Mele Koula Young Fa’oliu

“I’ve grown up here in Tonga and went to school here in Tonga. I had a chance to go to university in Australia but then I got married and had a baby and went to BYU Hawaii and got my degree from there.

I’ve been teaching for about 20 years in the High School here in Tonga. Always I’ve been teaching English as a second language and I love it. I love being with kids. They keep me young.

I showed [my story] to my daughter and my husband, and my daughter was crying and said to me, ‘it’s so unfair that you had fananga and I didn’t have it’. I said to her ‘but I read you stories’ and she said, ‘it’s not the same!’”

Fananga Storytelling times

Fananga night had its own magic … my Grandfather’s soothing voice, his own concoctions of local myths and legend, lullabies that were too exciting to put me to sleep.

“As a child I was always fascinated by Maui Kisikisi, one of the Gods in our legends. He was the one who was always playing tricks on people, and I always enjoyed what he did. And that’s why the Fananga was perfect for me, because I grew up with those Fananga.

It’s like the foundation of everything about storytelling and reading and things, that Fananga night that I had all my life as a kid. It’s just like [my digital story] was waiting. It took me back to my childhood. It was very strongly pulling me.

I made it for me, and in memory of my Grandfather. My grandmother married him and then they brought up my mum, and that’s why he’s always very special because you know, he is not blood. I think that’s one of the things that makes it more poignant to me, because he loved me so much. I think he was one of those people who taught me that blood is not thicker than love.”