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SAMOA CELEBRATES 44 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

By Lagi Keresoma
 

Samoa has undergone major changes in its development since her first independence celebration in 1962. From traditional celebration to the modernized contemporary music and dance, Samoa is trying to revive its old traditional events, and the same time, adopting new ones.

This year’s celebration marked the 44th anniversary since New Zealand handed over the governing of Samoa to the Samoan people. The celebration saw the usual morning parades as schools and various organizations marched smartly to where His Highness the Head of State Malietoa Tanumafili 11 and guests were seated.

It was the first time Malietoa had inspected the police honored guard in a wheelchair. Deputy Council member and former Prime Minister Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi had the honor of raising the flag to the sound of 44 gunshots.

American Samoa’s Lt Governor Togiola Tulafono presented the keynote address, where he praised Samoa for not only being the first in the pacific to gain independence, but the first to participate in various international events.

The Independence celebration was the biggest event in the history of Samoa, but sadly, other events like the Teuila festival seems to take over the importance of independence. In the past, independence was celebrated all throughout the week, and then gradually, it was deemed down to four days until recently, to one day.

Gone are the days of lopa (Samoan version of sunflower seeds) and sugar cane. Also gone are the days when Mulinuu was backed with families who camped around the area from morning until the end of celebration each day.

The variations in time frame of celebration have saddened some of the public, especially those whose forefathers have fought for the freedom of Samoa from colonial rule. Whilst independence has a significant role in shaping Samoa government, “priority is given to the development of tourism, hence the whole week allocated to the celebration of Teuila festival.”

This years events saw the revival of the marching girls competition, which has been absent from the independence celebration for awhile, although they are still part

   

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saint Cubs march. (Photo: Lagi Keresoma)
 

Don Bosco performing the sasa.
(Photo: Lagi Keresoma)
 

The only school from Savaii, Tuasivi College performing the mauluulu.
(Photo: Lagi Keresoma)

  of the teuila festival. Now more schools are encouraged to participate in future competitions.

The fautasi race is still the highlight of both celebrations with this years race hailed as one of the best competition between veteran racers Telefoni o le Vainuu from Manono, and newcomer Premo Segavao from Siusega which was rowed by students of Don Bosco school.

While Telefoni won the race, it was Segavao that won the heart of the people, especially after some harsh remarks from the captain of Telefoni. Fautasi race remains the highlight of every independence celebration. The race was always dominated by boats from Manono, Fagaloa and Apolima in the past  Traditional oars will soon be a thing of the past as spoon oars take over.

People are hoping to see the return of paopao(outrigger) and tulula race which was popular amongst fishermen in the past.

Another sight for sore eyes was the return of the Church College Western Samoa (CCWS) from Pesega band. Their return marked one of the most significant events in past Independence celebration that of marching bands competition.

The Independence committee hopes that Pesega with other bands will continue to participate in more celebrations. This year’s celebration also saw the decline in numbers of schools and organizations participating in the morning parade.

The celebration of past Independence celebration have been marked by both good and sad events.

In 2002, Samoa celebrated one of the most important independence celebration of its history, as this was the year New Zealand Prime Minister Hon. Helen Clark apologized for the past wrong done by the then New Zealand government to the people of Samoa. This was in reference o the epidemic of 1819 which almost wiped out the Samoa population and the Black Saturday event which led to the death of Mau Movement leader Tamasese Lealofi IV and nine other Mau followers. Ms Clark even laid a wreath on the fallen leaders tomb at Lepea.

The sad events includes the deaths of the late Deputy Council member Mataia Visesio on the eve of the 2003 independence celebration and Faumuina Vaitagutu Anapapa, who died a day after this years celebration.
 
 
 

Copyright Event Polynesia Ltd. 2005
 

 

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