'O SEU MA LE TAMA SEUGOGO LAFULAFUĀ
SEU AND THE RUFFLED BIRD CATCHER
Lafulafu a tama seugogo is an old Samoan proverb that teaches the importance of not judging another person by his or her appearance alone. For Seu, a blind girl facing discrimination at school, the proverb is inspirational. When told she cannot enter a short story competition because she is blind, Seu’s grandfather tells her the extraordinary tale of a moss-ridden bird catcher, her ancestor, who turns out to be much more than he first appears.
Seu too has more to offer than the people of her village expect. With new-found confidence and the help of her albino cousin, a lonely boy who lives in the forest, she devises a clever plan to enter the competition.
Author: Galumanemana Steven Percival
Illustration: Kate Delaney
This book was first published with the generous support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Office for the Pacific based in Suva, Fiji.
I really enjoyed “Seu and the Ruffled Bird Catcher.” Seu is a great character. I like how she was able to be strong even though she would be teased by other children and was looked down on by the adults, even her own mother and teachers. I also like Pati, her albino cousin, who shared adventures with her in the forest. In this book I learnt about the strength and character of human nature and the different Samoan birds and their Samoan names and the importance of looking after our environment. Seu, short for Seugagogo, was named by her grandfather because he saw a likeness between her and the gogo bird and because of this he believed that she can ‘catch the gogo” (seugagogo). I recommend this story for any child who wants to learn about our Samoan environment, our forest and birds. Thank you Galumalemana Steven Percival for this wonderful book.
Tinei Sauni, 11 years old
Prison need not be made of bars or locked doors or high walls. The hardest, most painful prisons are often made of words, words like “no” and “you can’t”. The worst injuries may not be those made with sticks or stones, but with unkind names and words.
As a man blind from when I was a very small boy, who teaches blind children and grownups all over the world, I know the sting of these words, and I feel it in my students. But this story of Seugagogo (one who catches the gogo) and Pati is not just about the struggles of a boy and a girl for the right to be treated and respected like other children, but about the struggle of all mankind for freedom from restrictions placed unnecessarily or unjustly on others. These restrictions are often made because people don’t know they shouldn’t be made. It is much easier to say, “No, you can’t” than to say “Yes, let’s find a way.” Blind people throughout the world, in great cities and tiny villages, are told “no”, when they could be told “yes.” And like Seu, many blind people find their own way, even though others tried to block them. I am the first blind person to teach blind people how to use echolocation, even though many insisted that it was impossible. Now, not only do I teach blind people, but I also teach the teachers who said it was impossible. Blind people have written world famous books, climbed the highest mountains, explored vast reaches of the world, sailed the seas and flown the skies. Blind people dream the dreams that everyone dreams, to be accepted, respected, and supported to achieve.
The journey of Seu and Pati represents the human journey from darkness to light, from limit to freedom, from ignorance to knowing and believing. As we read their tale and partake in their journey, we are prompted to ask: “Who is blind?” Is it the girl who can’t see, or the boy who keeps to the shadows, who finds a way to challenge the impossible, to find a way to turn disbelief into reality, who learn great secrets of the heart and soul which can only be known by the light of the spirit? Or is it those who hold fast to the smallness of impossibility, unbelief, and limitation? Does the worst blindness come from not seeing? Or does it come from not knowing? If we are to take a lesson from Seu and Pati, which is a lesson of the ages, we would seek the light, not solely for the eye, but for the heart, mind, and spirit - for it is this light that shines upon the path to achievement and fulfillment, not just for a blind girl or forsaken boy, but for us all.
Daniel Kish, Perceptual Mobility Specialist, World Access for the Blind