And so here we are once again. Today is a moment of celebration, a time to pause, reflect and reminisce about the past 54 years of Samoa as an Independent country.
In doing so, we remember that when the leaders of this nation took this path in the years leading up to 1962, they were the first in this part of the world. Which means that they needed to be men and women of true wisdom and vision because there was simply no turning back.
They needed to be pioneers with lots of courage and determination to see that their vision succeeded. And they were.
How do we know? It’s simple really. Looking back at our journey as a nation, knowing the lack of resources and the absence of technology they had to work with, the quality, vision and the great scholarship we can learn from our original Constitution tells us that our forebears were indeed ahead of their time.
We say this with the knowledge that our Constitution holds the wisdom and dreams of both our forebears not just for their time but for the generations of Samoans to follow – including all of us.
And as we grabble with many of the challenges staring us in the face, daring us to come up with answers that are relevant and legitimate, we cannot ignore but marvel at the amazing wisdom with which our forebears had. It is such wisdom that allowed us to take the path that we are celebrating as a nation today.
Without such wisdom, it is safe to say we would not be where we are. There would be no celebration and we would instead find lawlessness and anarchy in a position to rule us all.
Alas, that is not the case. Today, as law-abiding citizens of this country “founded on God” we are celebrating our freedom and our respect of the law that our Parliament has made for all of us to be guided by.
Which it is pivotal that as we celebrate and rejoice, we must always tread carefully when it comes to the issue of the Constitution. In the words of our Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, we must be cautious “lest we tread carelessly on those dreams.”
There is absolutely no doubt in our minds that while our age as a politically independent state is relatively young, we know we have come a long way as a nation and many things have changed.
Look at where the nation is gathering this morning to celebrate this one event that used to be a grand celebration to behold on these shores?
And look at how the celebration has changed over the years so that today the party is missing some of the most important ingredients that made it so memorable back in the days?
Perhaps we are beginning a new legacy that the leaders of today feel that the practices of yesteryears are no longer relevant?
But on this day, let us be reminded about what matters. As we celebrate, let us pay tribute to our forebears and the path they carved out for Samoa with their blood, tears and sweat. We must never lose sight of their struggles.
Speaking of struggles, let us be reminded about the original freedom house at Mulinu’u that was demolished a few years ago with the promise of a monument that we still haven’t seen. That building where the first flag was raised in 1962 epitomised the story of Samoa’s journey to independence. And yet it has been abandoned today – along with the Malae o le fa’autugatagi a Samoa - for a hockey field in Tuana’imato. We hope this is only a temporary measure.
Today let us both celebrate the achievements of the past 54 years and remember all the efforts and sacrifices made to ensure peace and good governance in our nation.
Speaking of good governance, let us pledge to do all we can – including government leaders – to eliminate the festering corruption that is robbing the poor of their rightful share, preventing true development and peace from being achieved in this country.
We are referring to countless publicly-funded reports of government corruption and abuse at the highest level being exposed here and there. Without the need to go into details, we know these reports tell stories of collusion and fraud, questionable use of public funds, outright negligence on the part of public servants entrusted with caring for public resources and yet both Parliament and the government has remained rather silent about. We’ve said this before and we will say it again; if Parliament and the Government do not honour and be seen to be abiding by the law that they themselves have made, why should the rest bother?
On that note, we want to congratulate the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, the government, the opposition and all Samoans for this milestone we are celebrating today.
Happy 54th Independence Day Samoa, God bless!