The people of the Kingdom of Tonga can be very stubborn when they choose to be, or be deeply committed to a cause depending which way you prefer to take it.
Pride runs deep, and differing situations bring forth different identities for pride, but the common bond for Tongans are the actions of the 1st King of Tonga. At Pouono, Vava’u, the King’s enlightment was declared in his dedication of all of Tonga to God’s ownership and protection.
The essence of the dedication is that all humanity (at least in Tonga) are beholden to God and under his sufference/law. Under God, all people are created equal, and are equally responsible to God under law.
As in other feudal societies that eventually rose up to overthrow the ruling hierarchy, the commoners/peasants were treated as no better than common cattle, animals. Unlike other feudal societies, Tupou 1 chose to enact changes within his own authority.
It can’t be underestimated what it means to a populace to be universally freed from emancipation, indentured servitude. Where the nobility once ruled over life and death, they were now overseers of the King’s land, under the same constraints/laws of the land. The people were guaranteed rights and means for survival through explicit changes and promotions for Education and Land.
The challenges faced by King Tupou I resonates with Tonga even as it voluntarily moved to greater autonomy (greater democratic elections) of the people from the inherited land owners. Two things became part of Tonga’s ethos, convictions.
- ‘Otua mo Tonga ko hoku tofi’a
- ‘auha hoku kakai ko e masiva ‘ilo (Hosea 4:6)
The following pages can only be a simplification of some of the things important to our small nation and in part reflects the bias to which the authors have been involved.
Agriculture and Aquaculture Befitting an economy dependent on subsistence production (predominantly fishing and farming), Tongans are very involved with their garden plots, the weather conditions and the fruits of the sea. Each male is entitled by law to a plot of land sufficient for planting subsistence crops, and the entrepreneurial. By that same law that gives, it can also take away. Any land not effectively ‘managed’ to produce, is liable for removal from you.
Christianity and the Kingdom of Tonga The predominant religious adherence in Tonga is the Christian faith brought to the islands by European missionaries. Although many may see the prejudicial encroachment of white man philosophy to the previously barren, untouched island cultures as removing what was once natural, the accounts of pre-written history Tonga evokes a life of choices for the privileged and fear, death for the peasants. Traditions that were wiped out, were in part created to sustain the dominance of the ruling hierarchy, not spontaneous outpouring of joy from the peasant class.
Education as a pillar for progress, let alone survival, is more explicit in Tonga than in more developed countries. Schools are an integral part of all of Tongan society, as if the whole country is a ‘college-town.’ At various times these schools will have Internet Presence, your mileage might vary. Schools offering University accredited courses ‘Atenisi University Sia’atoutai Theological College University of the Nations University of the South Pacific, Tonga Centre Teachers Training College Business and Trade Schools