To mark the 40th Anniversary of the Samoa Observer, a series of selected articles printed over the last 40 years will be re-published in the next two weeks, to show our readers the issues covered by this newspaper over the years and the personalities that made the headlines.
First Published: Sunday 08th August 2004
Well, the Pacific Islands Forum has ended, but Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is just beginning.
The man everyone has been talking about arrived from America by private jet yesterday morning.
He’s rich, famous, the grandson of Samoan wrestling champ Pita Maivia, and as a one-time world wrestling champion himself, he’s Samoa’s hero too.
In terms of achievement in sport and entertainment, “The Rock” ranks among those other Samoan heroes such as Bryan Williams, Papali’i Peter Fatialofa, Michael Jones, Tana Umaga, Brian Lima, to name a few.
They’re the ones every Samoan boy wants to meet and shake their hands.
As “The Rock” is going to be in Samoa for a holiday, there’s plenty of time to meet him if his security guards are good enough to allow you near.
Accompanied by his mother Mrs Ata Maivia Johnson and the famous Honolulu-based Samoan personality, Afimutasi Gus Hannemann, “The Rock” is visiting for the first time since he left when he was a young boy.
So this trip to him is naturally one spiced with a mixture of curiosity and uncertainty.
He’ll be racking his brains trying to figure out whether the hospitality being extended to him everywhere he goes is truly authentic.
Well, he should relax. And take for granted instead that in Samoa, every gesture of hospitality is authentic. And he’s become a household name in this country.
Ever since he entered big time wrestling and became World Champion, every Samoan boy has been discussing “The Rock’s” every wrestling move in elaborate detail with serious admiration.
Grown-ups too have been following his career on the small screen with addictive loyalty.
And since he’s gone Hollywood appearing in such flicks as “Mummy Returns,” “Scorpion King,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” and “Walking Tall”, his local fan club has continued to grow.
Word is that his next film “Spy Hunter” is to be released next year.
Then there’s “Doom”, the popular video game being adapted into a movie feature in which he’s been touted to play the leading role. And from this point, other opportunities appear promising.
Tomorrow evening, “The Rock” is hosting dinner at the University of Samoa fale to raise funds for the Home of the Aged at Mapuifagalele.
He will make the presentation himself.
It would be interesting to know though if “The Rock” remembers how tough it was to get to his grandfather’s home at Matautu, Falealili, in those days.
That was when travelling from Apia to Falealili took the whole day from morning to night.
You had two choices. Either you took the bus westward to Leulumoega, then turned inland climbing uphill to Lefaga, then downward towards Siumu, and then along the Falealili.
Or you cut from Apia across the Cross Island Road through Vailima, Tiavi, then descending at Siumu and on to Falealili.
Either way, the experience is best forgotten. As it crawled along boulder-laden, vehicle-wrecking roads bulldozers had given up on and abandoned, the drive was pure torture.
Today as he drives along tar-sealed roads and gets to Falealili in just an hour, “The Rock” is likely to believe those harsh images of the past are just figs of his imagination.
May he and his entourage enjoy a pleasant holiday in Samoa.