Epeli Hau’ofa, in Tales of the Tikongs, expresses that people must stay true to their beliefs, no matter where you go or think you may go. He backs up his belief by his intricate use of style in his writing. He also uses each “tale” as a way to show the different way to uphold one’s identity. Another brilliant way Hau’ofa provides evidence is through the character Manu by making him represent the heart of a city or group of people.
The writing style of Tales of the Tikongs upholds how national pride and identity can be kept in tact. One way Hau’ofa builds upon this belief is through the diction and tone exclusively. For instance, he uses words that are native to the South Pacific Island, Tiko. The way that Hau’ofa writes is almost in a way that a native person from Tiko would understand without any doubt. The perspective comes from the viewer in the inside. Hau’ofa’s tone explicitly shows as if the narrator is trying extremely hard to convince readers that they must hold onto their own identity and don’t get lost in the attempt for foreigners to change them. As a result of this, Hau’ofa is attempting to teach readers a very important thing about travel to a foreign land. They must understand when they travel to another place, that as much as they are learning about themselves and their own limitations, they must realize that the native people will respect their customs but as well, want respect for their own and do not want change. No matter what, you must be proud of your land. He does not believe in going to another land and making it your own.
In the basic structure of the book, Hau’ofa takes each tale and turns it into a portrait for ways to stay strong and hold onto your identity. For instance, when Neoli is learning about religion, which in fact is a very strong motif that runs throughout the book thus far, he tries to live the life that is presented by the religion. However, as time progresses, he falls for a native woman and marries her. Another example can be found in Hiti. Hiti runs his business in a way that is extremely foreign to others and puzzles one of his foreign workers, but he does not care and continues to run the business in his “family orientated” structure. When Ika is talking to a foreign businessman, it takes the businessman to pretend that he is a native and just like him in order for him to make him feel comfortable and accept what he wants. Because of these different tales, readers are able to see exactly how natives are holding onto what is important to them. They refuse to let foreigners and outsiders try to change what they have done for years and what they want to continue to do for years.
Manu becomes the tool for Hau’ofa to show the core of a city, of a nation, of a people. Manu appears in every tale thus far as a way to speak out against foreigners and “development” or D-E-V-E-L-O-P-M-E-N-T. In each tale, Manu gives keys to what it means to be a native from Tiko. It is not natural for him to speak to others. Manu works as the speaker for the people, a speaker to show others what it means to be from Tiko. With Manu, it is possible to see what Tiko can be. With such a abstract and mysterious character, he is able to shed light on ideas, such as the belief of nationalism, that the other characters only seem to show how it can be done.
It is extremely odd how Black Rainbow and Tales of the Tikongs seem to say the same thing at the end of the day. In Black Rainbow, the protagonist wishes to stay the way he is supposed to be and hold on to his identity. Manu speaks about the same idea by trying to keep his people together and staying close to their customs and cultural roots. In a way, Tales of the Tikongs is a book that seems to build on what Black Rainbow fleshed out and fulfills it with Manu.