In spite the lowly stigma attached to being a nofotane, as strangers who marry into the family and as women who serve, Fesola'i Aleni Sofara of the National University of Samoa claim nofotane is not a demand on women but a choice.
Fesolai Aleni Sofara presented at the National University of Samoa, during Samoa Conference IV on the second day, on the theme ‘The law of being an in-law’ [nofotane ole tofi]
Fesolaí defined nofotane as Nofo- means to stay, to live or to be with and tane the husband.
Nofotane is the Samoan translation for "wife" or Ava.
That status will be with the woman for life.
"No matter if you are a daughter of an orator, a well respected lady within the family and village, once a woman is married she is called a nofotane.
She belongs to the kitchen and does all the nofotane responsibilities," he added.
“In addition, the late Hon. Tofilau Eti Alesana 1991 said this when the Department of Women Affairs was established, "E tamaitai uma tamaitai o Samoa ae le Tina uma tamaitai,” he said.
Fesola’I added that, “All Samoan women are ladies (tamaítaí) but not all ladies are mothers".
He said to be a nofotane is a choice made by each individual woman, and not a demand.
As such they have the right to voice their concerns, and involve themselves in decision-making within their homes and communities.
He said in addressing the role of a nofotane that a good nofotane can make a good man out of her husband to be a Matai of the family.
Fesolai concluded by pointing out that many families' economic status have improved because of the contributions of the nofo-tane.
Fesola’i Aleni Sofara is a lecturer in Commercial law at the faculty of Business and entrepreneurship at the National University of Samoa.
*Marilyn is a second year Media and Journalism student at the National University of Samoa.