Faculty of business and Entrepreneurship lecturer, Fesolaí Aleni Sofara says that men have an important part to play in advocating for the rights of the Nofotane.
This was during his presentation entitled, "THE LAW OF BEING AN IN-LAW.”
Mr. Sofara's presentation coincides with the commemoration of International Women's day, on the 8th of March 2018. He said that to date, there is no English word that could define the word "nofotane" which is the term given to women married in to other families.
Fesola’i challenged many of the stigmas and stereotypes attached to being a nofotane. "Nofotane are Women who are new in a family or a village and their role is to serve the men's families. She belongs in the kitchen,” he said.
“The Samoan saying is ia mu mata ile afi, or that the nofotane’s main responsibility is the kitchen facing the open fire,” he said.
Fesola’i said, that while Nofotane is an individual choice, it is a choice that is looked down upon by many.
“Once you made this choice to get married and move to the man’s family there is only one word to describe you. The Nofotane," he said.
He strongly disagrees that the nofotane is being valued less than women of the families of their husbands, and that they have no voice in decision making, as suggested by the United Nations.
Fesola’i says that many families are wealthy because of the work of the nofotane. He says in his own experience, after interviewing five nofotane women in his family, he found them to be more trustworthy than his own family members.
Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Lafaitele Fualuga Taupi agreed with Fesolaí saying that Nofotane are not slaves, and that behind a great man is a greater woman.
Head of Department for the Samoan Language and Culture Seiuli Vaifou Temese commented that the word "tamaítaí," is translated as the daughter which all the fine things in her family is presented to.
The problem lies when she is relocated to her husband's family, where she cannot expect to take those fine things, and enjoy the same privileges as that of her husband's sisters.
Yet she believes that the Nofotane understands the family better, and patience is the key to her being blessed with something more special.
Fesola’i Toleafoa ‘Ape Aleni Sofara is a lecturer in Commercial law at the Faculty of Business and Entrepreneurship at the National University of Samoa.
His article, Tui’umi: The assassin has recently been published in the Journal of Samoan Studies, Vol 7, (3), 87-93.