Third time lucky
Many candidates who contest the General Election usually give up on the first or second attempt especially when they fail.
But for the new Member for Palauli West, Afoa Amituanai Faleulu Mauli, failure is not in his vocabulary, thus the reason why he kept running until he was successful last Friday. In his case, it was third time lucky.
“When I first ran (in the election) I was still very much occupied with my business and family commitments,” said Afoa. “I gave it a go and when I didn’t make it I thought life goes on and I will try again.
“The second time I ran to see if people will accept me (to be their M.P) and unfortunately they weren’t (ready). Win or lose, I was still okay – I still had the business and other commitments.”
On his third attempt, Afoa said he had a good feeling. He had done his bit for his family and now he was ready to fully commit to the role.
“It was a blessing when I didn’t win the last two elections as I had more time with my family and to commit to my business,” he said.
This time, his children are grown and are old enough to look after the businesses while he concentrates on politics.
“I am extremely grateful that I have been given the trust of my constituency.”
It is no secret that Afoa is a successful businessman. The owner of the Tatiana Motels and Apartments as well as the famous R.S.A. nightclub, Afoa is a hardworking man.
But he has not forgotten his humble beginnings. Born and raised in Sinamoga, the M.P was not born with wealth or money.
“I came from a poor family where my parents grew up in Savai’i,” said Afoa.
“They moved to Apia to find better lives for us in terms of education and my father (late Mauli Alesana) spent all of his small earnings as a labourer to pay for my fees and to give me a good education.
“He believed education is the key to success and he worked hard to make sure I got a good education and now I am able to give back…The best gift my poor father gave me was my education which enabled me to succeed in all the work and business and finally, this election.”
Afoa, however, had to make many sacrifices and one important decision he does not regret was giving up a scholarship from the government in 1972 to further his studies at Auckland University.
“I was responsible for bringing home money to care for him (father) and my young siblings,” said Afoa. “You can’t go study when your father is sick and your siblings are still young with no one to care for them.
“It was a hard road to success and I know how it feels to be poor and growing up with almost nothing…my father was not a well-known man.”
After declining to take the scholarship, Afoa managed to find work in a bank and for four years he worked and studied with the Samoa Institute of Accounting.
He became a qualified accountant in 1974 and later left the bank to work in a Special Project where he was a Chief Accountant.
The project dealt with roads on the east coast, the south and the national hospital.
After that, he signed a contract to work as a Financial Accountant at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji where he spent three years.
As destiny would have it, Afoa was again offered the opportunity to study at Auckland University where he received a Bachelor of Commerce and became a member of New Zealand’s Institute of Accountants.
Away from accounting, Afoa is the proud owner of one of the oldest nightclubs in Samoa. However, what everyone doesn't know, is that the nightclub was an initiative to revive the R.S.A. building.
Many years ago in 1990, after cyclones Ofa and Val had run down the place, it needed to be repaired. Afoa heard about the search for help and he offered to repair it himself and the rest is history.
So why did he invest in a nightclub instead of a restaurant or something else?
According to Afoa the family used to run a bar called the Lalaga and he found that people and guests from overseas loved music, dancing and entertainment.
“With that perspective I thought this is the way to go about earning money to sustain R.S.A,” said Afoa. “So we created that atmosphere for family and guests from overseas to enjoy themselves and the usual saying was 'if you haven’t been to R.S.A. you haven't been to Samoa'. It is a place where people from all walks of life go and we maintain that tradition.”
Where there is a nightclub there is definitely music and R.S.A. has contributed to the music industry in Samoa.
Having had its own band, Afoa was proud to say that the nightclub produced Samoan music reviving it to a level that it was heard around the globe.
“Not only did we entertain them we produced music to become classical music and people will remember Samoa because of the R.S.A. band,” he said.
“The band is still there but the original members have migrated overseas but we maintained the band with other people. I’m happy I contributed to the music industry of our country.”
Afoa was in the Board of Directors and Chairman for the Samoa Tourism Authority for the last four years before he resigned to run in the election.
He hails from the villages of Salailua and Taga. Married with three children, Afoa now resides at Tanugamanono.