A period of skirmishes began between the officials of the three powers in the islands. The last straw came when the neutral zone of Apia, with a tripartite municipality, was de facto abrogated by the Germans.
Tamasese was installed in the historical village of Mulinuu, once the site of the king but now in the hands of the German firm. Moreover, as the king lived in a German estate, the Germans would be able to hoist their flag above the royal one. The resistance to a king the Samoans did not recognise as such was organised around the other pretender, supported by most of the indigenous population. In the meantime non-aligned villages were attacked and burnt, German warships shelled villages from the sea, weapons were provided to the rebels by the Anglo-American forces and martial law was proclaimed by the Germans.
No native would then have ever dreamed of defying these colossal ships, worked by mysterious powers, and laden with outlandish instruments of death. None would have dreamed of resisting those strange but quite unrealised Great Powers, understood with difficulty to be larger than Tonga and Samoa put together, and known to be prolific of prints, knives, hard biscuit, picture books, and other luxuries, as well as of overbearing men and inconsistent orders.
In the end, the agreement that men were not able to achieve was sealed by nature. On March 16 th a hurricane approached the coasts of Samoa and the super-technological Western forces seemed not to notice that the barometer was falling menacingly. The Apia harbour was small, surrounded by coral reefs and overcrowded with gigantic vessels that could hardly manoeuvre when the sea was flat.
It was a storm in a teacup, but its result was fatal. Of the seven ships only one succeeded in sailing out of the port, the British Calliope. The Eber was the first to sink. Only four of its crewmen survived. The Adler was stuck on the coral reef, and many of its crew members could be saved. The Nipsic was beached and the Olga collided with the Trenton before being beached itself. During the storm many Samoans participated in the rescue operations, careless of bringing help to friends or foes.
This episode is narrated with great irony by Stevenson, as if it stood as a symbol of the vanity of all human ambitions, which can be wiped away by nature with a single wingbeat. As noticed by Colley,. The arrangement was to make the government less dependent on agreement among local representatives of the three foreign Powers by strengthening the judiciary, reorganising public finances, re-establishing the municipality of Apia, ensuring the maintenance of peace among the Samoans, and offering the Samoan government responsible and reliable European advisers He was never officially king because of the German veto but, in fact, he ruled the country together with Laupepa from then on, and was considered the true sovereign by Samoans.
First of all, in dealing with an indigenous culture he challenges the juxtaposition between ethnography and history. The practice of ethnographic fieldwork privileges the synchronous, formulating social generalisations from evidence gathered in specific cross-cultural encounters which necessarily marginalise the impact of historical change It also prefigures the possibility of change and resistance in Pacific islands. He carries out his historical research by cross-examining different sources — written and oral — so that he can also record the voices of those who were not allowed to express their views formally or write their own histories, unlike the westerners who could easily avail themselves of reports, military despatches, letters and various written documents Stevenson, too, valorises indirect or spontaneous testimony.
On that matter, the Samoan language is particularly revealing.
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Furthermore, Stevenson demonstrates that in Samoa the notion of private property is quite elusive. Within the extended family or clan everything must be shared. Sign In or Create an Account. Sign In. Advanced Search. Article Navigation. Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume Oxford Academic. Google Scholar.
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Cite Citation. Permissions Icon Permissions. Abstract This paper considers two related early twentieth-century French reactions to Blake's poetry and prose, specifically to The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Issue Section:. You do not currently have access to this article.
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