Collected conversations: Iliesa Samu Lala’s ‘They Said’

“Most of what we inherit today, even believe, are based on what someone said.  Topics in my books such as ‘The Human Brain is too small’, ‘Christianity is not for the Fijians’, ‘Do they still eat people in Fiji?’  and others can be very arresting in ways.”

First it was Sandalwood Blood. Now it’s They Said. Two books in a space of seven years, authored by a Fijian in Tonga, Iliesa Samu Lala.

Now 72 years old, the almost-7-foot giant of a man’s recent work, They Said, collects discussions and conversations he recorded over the years as he travelled the globe.

These adventures include a revelation about the ill-fated RMS Titanic’s voyage at an international poetry meeting in Philadelphia to sitting next to a world-famous astronaut high above the clouds; witnessing the best in human nature while escorting a sick stranger to London from the Pacific Islands to innocently picking up two hitch hikers on the road from Macedonia to Greece; and being asked the question, “Do they still eat people in Fiji?” at Wembley Stadium in London. They Said describes these unique encounters as they are experienced and felt in each location, situation, space and time.

Iliesa Samu Lala or Sam Lala, as he is known in Tonga, had been residing and working in the island Kingdom since 1985. After a year as a teacher in Fiji, Lala has held various roles in the airline sector spanning a good 40 years in Fiji, Australia and Tonga. A keen singer, throughout that period he has been deeply involved in youth ministries, writing numerous plays, skits, cantatas and musical dramas.  He talked to our correspondent, Iliesa Tora at the launch of They Said about his ties to Fiji, how he started writing, future writing plans and advice for young people.

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