The first independence celebration in front of the government building at Matagialalua received a pass mark yesterday from thousands in attendance.
Not only that the location made sense logistically, it was on time and it was not like some celebrations of the past, which took forever.
The commemoration of Samoa’s 55th Flag Day was a glorious occasion celebrated under equally magnificent conditions. The sun shone brightly as Samoans of all ages and from different walks of lives congregate for the occasion.
Many of them – including young students – had gathered on Beach Road as early as 4am to line up for the parade. By day break, the street was a cocktail of different colours. It was a sight to behold.
In front of the government building, the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, embraced the occasion.
“Today is Independence Day,” he said. “Today we have come together to remember our forbears who fought so hard to reclaim our Independence.”
His Highness Tui Atua, Her Highness Filifilia Tamasese and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi welcomed the distinguished guests prior to the actual ceremony.
Among them was New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Bill English, his wife Dr. Mary English, the Ulu Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Siopili Perez and Taase Perez; American Samoa Governor, Lolo Matalasi and First Lady Cynthia Malala Moliga, and diplomatic corps.
The raising of the flag was carried out by the Member of the Council of Deputies, Tuimaleali’ifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II. A 21-gun salute was performed by the firing of cannons.
During his special address, His Highness Tui Atua referred to the custom of our forbears that when a special moment was forthcoming, they would revert to modes of prayer, fasting and dream dialogues for insight.
“I want to share with you the insights and perspectives gained through my prayers, fasting and dream dialogues in preparation for today,” he said.
“We come together to remember their dreams and hopes, and to reflect on how far we have come.
“If we were to ask, why did they seek to reclaim our Independence? The short answer would be: “Because Independence is our tofi”. Tofi refers to our inheritance and heritage. It speaks about identity and self-hood.”
Tofi literally means to apportion. It is connected to the concepts “matāfaioi” and “faamatāfai”, which refer to a responsibility for using a portion or portions of land specifically for planting and harvesting food crops.
“These terms recognise that land is a key part of our tofi and using it wisely is hard work” (read His Highness Tui Atua’s address in full).