When John the Apostle said “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32), he was closing the deal on converting a group of Jews to Christianity. It was his ‘truth’ versus their ‘truth’. But when Fa’amoana John Luafutu quotes his so-called namesake in The White Guitar he means that taking personal responsibility for your own actions and inaction, and seeking forgiveness from those you hurt, including yourself, will set you free.
The name is important. There is a memorable moment when Malo Luafutu (aka Scribe) impersonates the palagi schoolteacher in Auckland who finds Fa’amoana far too hard to pronounce so declares his name to be John. It marks the turning point of dislocation, dispossession, disorientation, disillusion and lost self-esteem experienced by him as a small child. His parents’ dream of a better life for their children also collided with the cultural ignorance of mainstream New Zealand in the 1950s. Then there is parental punishment: the ‘I hit you because I love you myth’.
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