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This TikToker Went Viral For Sharing Sāmoan Mythology, And I Wish More People Knew About This Stuff

"The Teine Sā are a group of aitu or spirits who guard the villages of Sāmoa. They curse and possess those who offend them."

Meet Kegisa Peata, a 26-year-old Sāmoan woman living in Washington State. She has amassed over 470k followers on TikTok through sharing her culture and touching on Sāmoan stories that have been passed down through generations.

One of the legends Kegisa often touches on is that of the Teine Sā. In Sāmoan, the word "teine" means girl, and the word "sā" means sacred or something set apart. The stories of the Teine Sā are well-known among Sāmoans and are often told to teach people how to behave properly in the context of their culture.

Screenshot from Kegisa Peata's TikTok

To learn more about Sāmoan folklore, BuzzFeed recently spoke to Kegisa. "According to Sāmoan legend, the Teine Sā are a group of aitu or spirits who guard the villages of Sāmoa as well as the surrounding nature," she said. "They curse and possess those who offend them and the taboos for mistreating their land. For example, looking in the mirror at night or wearing your hair out is said to attract their attention."

"They do not like when you gaze on your reflection or admire your physical appearance, and consequences range from unknown illnesses to possession or, in worst cases, death. Covering mirrors was a way to avoid their vengeful wrath."

Screenshot from Kegisa Peata's TikTok

As Kegisa noted, the Teine Sā were often concerned with ensuring people were respecting the fa'asamoa (Sāmoan) way. The stories of Teine Sā are often passed down by elders to young ones as a way of teaching fa’asamoa and warning them of consequences.

Screenshot from Kegisa Peata's TikTok

"There are moments where I felt like my parents were telling me superstitious stories as a scare tactic, a way for me to behave as a child and act prim/proper (i.e. putting my hair up, avoiding wearing flowers in my hair, not laughing too loud, etc.), but I would never dare test them."

Screenshot from Kegisa Peata's TikTok

As with all legends, there's always doubt about their legitimacy. But they are still respected as they enforce traditional cultural ideals and values, and they're part of our storytelling.

Strong, powerful women are a common concept in Sāmoan legends and folklore — they can be seen again in the story of Nafanua: a Sāmoan warrior who is well-known for her strength and wisdom. Kegisa also refers to Nafanua on TikTok, where she emphasizes the fact that Nafanua is a woman.

Screenshot from Kegisa Peata's TikTok

“Nafanua is one of Sāmoa’s most esteemed warriors. There was a battle during her time between the east and west regions of Savai’i over land (land is related to status in Sāmoa; the more you had, the more powerful you were). Legend says Nafanua rose from the underworld Pulotu after hearing the cry for help from the people of the western region of Savai’i. She led an army into war to free them from the cruel enslavement of Lilomaiava — High Chief of the eastern region of Savai’i — and was victorious.”

A rendering of Nafanua

Many people know of Nafanua’s great battle, but she also had a hand in delegating responsibilities to people and is said to have given Sāmoa the governing structure that is still in place today.

A rendering of Nafanua

Despite Kegisa living so far away from her motherland, the stories of the Teine Sā and Nafanua continue to influence her today, and she enjoys sharing them on her platform to educate others.

“I grew up away from Sāmoa surrounded by a different community with a different language, but my parents have built into my childhood learning the understanding of our culture performance and the value in our fa’asamoa system. I am the proud Sāmoan I am today because of them."

“Being a Sāmoan living in the diaspora, I am proud of my roots and stand strong in my cultural identity. I find myself constantly looking for ways to incorporate my culture into everything that I do, and that has always been my intention behind my traditional content. I want the world to see and know that our breed of people in the Pacific exist.”

To learn more about Sāmoan stories and culture, check Kegisa out on Tiktok!

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