Thanks Zane Yoshida for posting this small article my words are inspired by yours – not directed at them.
This article raises an issue that compels me share whats on my mind:
Comparing kava to alcohol is problematic. All it does is contribute to the increasingly dominate palangi narrative that kava is a drug that should be defined and controlled by laws (backed by corporate interests) that ultimately limit the access and control to this traditional drink by ordinary Pacific peoples. This is an issue that impacts on the beauty and importance of our traditional knowledge and the gifts it brings to others who are open to listen, understand and participate in what we have to share.
This may sound obvious, and possibly unnecessarily to some, but we Pasifika people must consider maintaining, reclaiming and promoting the essence and importance of kava from a current Oceanic perspective here in Australia. Broadly speaking for our non-PI friends, kava is our connection to the land and waters of our ancestors and family – past, present and future – there are no lines that divide. It is also known to have important therapeutic and medicinal properties.
If we listen to the palangi who tells us how to look at what is part of our important social rites (however not all Pacific peoples drink kava) we will, in time, act, use and perceive kava their way – we must resist this insidious form of assimilation into palangi ways of using and thinking about kava. I won’t go into the legal restrictions and various perceived problems of kava in Aust in this piece, however, I can safely say that this is a big issue for many PI’s – particularly the Christian fundamentalists – who fully swallowed some of the more nastier misconceptions about kava that were brought by some of the early missionaries to the region. Desite this, many PI Christian groups have integrated kava into their everyday lives and rituals. If the palagi wants to sip kava with their meals like wine, go to a bar and pay silly amounts of money per coconut shell, pop expensive kava tablets for muscle pain, eat dried kava to get their rocks off or make huge amounts of money exploiting our traditional knowledge and kustoms promoting this kind of crap – then let them do it. However, don’t think for a minute that I and others are going to listen to you when you tell us to be happy easy going and obedient natives and comply to the rules you set to control your own naivety, greed and exploitation of our traditions. Neither will we be silent about this.