Rejoicing with our brothers and sisters in American Samoa

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 07 January 2017, 12:00AM

As a people, Samoans and American Samoans are one. We share the same language, similar culture and ancestors. When it comes to successes, we rejoice together. We also mourn as a family during the hard times.

At the beginning of this year, there is certainly a lot to be celebrated across the waters in American Samoa. And since blood is thicker than water, it wasn’t surprising to see such a strong representation from Independent Samoa in American Samoa when the territory welcomed their reappointed leaders.

During a ceremony dubbed “The People’s Inauguration” at the Malaeoletalu in Fagatogo, America Samoa applauded the return of their Governor, Lolo Matalasi Moliga and his Lieutenant Governor, Lemanu Peleti Mauga, following their re-election last year. 

Samoa was also well represented. The Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, the Masiofo, Her Highness Filifilia Tamasese, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and other delegates from Samoa were there.

Speaking during the inauguration, Prime Minister Tuilaepa relayed a message of congratulations from the people of Samoa to Governor Lolo and his Deputy Lemanu. Having led his H.R.P.P to another landslide victory last year, Tuilaepa knows plenty about winning elections. Which is why his advice to the territory’s leaders was important.

According to the Prime Minister, Governor Lolo and Lt. Governor Peleti’s reelection is a “reflection of the successful developments that you and your government have delivered in the past four years to serve the needs of the people of American Samoa.”   

From Samoa’s standpoint, Tuilaepa said his government “is determined to continue our closer social and economic relations and is keen on fortifying our partnership to collectively respond to the challenges we, as a small Island developing states, currently face.”

Lastly, he urged them to approach the future with “unwavering faith that our Lord God will continue to lead and direct our paths towards prosperity, peace and harmony.”   

As second term leaders, there is no doubt Lolo and Lemanu have earned the trust of American Samoans. But it would not have been easy. The journey they had taken to where they are today was fraught with countless challenges and difficulties. It’s a journey that would’ve required plenty of sacrifices, tears and blood.

Indeed, as a territory of the United States of America, American Samoa has had its fair share of challenges. But then what country doesn’t? Even the biggest and the wealthiest of countries still face challenges. It’s part of life.

What’s important is that the people of American Samoa – like independent Samoa – have been able to grow and flourish in an environment of peace and political stability. 

Unlike other countries near and far where lives are wasted by strife and war, American Samoa has remained relatively peaceful.

Of course they have problems, plenty in fact – just like we do. But that’s why strong leadership is required. That’s why people like Governor Lolo and his Lieutenant Lemanu were elected into office, not just once but twice. 

The people of American Samoa believe they are capable of fixing those problems. 

There is no doubt that one of the biggest challenges of their leadership is finding jobs. With one of the canneries shutting shop, Lolo and Lemanu know they have got plenty of work to do. There are other issues including finding ways to address the Samoan culture becoming a burden on families, the territory’s future political status; developing a sustainable economy and dealing with educational reforms.  

In 2013 during Governor Lolo’s maiden address, he called for a united American Samoa.

“Let us stand together, let us make the change together, the change starts from you, in your family, in your village, in your church, your business, in the government and in our island,” he said then. “We are united in our purpose, for the wisdom of the past providing a clear pathway to our future.”

This week, Governor Lolo invoked the famous words of John F. Kennedy.

 Said he: “Let us start [this] new administrative term together affirming our collective commitment that we will adopt President John F. Kennedy’s call to ‘ask not what the Government can do for you, but rather ask what you can do for your government’.

 “We are mindful of the responsibility, inherited in these leadership roles that we hold, to ensure that we build a future of long-lasting opportunities for growth and development of our Territory.”

We couldn’t agree more. Leadership comes with plenty of responsibilities. 

Which brings us to Lt. Gov. Lemanu’s thoughts.

Said he: “The only way to improve American Samoa’s stance against the unexpected swells and challenges of tomorrow is for us to persevere and work together while unceasingly serving our people with both dignity and integrity.”

Beautiful, wise words. Words like dignity and integrity are words every leader - including our leaders in independent Samoa should aspire to. 

We say this because what’s the point if they are just empty rhetoric to please the ear? 

Congratulations Governor Lolo Moliga and Lt. Gov. Lemanu for your re-election. We wish you and the people of American Samoa God’s blessings!

In meantime, have a peaceful weekend Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 07 January 2017, 12:00AM

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