Well there goes another year. And as we embrace the beginning of 2016, three days old to be precise, we stand back and marvel at just how quick time flies.
Folks, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to step back, take a breather to re-vitalise and re-energise. With these public holidays giving many of us a much-needed breather, sometimes we wish they would last longer.
But what we’ve learnt over the years is that these special days disappear as quickly as they arrive so that here we are today on the cusp of another exciting 12 months ahead.
Whether we are prepared for it or not is irrelevant as time waits for no man. Which means that whether we like it or not, come tomorrow for most us, we will have to knuckle down and get into our work. Pronto.
It is for us as much as it is for our families and our nation.
Speaking of work, before we look at some of the big events of 2016, we want to firstly acknowledge with gratitude the work of people who toiled throughout the public holidays tirelessly to allow us to celebrate.
We are talking about the Police officers all over Samoa, the doctors and the nurses at the hospitals throughout the country. These people would have had to sacrifice time with their families and loved ones for the call of duty.
But our thank you does not stop here.
We acknowledge the hardworking crew of the Samoa Shipping Corporation who keep the travelling public moving between Savai’i, Upolu and vice versa. Sometimes we take for granted the work these public servants do but it is times like these when we come to accept that without them, inter-island travel would be a nightmare. Indeed, people like Dunmore, Fepulea’i Sosaia, the sailors, security and all the officers deserve recognition for their work.
Let’s not forget those supermarkets, stores, hotels, restaurants, bars, bus, taxi drivers and all service providers that remained opened during the holidays. We thank you for providing such essential services and doing so with a smile.
We also want to thank the Metrological Office, the staff of the Disaster Management Office, the Electric Power Corporation workers, Samoa Water Authority and all public servants who were on call in case of emergencies.
We want you to know that the people of Samoa appreciate your service. You all play such a vital role in days like this and we are all indebted to you for your commitment and dedication.
Now looking ahead at the new year, we say there is nothing worst than when we tell ourselves we have moved forward when it fact we have backslidden.
In this country today, it’s hard to ignore that feeling. When you look around Samoa today one is immediately reminded of the saying that all that glitters is not gold.
There are so many new buildings and multi-million-tala projects but who do they belong to? Do they belong to our people or are we being swept from underneath our feet as a country by the sweetness of aid and lollipops being dangled out there to distract our attention?
Our land is under threat, our fish is being stolen as we look on, our sacred titles have become a joke in many respects and now our birthrights are being put on the market for the highest bidder.
What do we see in the future?
Will there be a future for our children?
Where do you see Samoa in 20 years?
What about 50 years? A hundred years?
For this newspaper, we’ve said this before and we will say it again. Our biggest hope for 2016 is that it will become the year when Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s government will not make any excuses but clean up the rot called corruption and abuse that has been going on behind closed doors for far too long inside some government ministries and corporations.
The time has come for the government to address these issues once and for all.
The government has been ignoring them, turning a blind eye to it hoping that it would somehow go away long enough.
Whereas the abuse of power continues to rob vulnerable members of the community of what is rightfully theirs in terms of education, health and basic social services, suffering and poverty are evident everywhere you look.
Far too many young people and not so young people in Samoa are resorting to a life of begging and hustling to merely get by.
Others have chosen to make Tafa’igata Prison their home since they find the reality of daily life in Samoa too difficult to handle.
One of the biggest events of this new year is the 2016 General Election. This is when you and me have the opportunity to exercise our rights to vote to make a difference. Don’t just vote for money and sweet promises that amount to nothing. Think about the real issues, make the connection between your suffering – or blessings – and the systems that are governing us and then vote from there. We accept that this is difficult in a country where connections and blood ties run deep.
But it can be done. So let us try and be optimistic. Happy 2016 and God bless Samoa.