An unexpected conclusion was witnessed by hundreds when the Olatoefuataina group ended their performance during the 54th Independence celebrations at Tuanaimato last week.
The group, made up largely of prisoners serving time at Tafagiata Prison, offered a traditional apology (ifoga) to the whole of Samoa.
For many members of the public, it was a heartfelt moment.
According to the spokesperson of the Samoa Prison Correctional Services, Sagaga Galu Frost said they used the opportunity for all the inmates to apologize to the whole of Samoa.
“Samoa is hurting because of the recent actions of some of the prisoners and our reputation is being ruined,” said Sagaga.
Sagaga said they sought the approval from the Commissioner as well as the Ministers to use the opportunity to apologize to Samoa and to those who have been affected.
“I have seen changes in them; I just hope that what they did that day will sink into their minds that they are not only hurting other people, but themselves.”
As for the feedback from the public, Sagaga said many people thanked the Ministry for an outstanding performance by the Olatoefuataina.
“It was an emotional feeling to us the staff because we didn’t think that the government would react the way they did that day.”
Sagaga said he felt it when two members of parliament accepted the apology made by elderly members of the Olatoefuataina group.
“The feedback from the public tells us that they have accepted the apology offered by the group.”
Sagaga said there were 150 prisoners who were part of the dance group together with a few officers who performed that day. Their uniforms were funded out of prison funds.
More than 3,000 tala was given by members of the public as well as a 3,000 tala cheque from the government.
With that money the management and staff of the S.P.C.S. has decided to put on a Sports Day for all the inmates.
That is to show them that Samoa appreciates them but that they need to learn from their time spent in prison to make a change in their lives.
Sagaga thanked the Independence Committee for inviting them to perform during the 54th Independence celebrations.
He also thanked His Highness the Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, members of parliament and the people of Samoa for accepting their apology.
“Their support and their prayers will help them change and I am hoping that this ifoga will make those who are in prison, think twice before reoffending.