Brian Fiu Kolia
Brian Fiu Kolia is a second-generation Australian-born Samoan. He hails from the Samoan villages of Sili, Satapuala, Faleaseela and Tufutafoe. He is an ordained minister of the Congregational Christian Church Samoa, and a lecturer in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Malua Theological College, while also serving as an adjunct lecturer at Trinity Theological College, Melbourne Australia. He holds a PhD from the University of Divinity, in Melbourne, Australia. His research interests are in diasporic theory, critical race theory, decolonial theory, Hebrew Bible, biblical hermeneutics, and cultural & indigenous/native knowledge. He is a husband to Tanaria and a father to Elichai.
Brian Fiu Kolia, “Auē le Mea Uli! Racism crossing the Moana?”
The words of the title are from the first verse of a popular Samoan song titled “Tinga” which translated reads: “Oh, the black thing!” The word uli means ‘black’ while the word mea means ‘thing.’ The word meauli is the common term to refer to black people and is used in everyday language. Yet it is obvious here that the term is dehumanizing, and therefore racist towards black people.
In this presentation, I wish to present a talanoa (conversation) around this concept as one of the many colonial and racist legacies of our past, and the role the church played in instigating such discriminatory and racist perceptions and claims of superiority. In particular I wish to explore the role of Samoan missionaries to Melanesian countries such as Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, and how the racist colonial project had been perpetuated.
It is also essential that in this presentation, and I do so with great respect, to offer a biblical ifoga (a Samoan practice of seeking forgiveness and reconciliation) to our Melanesian kin and black folk, through a Samoan reading of Song of Songs 1:5. The hope is that this reading may offer a way of dealing with the issue of racism in the modern context for the liberation of Melanesian and black peoples.
Further, I seek to draw implications from this reading to interrogate, reimagine and (re)embrace LTBH, and propose a new theology to dismantle the racist precepts of our colonial past, and to see how a word such as meauli seeks to dehumanize, degrade, and destroy celebrated cultures of peoples.