Reality kicks in after all the fun

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

And so is well that ends well. With the 55th Independence Day celebrations winding up, come tomorrow life will be back to normal for many of us who would have thoroughly enjoyed the extra long weekend.

And how time flies when we are having fun. 

Certainly there was plenty of fun during the past few days. What with the independence festivities, the different gatherings of all sorts across the country, the Super Rugby game, the 10th Anniversary of the Savai’i Crossing, Bill English’s official visit and the Life Con Explosion among many other activities, Apia was the place to be. 

If anything, the vibes were great; the festive atmosphere was wonderful there was lots of life. Look, we all need a little break now and then. There are times when we just need to let loose, celebrate and rejoice with people who are rejoicing. Which is precisely what has been  happening in Samoa for the past few days.

But every good thing comes to an end. 

Yesterday, Prime Minister Bill English returned to New Zealand where he truly belongs. The Blues and Reds have done the same – probably never to return after Friday night’s poor crowd out at the Apia but that’s a story for another day.

Today we find we are back where we started. And those perennial problems we tend to ignore during moments of celebrations are still there, staring us in the face as a reminder that this is reality.

On the streets of Apia yesterday, the beggars were back to annoy and beg, street vendors were as active as ever and yes we were reminded that this is the challenge of our time.

The truth is that desperation knows no end. It does not differentiate between people, their ages and where they come from. Stuck in a rut called poverty and want, people will do anything to survive.

You see when people see begging as a way to survive, you really have to worry.

Especially in a country where more and more young children are resorting to a life of wanton crime and hawking cheap goods on the streets to get by. 

This is not normal. It shouldn’t be.

And that’s what we should remind ourselves today. The growing number of beggars and street vendors is not normal. It should be a wake up call to our leaders.

Come to think, this is why we find it absolutely ridiculous that this government continues to waste millions to pay political appointments and ignore the cost of abuse and corruption. 

This is price people pay. More and more people will resort to a life of begging to get by. The images of children harassing total strangers on the streets at all sorts of hours to make a tala were never part of the Samoan landscape until recently.

They are images to be ashamed of. They are images from third world country where people are living in slums, eating dust and dirt. 

Yet that’s happening here in Samoa today. 

Take a trip to Vaitele, Taufusi and Fugalei - yes folks you don’t have to go far - they are right smack in the middle of the Apia Township as if they’re there to remind us about reality.

In complete contrast, down at the car park of the government building and other government houses, the line up of vehicles being used by government officials is so impressive you cannot help but marvel.

Judging from such a show of luxury, abuse and elaborate spending, it’s not hard to guess where the focus and priorities of this government are. That’s anything but the people. 

We know this is depressing talk, especially after such a high from the independence. We know we’ve said this time and time again but this is what’s happening in this country and we cannot ignore it.

Now, think of the high reputation the government has raised Samoa to both regionally and internationally. 

Think of Samoa’s economic success story that was unrivalled in the Pacific a few years ago. They are achievements to be proud of.

But there are worrying elements we cannot ignore. The gap between the rich and poor continues to grow ever so widely.

The truth is that among some Samoans today the standard of living is unacceptably poor. All you have to do is read the Village Voice to find that what they are going through is heartbreaking. Given their meager resources, people can hardly cope with the demands of everyday life. Their hearts are crying out, yearning for someone out there to hear them. Let’s not ignore them. 

Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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