|Young, Dutch and proud to be Samoan -
SamoaObserver - Savea Sano Malifa - 04-07-2008.
“When my grandma told us stories about Samoa, I was always fascinated by them,” he says. “Samoa was this small island that just became special to me.”
Young Maurice van Vliet is Dutch, confident, out-going, and uniquely Samoan.
He has a full-blooded Samoan grandmother and an undeniably Samoan tattoo on his right shoulder to prove it.
What’s more, he has a website called www.wsamoa.ws designed to canvass everything – and anything – Samoan he could find and share them with the world.
That’s how proud of his Samoan roots this young chap is.
Two weeks ago Maurice, 25, and his 80-year-old grandmother Paese Susuga arrived in Apia, from Holland.
Originally from Lufilufi, Paese Susuga has been living in the Dutch city of Wageningen with Maurice’s family for several years.
It’s one of those love stories you think are found only in movies.
Some 55 years ago, a Dutch steamer arrived in Apia Harbour and a bunch of eager, sea-weary seaman strolled ashore.
One of them was named Friedo van Vliet, 30. He was soon to find that fate was aiming to change his life forever.
It happened instantly and irresistibly. When he and Pesega Susuga – she was 25 at the time - met somewhere in Apia, somehow sparks flew and the world stopped as their fate was inexorably sealed.
According to Maurice, his smitten grandfather Frieda abandoned ship, said goodbye to his mates, and he and Pesega later married in Samoa. They remained here for some years and had a son they named John. When John was six, the family moved to Holland.
John van Vliet grew up and married Caroline Schilder. They have three children – Jeanna, 28, Maurice, and Tim, 18.
When grandfather Friedo passed away, his wife Pesega remained in Holland. She has been back to Samoa since a couple of times.
Maurice admits he does not know much about grandfather Friedo since he passed away when he was only two. So it was his grandmother who fed his young, inquisitive mind with stories about Samoa.
“When my grandma told us stories about Samoa, I was always fascinated by them,” he says.
“Samoa was this small island that just became special to me.”
But other than his grandmother, he had not met another Samoan until he went on a trip to Germany when he was about ten.
“That was when I first saw other Samoans,” he explains. “They were standing by a Samoan display at a cultural festival there. From then on I wanted to come to Samoa.”
When Maurice finally came to Samoa for the first time in 1996, he loved the place immediately especially its friendly people, he says. It was during that time that he had his tattoo done on his shoulder “to remind me of Samoa.”
He says when he pulled up his sleeve to show off his tattoo to his friends, he enjoyed telling them he was Samoan.
This time when his grandmother wanted to come back for a visit, he volunteered to accompany her over.
“She needs a wheelchair to get in and out of the plane,” he explains. “That’s where I can help.”
Besides, as a student doing his last year of a Pre-masters course in agricultural business and management at Laranstein University, he is using his four weeks in Samoa to conduct research into “private label in the Pacific” for his thesis.
While in Apia, Maurice has met with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. They discussed current issues of importance which he is planning to put on his website.
For instance, he says that on the RHD debate, Tuilaepa did not elaborate. Instead, he said he was aware about other people’s expressed views on the matter and that was their right.
“I have my own opinion about it too,” the PM reportedly said.
On Manu Samoa, Tuilaepa is said to have asked the public to be patient, and give management a chance.
“It’s a new team so they need to play more games to prepare themselves,” Tuilaepa reportedly advised. “The coach too is new so he needs everyone’s support.”
On Samoa’s investment climate for international business, Tuilaepa is said to have reminded that Samoa was a friendly country with potential opportunities that could be exploited.
As for internet business potential in Samoa, Maurice was told that a fiber cable being laid between Samoa and Hawaii would begin operating next year.
“This will make internet communication faster and cheaper,” he was advised.
Two years ago Maurice founded his website www.wsamoa.ws and since then it has become “very popular,” he says.
“I am very proud of it. It is very popular. It gets about 2,500 hits a day with people debating and discussing issues in it.”
Maurice is asking Samoan organizations and churches to send him any information and press releases he can pout on the website.
He and his grandmother are returning to Holland on 1 July.