‘One Thousand Ropes’ actors plead for anti-violence stance from matai (Samoan chiefs)
By Alan Ah Mu
A plea to the heads of Samoan families or matai to take the lead against family violence has come from the lead actor in the well-received movie One Thousand Ropes.
Tuiasau Uelese Petaia, who plays the central character, Maea, urged matai to speak for “our sisters” against the big problem of domestic violence.
“Please, let there be a change,” said the actor, himself a matai.
“We depend too much on our fists to rule our families at the detriment of our wives, our daughters, our sons and our extended family,” he said of all men in a speech after the gala premiere of the movie in Wellington on Tuesday. His audience included the Head of State of Samoa Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi and dignitaries of the Samoan community in the capital.
“I stand here tonight to exalt all you men who have seen this movie: Go back, talk to your male friends, talk to your sons, talk to your brothers,” he said.
“It’s time for a change.
“It’s time that we moved on and live in harmony with our families and our loved ones.”
One Thousand Ropes tells the story of a man alienated from loved ones by his violence, whose daughter turns up in his flat with injuries from a beating by her boyfriend.
Tuiasau’s fellow actor in the movie, Beulah Koale in his speech to the audience, said men had no excuses to hurt women.
Saying that he spoke from the heart, Koale, praised his mother who has been to “hell and back.”
“She gave me life, she was the first to talk to me, nurture me, she cradled me and sang to me and talked to me at night,” said Koale.
“She’s my heart, she’s my source of strength, and she’s the one person in the world I can turn to when everything turns to shit.
“And I rely on her love for comfort. She’s strong, she’s brave, she’s been to hell and back.
“And after everything he’s put her through, she’s still the strongest person in my family.
“He tried to tear her down and make her look like the bad one, and still she refuses to hate him and always told us kids to forgive him and love him.
“Me and my partner have recently given birth to two beautiful boys, who are three months old now.”
Koale said watching his partner go through the whole process “made me realize how insignificant we men are.
“Yeah, we, you know, help make them but, you know, for the next nine months ….
“I was taught by men to be tough. I was told by the men in my family that men run the family. But when my partner needed me the most and I couldn’t think of anything to help her, I sat there helplessly while my partner created life. There was virtually nothing I could do except hold her hand and whisper words of encouragement when the doctors put her body through the wringer.
“I’m thankful for the women in my life because almost every male role model a boy is supposed to grow up and look up to in my life has failed. Every single one of them has taught me life lessons of what kind of man I should be and when it came to crunch time they crumbled under the pressure and they did everything they told me not to do. Every single one of them.
“I stood there in the darkness for a long time … thinking about all these good things that these men have taught me thinking, ‘Was it all just a bunch of crap? Will I fall into the same hole that these men fell in?’
“But the women in my life pulled me out of this hole. And they showed me … what true strength is, and what it means to be a man in this world. And that is a man who respects his family, respects the woman in his life, and the man with good intentions to help people and show them love and respect.
“So, I want to thank you women for being our strength. We men have no excuse to hurt you, yell at you and make you feel worthless. It is us men who are in debt to you.
“I ain’t perfect but my sons are going to grow up to be men who make a difference in this world by listening to the women who have influenced my life. So again, thank you to the women in this world. We appreciate it.”