Family announces centenarian Soana Pongia’s birthday with Tongan metaphors and Bible verses

The family and relatives of Soana Pongia celebrated her 100 birthday this week and publicly announced it with a greeting full of Tongan metaphors and Biblical verses.

Pongia was born on November 29, 1915.

The announcement attributed Pongia’s 100 anniversary to God, saying He was the only Keeper, He was the Great Keeper and He was the Good Shepherd.

It quoted Psalm 29: “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

The announcement of the celebration referred to Pokoitongo and Taueveeve ‘o e Hikutamole, which are the names of a place and residence in Vava’u Islands.

The reference was a typical metaphorical application used to signify how important the event was, not only to the family but to the village as a whole.

Instead of identifying names of people in the family who had important social status in the event, they referred to the names of the places where they lived. This meant the celebration was no longer restricted to the family of the birthday person, but to all people living in those places.

“Kuo ‘alofaki ‘a e kau fohe loloto”, one metaphorical statement said in the announcement referring to the experienced rowers who are assigned to row boats in deep seas. This metaphor is typically used  to show such a celebration not only has historical importance, but is a rare event.

Another metaphorical reference said: “Pea fisi pea moto pea matala manongi mo ‘alaha ‘i he Fatafata Mafana”.  This refers to how the fragrant Tongan flowers known as kakala of the Fatafatamafana, the metaphorical name for Vava’u Islands, begin to bloom and then they come into full bloom before they send out a pleasant scent.

The birthday greeting announcement was read on Kaniva Tonga Radio Programme on Auckland radio station Planet FM on Monday.

It said the tribute was from the children and grandchildren of Lote Fangupo, Heitonga, Kava ki Motu, ‘Otu Ha’apai Pongia, Mele Latu Pongia, Filipe Pongia, Mele Heitonga Puaka Fakatava, ‘Isoa Kavakimotu Fakatava and Keiano Pa’utu ‘o Vava’u Lahi in Aoteroa.

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