource for future generations to learn about their cultural heritage and identity.
In addition to his contributions to Samoan literature, Stevenson’s presence in Samoa also had a lasting impact on the country’s tourism industry. Today, Vailima, the house he built in Samoa, has been transformed into a museum dedicated to his life and works. Visitors from around the world come to experience the beauty of Samoa and learn about Stevenson’s connection to the country.
In conclusion, Robert Louis Stevenson’s time in Samoa had a profound impact on the literary landscape of the country. His writing not only inspired a new generation of Samoan writers but also played a crucial role in preserving Samoan culture. Stevenson’s legacy as Tusitala Fa’asalalauga Tusia continues to live on in Samoa, reminding us of the power of storytelling and its ability to bridge cultures and preserve traditions.