There is a proverb that once heard, is unforgettable … or it should be.
It asks, “What is the most important thing in the world?
The answer as you see is repeated for emphasis, “It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.’
In Maori, it sounds just as compelling.
‘He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata!’
We suggest to you that many of us in our country particularly our church and government leaders, have either forgotten this truth, or perhaps never subscribed to it in the first place.
And many of us have meekly continued to accept that they know best.
A look around our country shows we have this fixation of erecting monstrous buildings.
Many are used by government and are named for politicians so it is patently obvious who they are glorifying.
And many of them are built with money begged, borrowed and in some cases stolen, as a supposed tribute to the glory of God.
The front page of our paper today features two very important stories for very different reasons.
One is in relation to the building of a multi-million tala church which is nearing completion after millions were poured into it.
Then when costs escalated beyong the estimated millions, a huge loan from money contributed by the taxpayers of Samoa, was procured to finish it off.
Today’s story is how discussions are now underway to pull down trees surrounding an iconic turtle pool nearby, so that the building can be viewed by traffic travelling along the road, to and from the airport.
So it is not enough to have a huge, outrageously, expensive church building for large numbers of people to worship in, but it is also apparently important that everyone else gets to see it?
Is the church built to glorify God or is there some other purpose?
The other front page story is about the escalating number of child vendors, in this case, a young girl who lives in a subvillage of Salelologa, Savaii.
It’s doubtful that she will ever have the chance to do a drive by and see this amazing multi-million tala building on the island of Upolu.
And what would she think if she did?
You see, her usual day starts at 3am when she walks to Salelologa to sell what she can at the market to help her sisters support their family of six. It ends when she has sold everything and then she heads home at night, tired and hungry to get ready to do it all over again the next day.
With her father in jail and her Mother is at home just one child, her six year old brother still goes to school. This young girl and her sisters finished their schooling after Year 6.
At the age of 13 she has already found out that the world can be a dangerous place. Oral abuse and offers of money for favours is something she is learning about while barely a teenager.
Sadly she is not alone.
Perhaps at the Malua conference in May, when celebrations are underway for the completion of the Jubilee Church, the congregation might spare a thought and make their next big project, something that benefits … the people.