Lotu Afiafi

Lotu Afiafi

Fei Taule’ale’ausumai

On the development of NZ Born Pacific Island spirituality 
by Fei Taule’ale’ausumai
from her book, The World Made Flesh
The daily family devotion, lotu afiafi, is practiced in most Samoan family homes in the early evening. This is seen by parents as a central part of passing on faith, the Great Commission starting in the home.

The value of lotu afiafi is complicated when children are not fluent in Samoan, when language is not a common element. The object of devotion can become a grammatical one where parents may focus carefully on the words of their children, rather than appreciate the purpose of their children’s prayer.

If both generations feel good about using family devotions to improve one’s gagna Samoa then this is good. But if the feelings are not mutual then the New Zealand born child may resent having to be there.

Keeping the focus on the purpose of prayer, an expression of personal faith, can open up new approaches to prayer and understandings of God. For example, both parents and children, if they see lotu afiafi as God’s time as well as family time, will learn to understand God as a multilingual God.

Already in Samoan homes where English is the predominant language some families are changing to give equal opportunity to their children to pray freely and uninhibited in the language of their choice.

Perhaps this will help them to relax the expectations which they place on their children, allowing both generations to move foreward into developing a more creative all-inclusive family devotion time, in which a new theology and spirituality can be developed and practiced.