“Rudeness” was how one Leone Village performer described Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s action when he got up during their performance at Samoa’s 54th Independence Day celebration and ordered the group to stop, as they were way over the time limit, which was 20 minutes.
This and other similar comments were made to Samoa News when the performing group arrived at the wharf in Fagaotogo on the Lady Naomi.
Accompanying the Leone village on the boat was Leone High Chief Fai’ivae Iuli Alex Godinet who confirmed that people were disappointed at what was displayed by the Prime Minister.
Nonetheless they respectfully heeded Tuilaepa’s request and ended their performance even though they were not finished.
Fai’ivae told Samoa News, they were under the impression that because they were “special guests” at Samoa’s Independence celebration, they would have some leeway, but this was not the case.
Although some of the performers were not happy, Fai’ivae said they had to honor the request, because after all “we were only guests.”
According to Fai’ivae, Samoa’s Independence Day committee approached them when they first arrived in Samoa and told them that they had to perform their entire program for the committee and that was the first time they heard that the “Pese & Siva” was supposed to be only 20 minutes.
Fai’ivae stated that their invitation, which was made directly to the Leone Village, was for them to perform their Pese & Siva and bring their fautasi boat. Later, the P.M. decided there would be no Fautasi Race this year.
“There were not any other instructions as to the time limit, and there was no way we could contain our entire siva and pese within 20 minutes. But when we were told, we tried to accommodate their requirements.” Fai’ivae said he told the Committee, “We will do the best we can and if you want to cut us off at the stadium, you can cut us off.”
“But all along I thought we were guests and we were representing American Samoa and also with the presence of Governor Lolo (Matalasi Moliga) I honestly thought that we would be allowed to go through with our performance, but apparently not and it was Tuilaepa himself who stopped us.”
Some members of the performing group told Samoa News that prior to this the Master of Ceremonies several times had called that they were over their time limit.
Fai’ivae pointed out that the P.M.’s action showed a lack of respect for the Governor, but Fai’ivae in the end thanked Samoa’s Prime Minister for the opportunity extended to Leone, despite the “commotion.”
He said overall, it was a great day for Leone and that their village is thankful that they were able to perform in Samoa.
According to Faaivae, some of the people in Samoa, were not happy with Leone’s performance being cut short “and I agree, we shouldn’t be treated that way, especially since during our Flag Day, villages from Samoa who come to us, we have never treated them this way, there’s no time limitation.
“We let them do whatever they want, but when Leone arrived in Samoa, the committee was hounding us, demanding that we conduct our entire pese and siva for the committee.”
Fai’ivae said after repeated requests from the committee they agreed and stated, “It’s good too, the committee will screen our pese and siva and if they don’t like it we will pack up and go back home, simple as that.”
He said a majority of the 300+ Leone performers were not happy but we had not choice, “it’s Samoa’s Independence Day and it’s their rules.” Asked if there were Sua presentations, Fai’ivae told Samoa News that was done afterwards and there was no complaint about the time utilized for that.
Fai’ivae expressed gratitude to Governor Lolo who for the first time attended Samoa’s Independence Day. In the past the celebration fell on the same day as an American Samoa high school graduation and the governor through the years opted for the graduations.
He said the governor came and visited their village where they were camping out at the Catholic Church in Moamoa, which he thanked for being great hosts and they “now have become family.”