The Editor of the Samoa Observer, Mata’afa Keni Lesa, has been presented with the prestigious United Nations A.H. Boerma Award during a ceremony in Rome. The award recognises his work to address food security and agriculture challenges faced by Small Island Developing States. The scroll reads that Mata’afa is being honoured for “his strong ability as an Editor to communicate complicated issues through an accessible writing style has successfully captured the attention of the general public.”
This is his acceptance speech:
F.A.O Director General Tagaloa José Graziano da Silva
Prime Ministers, Ministers and Government leaders
Samoa’s Honorary Consul in Italy, Papali’i Giovanni Caferelli
Fellow Award Winners
Ladies and gentlemen,
Talofa lava. I am honoured and humbled to be standing before you all tonight as a recipient of this prestigious award in this great city of Rome.
At the outset, I want to make it absolutely clear this award is not about me.
I am a product of a family, villages, churches and a nation. I represent a journey, a people’s dreams and aspirations and our common yearning to be the difference and to make a difference.
Tonight, I am proud to represent the people of Samoa on this global stage. So I speak as a Samoan, a son and a chief of the Pacific Islands and a teller of our stories. We have wonderful stories the world should hear being told through our own lenses.
It is a privilege to be recognised in this way.
This Award though is about the work our team at the Samoa Observer does. It is about the leadership and vision of our Editor-in-Chief, Gatoaitele Savea and Publisher Muliaga Jean Malifa. They are true pioneers, I have been blessed to have learnt from the best and I am proud to speak to you tonight on their behalf.
It is for the dedication of our entire team in Samoa, from our reporters, layout team, accounts section, printers, advertising and sales department, online team to our advertisers and the companies who support us every day. It is about the loyalty, interest and support shown by all our readers, thousands of them in Samoa and around the world, to the stories of our people we tell.
Away from the Samoa Observer, this award is about the collective effort of the government, private sector, civil societies and organisations like F.A.O. to improve people’s livelihoods.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is no secret that the world is teetering on the brink of a food crisis. You’ve seen the statistics, we know the truth. I will not bore you with the details tonight because I know I am speaking to the converted.
Suffice to say, Samoa and small Pacific countries are not immune from the impact. It is undeniable that we will be among the first countries to suffer given our isolation, vulnerability to natural disasters, demographics and economic prospects – or the lack of.
Which is why it’s imperative that we are at the forefront of efforts pushing for food security to be prioritised by the nations of the world. Food security, which ultimately leads to poverty and desolation, are real.
This week in Rome during the 40th session of the F.A.O. Conference, leaders from around the world are gathering here – with many of them here tonight – in an attempt to do their part.
Let me say that the media has a critical role to play.
We do this by not only highlighting the bitter truth, struggles and the challenges, but by being objective and accurate in what we do, we also hope to find a common ground where all parties can work towards a better Samoa, a better Pacific region and ultimately a better world.
Indeed, everyone has a role to play. You have a part; I have a job to do.
And it is in doing what you do best and what I can offer, using our God-given gifts, that we can find workable solutions towards a brighter tomorrow. We need to. Our children are depending on it.
Tonight, let’s acknowledge God’s sovereignty, his wisdom, and great plan – which includes the honour of me standing before you this evening.
I want to acknowledge my beautiful wife Laufa who is here with us tonight, my girls Solania and Tofigaonafanua Lesa, for always being patient when daddy comes home late – just about every night of the week.
I pay tribute to my parents, the late Levao Alopopo Ramese and Sieni Mata’afa, uncles, aunties, brothers, sisters, cousins and my families in Salamumu/Saleaula, Papa Sataua, Nu’u, Tulaele, Sato’alepai and all over the world for your prayers and support.
I thank my church at the Apia Harvest Centre for your prayers.
I want to thank the F.A.O. Office in Samoa for the secret nomination. You sure did an excellent job in keeping it a secret.
Again, I want to extend a big fa’amalo to my team at the Samoa Observer. You are incredible.
And lastly to the Director General Tagaloa Jose Graziano, your team at F.A.O. Rome and all over the world, I want to say we appreciate the hard work that you do.
There is no doubt there is a lot more work to be done but in moments like tonight, we from time to time need to pause, reflect and celebrate our achievements to revitalise and prepare us to address the challenges awaiting tomorrow.
To all the other Award winners, Congratulations!
God bless, have a great night and Tofa Soifua.