I have such fond memories of growing up in Upolu and Savaii. One of my fondest memories is playing i ga ve’a as a young girl. Those days we didn’t have TVs or stereos or any of the other toys that young people take for granted nowadays. We didn’t even have round-the-clock electricity. Our village had a generator that powered all of the houses in the village which was turned on only at night, and then only for a few hours. If I remember correctly it was always shut off by 9p.m.
In the evenings after family meals the parents would normally gather in the malae to sit and talk and drink koko samoa. It was around this time that we would start to play i ga ve’a. The best part of i ga ve’a is that it seemed as if everyone played (except the parents of course). So kids, older teens, young adults – everyone got into it. Of course, ai lava ga iai isi vaega sa e ese lava lakou i ga ve’a sa fai, but I wouldn’t know. I was only a kid then, 10 or around there.
I remember being scared out of my head – with the lights out the village was pitch black and my imagination was running wild imagining all kinds of aiku getting ready to grab me. There were so many hiding spots to choose from, the ko ga fa’i, the pa povi, the faleuila (yes, we only had outhouses in those days too). It was awesome. I remember one particular night someone actually stumbled across a man who had been “lost” for a couple of years. One of our group had gone into a family’s faleuila to hide, imagine his surprise when he opened the door and found a man sitting there. Apparently this man was taken by aiku two years earlier. We guessed that he probably comes down at night sometimes to forage for food etc. Upon further investigation the next day, it was discovered that he was originally from a distant village and he was delivered there the next day.
I haven’t thought about i ga ve’a for a long time but when we were visiting my college son he told us that they play i ga ve’a at least twice a week. Now you have to understand that my son’s school is out in the boonies, there is nothing there (which was all part of my grand plan). There are about 7 Samoans and about the same number of Tongans in that school and apparently one of them knew about i ga ve’a and got all the others to play. Listening to him talk about how much fun they have I am reminded of this favorite playtime from a lifetime ago and I’m glad that a new generation has rediscovered the magic of i ga ve’a.