Never a dull moment in paradise

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

There is no such thing as a sleepy Samoa.

While the pace of life in this slice of paradise is certainly slower than other places near and far, there is definitely never a dull moment.

Especially if you’ve been following the drama on the pages of your newspaper for the past few days. 

What with the government getting up to some very interesting shenanigans including fights it might never win, the stuff that has been unfolding within the church and the behaviour of certain individuals has been interesting to follow to say the least. 

Let’s take a quick recap. It started on Tuesday with the story titled “Stigmata saga drama.” The story is well known. The drama takes place at Falelatai in connection to claims by a young woman that she is carrying the marks of Jesus Christ’s suffering.

On Tuesday we were told that not only the Elders of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) have stood by their decision to strip the pastoral role from Reverend Opapo Soanai, paramount chief, Misa Iuli Anae and others found themselves banned from Falelatai.

When Misa Anae was approached for a comment, he said he was not aware of the reasons behind the decision. The next day, we found out that it was a bad response by Misa Anae.

That’s because the Mayor of Matautu Falelatai, Misa Nanai Mulifusi Taulia, visited the Samoa Observer and refuted the claim, saying Misa Anae knew exactly why he was banned. And he wasn’t just banned apparently.

 “The other thing that you should know is that he has been banished from Matautu Falelatai forever,” Misa Nanai said. “He is not allowed to set foot in Falelatai anymore, and I am here to set the record straight.”

He added: “For your information, our village has been quiet for so long about how we suffered under Anae’s leadership. He changed a lot of things, which belong to the village. The people of Matautu were unhappy for a long time, but they couldn’t do anything about Anae’s leadership.”

That was until now. Obviously there is a lot more to come about this.

What’s interesting though from an outsider’s perspective is that at the core of this dispute sits the church. It appears that chiefs, depending on which side they are on, have picked their Pastors and they are willing to stand by them at whatever cost. 

In any case, it’s a sad development to think that the church is supposed to stand for peace and yet the peaceful existence in this particular part of Samoa has been disturbed because of it. What will happen next, we will wait and see.

But just when you think all the action was happening at Falelatai, down the road at Fasito’o-tai, a dispute of a different type was unfolding. This time, in the midst of it was the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupai, who had apparently been fined by an unhappy Village Council. 

But extracting information about what was happening was a challenge.

Even the Minister’s lips were sealed.

“I’m sorry I cannot comment on the issue because we have already discussed it in the meeting last week Saturday,” he told the Samoa Observer. “The matais have already made their decision that nobody is allowed to speak about the issue to anyone of the media hence why I will not comment on that.”

What we found out though was that he was ordered by the Village Council to pay a substantial fine following a dispute between the Minister and the Village Council over what he was supposed to present as o’o. According to a source, the Village Council became angry when the Minister allegedly claimed the projects funded by the government are all part of his o’o.

When the Samoa Observer visited Fasito’o, none of the chiefs would discuss the matter on the record. One of them confirmed the dispute but said it was an internal matter. 

“We had a meeting last week Saturday and this matter was discussed in our village fono,” he said. “Our pulenu’u was not happy because the issue was supposed to be an internal matter.

 “It was never meant to be out in the public. This is why we are looking for the person who contacted your office about what happened. We want to find that person so we can knock some senses into his skull to correct his/her way about calling the newspaper.”

Well maybe someone should “knock” some senses into this man’s head.

Whether it’s an internal village matter or not, we are talking about a public figure and a Minister of state whose activities are followed and scrutinised closely by the media, who are supposed to be eyes and ears of the public. 

If he has been fined, it is a legitimate story. Besides, we are talking about the Minister of Communications. Neeed we say more?

Now speaking of openness, one man has certainly had enough of being quiet. 

He is none other than former Reverend, Opapo Soana’i, who has spilled the beans about some of things happening within the biggest denomination in Samoa.

“There are other pastors who are doing wrong things and yet they are not doing anything about it,” he said about the Elders Committee. “As for me, I didn’t commit a crime and yet I have been punished.”

Well we all know the story about Opapo. 

Suffice to say, he is a man loaded with information he has been waiting to share.

 “If we want to talk about the truth and honesty here, then I am not afraid to mention some of those whom I believe are not doing the right thing here,” he said. 

 “I am not going to mention his name but he went and beat up a student at Malua. He wasn’t penalized, there was no decision against him,” said Opapo.

That wasn’t all. He reminded that the church rules dictate that once someone becomes a faifeau, they cannot work somewhere else.

 “But it has been almost two years now since another faifeau has been working on his construction company,” he said. “The faifeau and his wife both work for this company from Monday to Friday. 

“If this is how pastors behave and how Elders are handling these cases, then why should I want to go back to being a faifeau if they are behaving like this?”

 “There are a lot of things people don’t know. But now that I am no longer a faifeau, I can freely speak about anything. 

“I can talk and tell people what they need to know because a lot of them are the ones giving money to the church and they need to know these things.”

Wow… how refreshing! 

But then again, why wait until now? 

Isn’t it a sin when you know what’s right and you don’t do anything about it? In any case, how many other pastors are there like Opapo who are bursting at the seams with little secrets they want to tell?

The point is that this is certainly an interesting time in paradise. It is a time defined by challenges, tests of faith and character and some extremely bizarre developments.

Now speaking of bizarre, the one that takes the cup is the case of the transgender woman who beat our weightlifter to win gold in Australia last week. 

The story has made headlines all over the world – and so it should.

Yesterday, the Samoan athlete in the middle of the story broke her silence.

“I felt that it was unfair because all in all, Laurel is still a male even though he already had an operation to change his gender,” said Iuniarra Sipaia.

“It only changed the physical side but her emotions, her strength and everything is still a male. So I felt that it was unfair because we all know a woman’s strength is nowhere near a male’s strength no matter how hard we train.”

Sipaia is correct. 

In the normal world, the woman who beat Sipaia is a man. Men do not compete with women. Men should compete with men, just as Sipaia deserves to compete with another woman. 

Now, regardless of what scientific spin they try to put on it, the fact is the New Zealand weightlifter is a man. If he smells like a man, looks like a man and lifts like a man he must surely be a man. 

Folks just because you feel like a woman does not make you one.

Do people not care about the truth anymore? Or has the world become so politically correct these days that the truth plays second fiddle to being unpopular?

The only solution is perhaps that maybe it’s time they consider adding a third category to these international sporting competitions.  They should have male, female and the undecided. End of story. 

Oh dear… 

Alright that’s enough for now. 

Let’s look forward to the weekend for a breather. And thank God it’s Friday! 

Have a great one everyone!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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