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52. Nafanua (Samoan Legend)

In today's episode, we talk about Nafanua, a warrior goddess and leader of Samoan legend. We discuss colonialism, the archetype of the female warrior, and the ways excluded identities are empowered by her story.


To donate, please go to ko-fi.com/mytholadies.  

Sources:

Wikipedia - Nafanua

Legends From The Pacific, Episode 21: “Samoa’s Goddess of War - Nafanua” 

“Canoe Noses and Coconut Feet: Reading the Samoan Male Body” by Tavita T. Maliko

“Malietoa, Williams, and Samoa’s Embrace of Christianity” by Andrew E. Robson

“Matai Tamatai: Samoan Womanist Agency and Reflections on Nafanua” by Lupematasila Misatauveve Melani Anae

“Sā Nafanuā: Reconstituting Nafanua as Female Empowerment in Samoan Diasporic Literature” by Caryn Lesuma 

Our cover art is by Helena Cailleaux.  You can find her and more of her work on Instagram @helena.cailleaux.illustratrice. Our theme song was composed and performed by Icarus Tyree. To hear more of their music, check out icarust.bandcamp.com.

Transcript

[intro music]

Lizzie: Hello, and welcome to Mytholadies, the podcast where we talk about women from mythology and folklore all over the world. We're your hosts.

Zoe: I'm Zoe.

Lizzie: And I'm Lizzie. And how are you today, Zoe?

Zoe: I'm good. I have spring break starting in less than 12 hours, which is very exciting. I only have one class left, which I'm not looking forward to. But once that's done, I am free for a little over a week, and I'm gonna go home and I'm really excited for that. So that's gonna be really nice. Just gonna relax a bunch eat lots of ice cream. Very excited.

Lizzie: Nice. That sounds really fun.

Zoe: How about you? What's up with you, Lizzie?

Lizzie: Not really anything. I guess. I've just been, you know, sitting around and working. And yeah, I don't know. Not much actually. Yeah, so, before we begin, I want to remind you all that we have a ko-fi page. So you can donate either with a recurring payment or with one payment. And once you do that, you will have access to our subscriber-only posts of which we currently have none. But they are forthcoming.

Zoe: Exactly.

Lizzie: And we would appreciate that greatly. Yeah. So, who are we talking about today?

Zoe: Okay, so today, we are going to be talking about Nafanua, who is a war goddess from the islands of Samoa.

Lizzie: Oh, cool!

Zoe: So have you heard of her at all before?

Lizzie: I actually have not.

Zoe: Oh, that's awesome. She's very cool. So first of all, Samoa is a set of two islands and eight islets in the Pacific. And it's not to be confused with American Samoa, which is separate by the International Dateline. So that's a different—

Lizzie: Oh! Okay.

Zoe: —area. Territory. Country.

Lizzie: Got it.

Zoe: Yeah. Which I didn't know until I start doing my research. But that is a fact. So.

Lizzie: I also didn't know that.

Zoe: Yeah. So Nafanua was born as an aborted blood clot from her parents and her mother originally thought that she was dead and buried her in the earth. However, her father found out what had happened and unburied her. Dug her up. And she emerged from the ground fully grown. And her name can be translated as "hidden in the earth" based on the story. So, her mother is Tilafaiga, who is one of the legendary conjoined twins in Samoan mythology. And they are said to have introduced humanity to the art of tatau, or tattooing. And fun story. They were bringing the art to humans, but they forgot the original instructions. And instead of tattooing woman as they were originally intended, they tattooed men instead. And so women also get tattoos but they are smaller. So that—

Lizzie: Oh, okay.

Zoe: It's a fun little story about Samoan mythology, about the mother of Nafanua. So her father is Savaesi’uleo,, the god of the underworld, which is known as Pulotu. And her parents are also siblings, which is common in Polynesian mythology in... I didn't think that was a big deal. Because like, we see that a lot in mythology throughout the world, but a lot of the sources I was looking at, were talking about her being like, the, you know, the product of taboo and stuff like that. So apparently, like—

Lizzie: I feel like, I mean, we were kind of talking about this a little bit, but like, how incest when it's like, it's mostly frowned upon, but when it's not frowned upon, it's like, you know, kings and like—

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: —gods in this case. So like, it's not that weird.

Zoe: Yeah, it's, it's just, I feel like it's hard to talk about because, like, in myths is just such a different, like, sort of set of standards compared to like—

Lizzie: I mean, the context is totally different.

Zoe: —reality. And also, things change over time. And I don't know, it's just like a hard thing to talk about.

Lizzie: But also it makes sense that gods would all be related to each other.

Zoe: Yeah, I mean, there's not— they all have—

Lizzie: There's not a lot to pick from for potential spouses. So whatever. What are you gonna do?

Zoe: Yeah, yeah, but anyway, so—

Lizzie: Everyone in Greek mythology is related to each other.

Zoe: That is true. They are all related to each other. So yeah, but anyways, so in the story surrounding her, there's a fun story. So on the island of Savai’i, which is one of the two main islands that make up the Samoan island system, and fun fact, Savai’i is linguistically linked to Hawaii.

Lizzie: Ah.

Zoe: Which very cool and—

Lizzie: How so?

Zoe: —fun for me. So basically the person that I listened to a podcast and the way that they explained it is in a lot of like, Polynesian languages, a lot of words are linguistically linked. And it's just like a few letters that are changed. So Savai’i is basically Hawaii, but the letters are changed a little bit.

Lizzie: Oh, does it mean the same thing. Like, does it mean something like, I don't know, home or something like that?

Zoe: I genuinely don't know. I just thought it was a fun fact.

Lizzie: Interesting that a lot of countries like the name for their like, it means something like, you know, the people land or something like that.

Zoe: Yeah, yeah, that is interesting. Yeah. But I don't know about this case. Yeah. But yeah, so on the island of Savai’i in the Samoan islands chain, there was unrest. The east side and the west sides of the island were at war with one another. They were looking for land and control of the entire island as land was the greatest sign of wealth in Samoan culture. So they were basically looking to control the entire island. The current high chief of the island was named Lilomaiava. And he was a cruel man. When he conquered the west side, he forced the villagers to climb a coconut tree feet first, humiliating them horribly and causing them a lot of pain.

Lizzie: Oh, wow.

Zoe: However, what he didn't realize is one of the men that he forced into this practice was Ta’i’i who was the brother of the underworld God, Savaesi’uleo, and as he was climbing the tree, he sighed loudly in pain and humiliation. This sigh caught the attention of his brother who noticed his plight, enraged by the actions of Lilomaiava, he sent his daughter Nafanua to avenge Ta’i’i and teach Lilomaiava a lesson. So that's her little origin story. When she arrived on the beach of Savai’i, she was taken in by a couple from the western side of the island, who became her adoptive parents. Oh, sort of a bit of information, background information. The entrance to the underworld Pulotu is said to be on the western side of the island. So therefore, like the underworld gods sort of were considered Western Islanders, you know, yeah. They had allegiance to the western side of the island.

Lizzie: That's interesting. So the underworld was, you know, below.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: But there's only one entrance.

Zoe: Yeah. Or I mean like, you also go there when you die. It's sort of similar to like Valhalla. So sort of like a warrior's underworld, but it's also like, I guess there's a way to enter it when you're not dead.

Lizzie: Is it maybe that they also come from...?

Zoe: Oh, yeah. That might be I don't know. But yeah, okay. But anyway, that is why, like, she has allegiance. And also her uncle had allegiance to the western side of the island. So yeah, so when she she arrived on the beach of Savai’i, he and she was taken in by a Western couple, and they became her adoptive parents. So she was fully like, aligned with the Western side of the island. And then when she got there, she began to follow the instructions of her father. And her first instruction was to cut down a toa tree and she did. And so from the wood of this tree, she fashioned four items. The first one was called Ta Fesilafa’i. And that was her main weapon, it was a wooden hook facing side out with three to four sharp teeth set opposite its gap. And then the second one was called Fa’auli’ulito. And it was a heavy round stick with a heavy and wide edge, sort of like a billy club. And then she fashioned two other weapons to help bring about different ends of the conflict. So the first one was called Ulimasao, and that was a weapon designed to end the war and bring about peace. Its name could be translated to driving safely. And it's basically a paddle shaped with round smooth sides and one pointed edge. And then the last weapon was the most dangerous of all, and it was called Fa’amategataua, and it was the weapon of death. It was a spear with sharp teeth at the place where the blade meets the staff. It was the most deadly weapon she made and it could kill members of her own divine family. So it's a very dangerous weapon and it would bring about a bloody and destructive end to the conflict, basically, like a total annihilation and, and she having made these weapons and chanted them with power from the spirit world. So her father made her promise that she would stop fighting when she reached the village of their family in order to ensure that she didn't kill any members of their family in her battle rage, and she agreed to that before she set out on her conquest. She asked her adoptive parents if they would fight alongside her against Lilomaiava. They told her that they didn't really know how to fight. So she gave them her second weapon Fa’auli’ulito, and told them to stay at the edge of the battlefield so that they wouldn't get in her way. And then she began fighting. When the warriors rushed to meet her, she cut down all of them, no one could stand a chance against her, she could fight harder, faster, better than any of them. Her parents made their way around the edges of the battlefield fighting against their oppressors as well. Eventually, however, they got too close to Nafanua and she accidentally killed them in a battle frenzy without realizing it.

Lizzie: Oh!

Zoe: Once she reached her family's village, she was surrounded by enemies, she forgot her father's warning and she continued fighting with vengeance consumed by her bloodlust. However, before she could continue fighting much longer, a gust of wind blew past her lifting up her coverings and revealing her breasts. The warriors around her stopped fighting, stunned. Up until that point, they had believed that they were fighting against an incredibly skilled male warrior. However, now they could see that they had been outmatched by a woman. They could not handle the simulation and surrendered to her. And the fighting stopped. So Nafanua continued until she had conquered the entire island and became the ultimate Ali'i or chieftain of Samoa. She never used her last two items, and never created a peaceful or exceedingly deadly end to her fight. After her campaign, she lived in the village of Falealupo, which held the gateway to the spirit world of Pulotu. She was quite famous at that point, and many people would travel to ask her advice on matters of foreign government. So one day, a man came to her asking her for help in uniting Samoa and ending bloodshed for once and for all. And after some consideration, she replied to him, wait on the heavens for a crown for your kingdom. And eventually, in 1830, the missionary John Williams arrived in Samoa and presented a bible to the first person that he met on the beach. This man was the descendant of the original man who had come to Nafanua and asked her for advice. Eventually, he would become the ruler of a united Samoa, and was known as "the king whom Samoa listens to". And it's believed by many that these events fulfilled Nafanua's prophecy.

Lizzie: Oh!

Zoe: So that's kind of her story. Do you have any thoughts?

Lizzie: So because he was handed a bible that showed that he was the rightful king? Like...

Zoe: Well, with like Christianity, he became the ruler of a united Samoa, as the descendant of the original guy who had asked for advice, so it's believed that she, like predicted the coming of Christianity. And like, that guy—

Lizzie: Yeah, the like, folk religion, like sort of peacefully making way for Christianity. I mean, I wonder if how, like, that's perceived now? Like, if that was just a post-Christian interpretation?

Zoe: Yeah. I don't know. But yeah, I mean, like, I don't know how actually peaceful it was like, or, you know, I mean, ultimately, I do feel like coming to a place where you aren't from, have never been to before, have never interacted with the people before and saying, like, well, this is the religion that you need to follow. And this is the way that you live to your life is a pretty violent act—

Lizzie: —Can't have been that peaceful. Oh, well, yeah.

Zoe: —In and of itself. But, I mean, like, I wouldn't, I don't know if it was necessarily like the most violent or the most peaceful, like conversion story of any like place that was ultimately colonized and converted to Christianity. But there is the story that like, basically, is interpreted that she predicted that this would happen.

Lizzie: Yeah.

Zoe: And I think that's very interesting. And yeah, I mean, some people like, take it to believe that there's sort of more agency in the conversion, like, she basically gave them permission to, you know, convert to Christianity. It was more of like a peaceful conversion, as we were sort of saying, but also some people have a more like ironic view, and sort of say that, like Nafanua foretold the coming of Christianity. And therefore that means that God, Jesus, and Christian figures on the islands are beholden to her, not the Christian God. And she is the ultimate figure power and authority. And because therefore, like she was the one who gave permission for Christianity to be on the island, and they needed her permission. So that's like some ways that it's—

Lizzie: And she predicted it.

Zoe: Yeah, and that she predicted it. So that's some ways that it's interpreted, which I think are pretty fun and interesting.

Lizzie: That is interesting. Yeah.

Zoe: Overall, I mean, I think it's a really interesting story. There's a lot of pain and trauma associated with the introduction of Christianity to Samoa. Like that, it's like similar to a lot of places, you know, it's created more patriarchal standards created more like repressive ideas about gender and sexuality.

Lizzie: I mean also replacing a folk religion with Christianity is already like a colonizing act like it gets rid of like culture and stories and obviously a lot of customs as well.

Zoe: Yeah. And so, like, again, yeah, it's, it's, I mean, it's an interesting story that there's like this prediction and it's not like, necessarily a negative prediction, like when I was first like, you know, like Nafanua the woman who, the goddess who predicted that Christianity would come I thought it'd be like the, you know, this really dark prediction that would be like, Oh, these people will like, destroy everything or something. But it's like, no, like, wait for the king. Wait on the heavens for crown for your kingdom. And it's like, yeah, much more neutral or like, and so I just I don't know, it's just a very interesting story.

Lizzie: Yeah, it is. Yeah.

Zoe: Yeah. I was wondering if you there any stories and mythology that this reminded you of at all?

Lizzie: Yeah. Freydis from the Icelandic sagas.

Zoe: Oh, interesting!

Lizzie: Oh, you weren't thinking that? Well, I was also thinking Durga, but the part where she like exposes her breasts. I know that it's not on purpose.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: I was like, so Freydis.

Zoe: I know that's true. But yeah.

Lizzie: Were you thinking of Durga or who were you thinking of?

Zoe: Remind me what this made you think of Durga again?

Lizzie: Because she was this like female warrior who got sent in by the the other gods for I guess—

Zoe: Oh, yeah.

Lizzie: —to end the fighting.

Zoe: That does make a lot of sense.

Lizzie: And she had these, and she had these fancy weapons, and she got all prepared. And she just like, went in and started fighting everyone.

Zoe: Yeah, I that makes a ton of sense. That totally sounds similar. So me, she reminded me specifically of two different stories. The first story she reminded me was actually of Athena.

Lizzie: Oh, oh, well, I guess I guess the part about her being fully formed in the ground kind of—

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: —was similar to Athena's birth, like fully formed—

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: —in the head of Zeus.

Zoe: Yeah. Well, that's the first thing that made me think of her right was like that. She was... sort of had an unconventional birth, like she was originally born as like a blood clot. And they thought that she was dead and they buried her and then her father came to like, dig her up, and she was fully formed from the ground. But then also she is associated with war, which Athena is also associated with. And so I thought that was interesting.

Lizzie: I don't know if this is equivocal, but Athena is associated with wisdom and Nafanua—

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: —predicted the future.

Zoe: Yeah. I mean, she was definitely a figure that people went to for wisdom. So I think that's also like an interesting parallel. And then the other story that really reminded me is the story of Sekhmet and Hathor in Egyptian mythology. And do you remember the story at all?

Lizzie: No, remind me.

Zoe: I don't remember all the details. But basically, what happens is Sekhmet, who's like the violent war goddess side of Hathor, the, the peaceful goddess of love and fertility sort of goes on this like killing rampage across Egypt. And like sort of destroying everything in her path. And eventually, the only way that she's saved is or like she stopped is because a bunch of like, people turn beer red, with like pomegranate juice to make her think that it's blood. And when she like, drinks it up, she gets so drunk that she passes out and then returns to her peaceful form. And so that sort of makes me think of her simply because she is going on this killing granted, she kind of can't stop herself. You know, we're sort of seeing that in like, you know, she gets to her family's village and she can't stop herself. She kills her parents, like her adoptive parents, and she can't stop herself. You know, like.

Lizzie: Yeah, that makes sense.

Zoe: And in a way, you could say that, like the reveal of her breasts and reveal of her like, womanhood is sort of similar to like, the return of Sekhmet to Hathor as like the sort of more peaceful, like, feminine side of her. Her character. I don't know. It's just sort of thought I had. But yeah, I mean, it's, again, it's like about a warrior goddess, like going on a sort of murderous rampage and having to be stopped, which is interesting.

Lizzie: Yeah. And I mean, with the story of Durga, the whole thing was she was a woman and so they like underestimated her that he could only be defeated by a man and then she comes in and, and defeats everyone. And then for them, she, for Nafanua she defeated everyone. And then when they realize that she's a woman, they're like, this is humiliating.

Zoe: Yeah. Yeah, and I mean, it's interesting because in a lot of ways, a lot of people find her story to be very empowering. And in like some of my sources sort of cited this story as like a reason that gender equality is taught among the people of Samoa and across the Pacific Islands today. But I also kind of couldn't help finding a more cynical view of it when I was like reading the story and listening to the story. Like, so Nafanua is sent by her father in response to his brother, her uncle's intense humiliation, her main goal is to avenge her uncle. And although she ends up the Ali'i of the island, I don't necessarily think that was like the goal. And what really stuck out to me was the description of the men's shame and humiliation when they found out that the person they've been fighting against and losing to was a woman. And so I'm wondering if like the real goal was sort of humiliate the men and the people on the other side as her uncle had been humiliated before?

Lizzie: Oh, yeah. That's an interesting take. Yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense 'cause there's the humiliation in both aspects.

Zoe: I mean, it's like, I think that what she does is very cool and incredible, but it's also just like, very powerful and like meaningful to me that like, what ultimately stops the battle is not her intense, her like incredible skills as a warrior. And the amount of like, killing that she's doing, it's the fact that she's a woman, and they can't bear the shame of the fact that they're being beaten by a woman.

Lizzie: Yeah.

Zoe: And it's really the shame that stops the battle.

Lizzie: Yeah, it's true.

Zoe: And, today, the place on Savai'i where Nafanua's gender was revealed is known as the field of shame. And so it seems like one of the main things associated with this event is shame. More so than like—

Lizzie: Yeah, like, you wonder if we're meant to be on the men's side or not, like if we're supposed to be like, oh, look how cowardly they are, or something like are supposed to be like, oh, yeah, that's so shameful of them to be beaten by a woman.

Zoe: Yeah. I mean, like, yeah, that's sort of, I mean, I just like really—

Lizzie: Like are we meant to condemn their shame or not?

Zoe: Yeah. Like, ultimately, what stops the fighting is the fact that they're too embarrassed to keep going. And, again, like, what really gets me is that what started this was the embarrassment of her uncle.

Lizzie: Yeah, I mean, so it's really that's like powerful of her to be, you know, this woman who causes all the men to just stop and run away. But also, it's like, I mean, she was ready for like a full fight. And she didn't actually get to use her last two weapons, because they just ran away.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: Like, she could have gone more. She could have continued fighting for a while.

Zoe: Yeah. Yeah. So it's—

Lizzie: Like it's kind of insulting to her to not even finish the fight.

Zoe: Yeah. And so yeah, I mean, I don't know. I mean, I think that what she did was very impressive. I think she's obviously very skilled. But I don't know if that's the message that we're supposed to take away? I don't know.

Lizzie: Yeah. I mean, I think there's probably a lot of ways you can interpret the story.

Zoe: Yeah. But ultimately, like, it is important to say that nowadays, Nafanua is considered important symbol of like female empowerment and strength in like Pacific Islander communities, particularly like, on Samoa and Samoan diaspora communities. And like, I think that's also important, like that's also significant.

Lizzie: Yeah, like it wasn't just about the way that the men were perceiving this story.

Zoe: Yeah. And so I don't want to undermine her accomplishments or her significance, either. And I want to, like, use a quote, that one woman said in her paper that “the legend of Nafanua and the political/historical accounts of her achievements are stories of celebration and survival. From a blood clot and as a result of an incestuous union to becoming a renowned war goddess and a paramount leader, her legacy opens up a space which shifts excluded/inferior identities to more empowering and entitled identities.”  So, I mean, that's definitely a more optimistic way of looking at that. I've been like saying, and I think that's also a very valid way of interpreting the stories that, but with her great power and strength and her ability, she is the one who becomes the leader. And she therefore opens up things more for other woman and other people on the island.

Lizzie: Yeah. I mean, it was because there was so much struggle, and then there was just a totally new leadership in place.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: That was, you know, more I don't maybe it was more fair or or just better for women? I don't know. But either way.

Zoe: Yeah. And also, like there are, as like, there are with every story discussed on this podcast, variations to it. And one variation that is really interesting to me is that in some versions, it's Nafanua who convinces her father to let her avenge her uncle's humiliation. And so that to me, I think changes the story a lot. First of all, it just gives more agency in general; she's not just following orders. She's doing what she wants to do. And second of all, it makes her rage, more like under, like, not understandable, I don't want to say—

Lizzie: More personal.

Zoe: More personal and it sort of gives it more of a backstory basically like she has been wanting to do this from the beginning, she is so angry about how her uncle has been treated that like, it's no wonder that she's rampaging across the entire island because this is really upset her like, it was her choice to do that she's not just sort of being sent in by her father who's like, oh, well, you're a great warrior, go do this. Like she's like, I want to do this.

Lizzie: And then in that case, like, she wanted to humiliate the men for what they did to her uncle, not her father was just using her to humiliate them.

Zoe: So I think I mean, that's a really interesting other interpretation. I think that variations of stories are very interesting. And I think that, you know, I mean, obviously, we can't say, we can't talk about what came first are like, what is influenced by what because we just don't know. But they're interesting. All I have to say about that.

Lizzie: Oral storytelling naturally has variations.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: Like as the teller of the story, you get to control which version like if she has a lot of agency, or if she doesn't.

Zoe: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Lizzie: So you wonder, you know, about people who are telling the stories, which are like, I don't even know if there was multiple versions that were being told or if they just knew the one and then just kept saying that, but you know, I mean, there's a lot of power in like oral storytelling being the one who's telling the story.

Zoe: Yeah. And so also thinking about other ways that she's interpreted nowadays. The poet Dan Taulapapa McMullin portrays Nafanua as an icon for, for fa'afafine, or third gender people of the Samoan islands, stating in his “Fa’afafine Poem” that "Nafanua was the greatest warrior of Samoan history. / When she went to war, (s)he disguised her gender by covering her chest." And you can't see it because you can't like hear it. But there's parentheses around she in she disguised her gender. So it's the parentheses around the "s". So it's she/he sort of thing.

Lizzie: Yeah.

Zoe: Which I think is a fun interpretation. By associating Nafanua with fa’afafine, McMullin, moves them into a center of culture and political power. And therefore doing as previously said, shifting excluded inferior identities to a more empowering and titled identities. So.

Lizzie: Yeah, that's also an interesting interpretation.

Zoe: So once again, like, she, it is an empowering narrative. And there's a lot of really great things to take out of the story.

Lizzie: Yeah. I mean, like I was, I mentioned earlier that it reminded me a little bit of Freydis from the Icelandic Sagas and her whole thing was that she, she just like was, she like, turned around. She like, took off her shirt to reveal her breasts. And then the men who were like chasing her, like, screamed, they were like—

Zoe: Well, also, also, she slapped her sword against her breasts and started yelling loudly.

Lizzie: Ah. Yeah, and they were really freaked out. And they ran away, right?

Zoe: Yeah. Yeah.

Lizzie: Yeah. I mean, this has kind of a similar thing of like, just, I mean, seeing someone seeing a woman's like, breasts in like a battle scenario. I mean it's kind of like a shocking sight. Right? Like, it's just just kind of, like, Oh, my God, what's going on?

Zoe: Yeah, I think—

Lizzie: I mean, I guess the contexts are, like a little bit different. I mean, one was on purpose, one wasn't.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: But it's interesting. Like, just, I mean it is kind of interesting to me that like, women's breasts or like, like the way that they are in mythology. Like, I don't remember her name right now, but the lady who was associated with chopping off her breasts. That was also another one. There was also—

Zoe: Yeah, the saint.

Lizzie: Yeah, yeah, I forget her name right now.

Zoe: And then there's then there's what's her name? Kannaki.

Lizzie: Kannaki who—

Zoe: Who tore off her breast. 

Lizzie: Yeah.

Zoe: Cursed the city.

Lizzie: She threw it and— yeah! I mean, that's quite powerful.

Zoe: Yeah. Breasts are powerful.

Lizzie: Breasts are powerful. I mean, that makes absolute sense biologically.

Zoe: Happy Women's Month. [Lizzie laughs] Anyway, so Nafanua Is the namesake of many things, including an active underwater volcano near American Samoa, and a patrol vessel operated by the Western Samoa Police Department.

Lizzie: Oh.

Zoe: Yeah. It is, as I said before, believed that her actions helped equalize relationships between genders. And after her campaign, women were now seen as equal to men. And to this day, most Polynesian names and titles are unisex and the title Nafanua is one of the highest-ranking legendary Samoan titles.

Lizzie: Oh, cool!

Zoe: For example, in 1988, the title of Nafanua was given to Dr. Paul Alann Cox, for his conservation work on Samoas rainforest. So it's a very high honor to be given the title of Nafanua, which is very cool.

Lizzie: Definitely.

Zoe: And as I s- I don't know if I said this before, but she is continually evoked by many poets from Samoa and the Samoan diaspora, often used as a means of empowerment or as a way to discuss and examine the past. So she is very relevant to people's lives to this day. Thanks to her very brave and powerful actions in her fight.

Lizzie: Yeah, I mean, I think that female warriors are just like really cool.

Zoe: Yeah—

Lizzie: I mean I like when it's like revealed that they're a woman and then everyone thinks, I mean, I'm thinking about— which Lord of the Rings movie is it where she takes off her helmet?

Zoe: Oh, that's. Sorry. That's, that's Return of the King.

Lizzie: Is that second one?

Zoe: No, that's the third one. Lizzie. Oh my goodness.

Lizzie: [laughing] Oh, I haven't actually seen that one yet. I just.

Zoe: Yeah!

Lizzie: I've seen, I've seen a clip.

Zoe: I would, I would have thought you would realize you haven't seen that one yet. Anyways.

Lizzie: Yeah, I just I just know that I watched a clip at some point. [laughs]

Zoe: Yeah, it's okay. We need to watch Return of the King at some point.

Lizzie: Yeah, we do.

Zoe: Alright. well.

Lizzie: But yeah, female warriors are just cool. Like, there's also Yennenga.

Zoe: Yennenga. Durga.

Lizzie: Durga is very cool. Athena.

Zoe: Athena. I mean, there. There are other ones. We have a whole list of female warriors.

Lizzie: I'm thinking of Mulan, but is that a little different? I don't know.

Zoe: I mean, she's a female warrior.

Lizzie: Well, she's a soldier I guess.

Zoe: She fits the definition of female- Is there a difference?

Lizzie: I love Mulan. No, I guess there's not a difference.

Zoe: I don't know. I feel like. I don't know. Anyway.

Lizzie: But there's definitely some in Norse mythology.

Zoe: Oh, yeah.

Lizzie: Maybe not.

Zoe: I mean, the Valkyries kinda.

Lizzie: Them too.

Zoe: Are they?  I mean, do they fight though? Or do they just dead soldiers off the battlefield and bring them to Valhalla?

Lizzie: Oh, I don't know, actually. You would know better than I would.

Zoe: But anyways, thanks for listening to this episode. I hope you enjoyed it. I did a lot of research.

Lizzie: I hope you think female warriors are cool.

Zoe: Yes, I do. I like this episode a lot, personally.

Lizzie: She's very cool. I also think that Oceanian figures are so underrated.

Zoe: They are they really are. There's a lot of cool stuff going on. I'll plug the podcast that I listened to, which is Legends From the Pacific. They have a lot of really cool episodes. They're all like 10 minutes long, so it doesn't take that long to listen to. And I got a little bit information from the episode on Nafanua. So. Yeah.

Lizzie: Nice. I also thought our Pele episode was really fun. And I still intend to make an episode on Miru at some point.

Zoe: Okay. Yeah, I was wondering, I've been wondering about that. Because you said I'm going to choose that—

Lizzie: She's been in the back of my mind for well over a year now.

Zoe: —then I can't I can't do her, but.

Lizzie: Oh, fair, fair. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Well, that's forthcoming. In theory.

Zoe: Yeah. Well, get excited. It'll probably be there. Sometime in the future. All right.

Lizzie: So thank you, Zoe, for today's episode, and thank you for listening. Please feel free to subscribe, donate to our Ko-fi, listen to our other episodes, leave a review. And we'll see you back here again in two weeks.

Zoe: Thank you so much. Bye.

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