Marcellin College

Fa’a Samoa: The Samoan Way

Sina and the Eel

by Angeline

Myths and legends such as "Sina and the Eel" have shaped Samoan identity. This story has become very famous amongst many countries. Here is one of the versions I know of "Sina and the Eel".

Many years ago in Samoa there was a very beautiful girl named Sina. Sina loved animals. One day she decided to go down to the rock pools to have a bath. While she was there she noticed that a particular eel was swimming around her. So after Sina had had a bath she decided that she would take the eel home and take care of it as her pet. Sina loved her pet eel. Her father saw how much she loved the eel so he decided to build a rock pool for the eel to swim in.

After a period of time Sina and her father noticed how big the eel was growing and were concerned. The eel became very violent. Everytime Sina would feed it, it would strike her with its tail. Sina was very angry. She decided to take it back to sea, but that very afternoon, the eel followed her.

The eel became very angry with Sina. Sina started to run but the eel was too fast. The eel hit her in the face and then struck her in the back with its tail. Sina ran to the nearest fale for help. The men that were in the house had heard the cry of a young girl. When the men saw Sina they noticed how beautiful she was. They were so determined to impress Sina so every one of them had turns attempting to kill the eel.

The eel eventually died and Sina was very happy. The men who killed the eel for Sina decided that they would cook the eel for a celebration. Sina saved the head of the eel. She took the eel’s head home and explained everything to her parents. That same night Sina decided to bury the eel’s head next to her fale.

The next morning Sina went to see if the eel was still buried in the same spot. She was really shocked to see a coconut tree in the very spot the eel was buried. Everyone in Sina’s village noticed this beautiful tree and gathered around the tree in amazement. While the village people were observing this new creation of nature, a coconut fell from the tree.

The eel had produced fruits for Sina and her village people. It was understood that the three holes in the coconut signified the eel. The two openings of the coconut signify the eyes of the eel, and the soft opening of the three is understood to signify the mouth of the eel. You nudge it and the coconut juice flows out. So ever since that very day everyone is reminded of the story of Sina and the eel when they eat or drink a coconut.

I heard this version of "Sina and the Eel" through friends of mine. All Samoans who know this myth will assure you that there are many slightly different versions of it. The way the story was passed on by word of mouth from village to village was the cause of these differences. I love listening to the different versions of "Sina and the Eel". We performed the story for one of our drama assessments.