In 2009 I emigrated to post-Tsunami Samoa.
If you ask me why I did this, I will agree with you that this is indeed a good question. It’s one that I asked myself too, many times over many years. It actually has an answer to do with faith and obedience, but the point here is that I suddenly found myself in a foreign world.
Sure, I was in a foreign country and a foreign culture – although my children were both half Maori and I was an experienced businessman ‘wise to the world’ – but the extent that dishonesty was prevalent up there shocked me.
This aversion to basic honesty was a cultural norm and I was a target from day one, due to the colour of my skin and the widespread perception that I was there to rip them all off. It seemed that the worst of human nature manifested as day after day, year after year those around me connived, tricked and lied to ‘get’ from me.
One of these experiences was with a local businessman Savea Sano Malifa, the owner of the local rag, Samoa Observer. He was known by the locals as a crook who never paid his bills. I entered into a contract with him to write a series of articles under the brand name “Palagi Perspectives”. He bought a fight with me then lied and refused to pay the account – which I have now found to be common practice from this dude, then I did a blog post showing his logical failure and talking about his stupidity in doing what he did to a truth-speaking blogger like me.
It hurt him financially and personally – shame is a serious force in the Samoan culture and when I sued him for the money owing, he escalated the matter out of all proportion counterclaiming for 2 million tala. My book ‘The 2 Million Tala Palagi’ put the evidence out there in the public domain before the court hearing. It was damning.
In the process I showed clear evidence of how his lawyer knew that she was lying on his behalf to the court. In 2020, she is now a Samoan judge. Go figure – but this is Samoa!
Speaking the truth in a time, place or culture that places a higher value on something else (like public perception, power or profit) can be a serious matter.
Select your fights carefully so that you never lose & minimise your losses. I love exposing crooked lawyers because they have a position of responsibility in society. I had ample opportunity to do this in Samoa.
Agreed (that is if “top quality” means personal integrity!), but actually, we all do!