Samoan ‘happy festival’ celebrates family, culture

Fiafia will showcase traditional dance, food, culture practices

LUKE HUDSON, Evergreen columnist

The Mitamitaga O Samoa club will be hosting its 6th annual Fiafia Festival celebrating Samoan culture. Eric Ah Fua, chair of the event, said the festival is dedicated to moms and will feature performances, games, prizes and authentic Samoan food prepared by the club.

In addition to watching the dance performances, the audience will also have a chance to get involved and learn a traditional dance themselves.

“In translation, fiafia means ‘happy,’ ” Ah Fua said.  “So together, ‘Fiafia Festival’ means ‘happy festival.’ It’s about sharing the Samoan culture with the Pullman community and student population.”

Roanna Zackhras, treasurer of Mitamitaga O Samoa, said family is a cornerstone of Samoan culture. The event occurs during Mom’s Weekend as a celebration of family and a chance to connect with a larger Asian-Pacific Islander community.

“The motherly figure is really important in Samoan culture,” Zackhras said. “Some people say that the dad is the head [of the family], but the mom is the neck.”

Beyond family, there are larger goals to this event and others that Mitimitaga O Samoa hosts. President LenNora Puasa said the Fiafia Festival and other events are about inspiring their family back home to pursue higher education at universities like WSU.

“One huge outcome that we hope to have from the event is to unite the community and have that family-away-from-home type of feeling,” Puasa said. “Family, unity and supporting each other is huge in our culture so we want to bring that aspect to the community.”

By showcasing traditional dance, food and cultural practices, the club hopes to show that Samoans are more than just the athletes that they say most people know them for. In this way, they said, they hope to show that they are students before athletes and celebrate their community’s diverse achievements.

“This is a chance for us to show WSU that this community exists,” Zackhras said. “To put on a big event that shows diversity and celebrate the community.”

The event takes place from 7-10 p.m. on Friday at the SEL Event Center. Tickets cost $12.