I’m currently working on researching and completing our next picture book offering and the first for the year in our ‘Tala Faasolopito’ series or Samoan Historical stories series with the working title of: ‘The tragedy of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Samoa’.
In researching and reading articles around this historic but tragic event, it brought tears in realizing the devastation of this event some 100 years ago on the small island of Western Samoa (as it was known at the time) in that Western Samoa had the highest mortality (death) rate in the world than any country but American Samoa had such no deaths during that same period of time due to the quarantine that was put in place by it’s administrator.
What’s more discouraging was that in reading research reports and academic/medical writings, little is really known publicly of the actual extent of the tragedy that was recorded in history books for us, as Samoans to know i.e. the starvation that occurred for some Samoans in not having easy access to food supplies, the mass graves that were dug that would have buried so many away from their village abodes, the extent to which many factors of the illness and quarantine factors which could have abated so many deaths that is a quarter of the population in Western Samoa dying in the manner of 6 – 8 weeks of the disease in November and December of 1918.
So for me, as a writer, in knowing that my great grandfather had died in this event with many unnamed victims who suffered greatly through this time, it allows me to have empathy and to acknowledge those who died as we will never know the true extent of those who survived this devastating time or have knowledge of their stories.
I hope that this series will assist our next generation young Samoans to learn of and understand the historical events that occurred in our history but also to know how such events shaped future events to come. As this shaped the thinking of the ‘Mau’ (resistance) movement in working towards an independent nation with Samoa being the first in the Pacific, in 1962, to move away from colonial rule that had devastating consequences in its history. Lest we forget…