This wonderful country we call home

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 02 June 2016, 12:00AM

The day is done and the memories remain. Whatever that is will differ between individuals depending on where you were yesterday when our proud nation paused to celebrate the occasion of the 54th Anniversary of our Independence.

And what a marvelous occasion it was – albeit a bit unusual - given it was held at a different location, bringing with it a different feel. 

There was one thing that cannot be denied. We are a nationalistic lot. We may have different views, beliefs and we might disagree on a few issues now and then but when it comes to matters that are close to the heart, such as the celebration of our ancestors fight to gain independence, we all share the same passion, vigour and pride.

Indeed, such showing of pride in thyself; culture and country was strongly evident especially in the confines of Tuana’imato where the national celebration centered yesterday. 

At the crack of dawn, thousands had gathered to take their place in the highlight of all independence celebrations, the march past. 

The marchers ranged from babies, children to seniors – many of them having made the trip there at 5am. Decked out in their different colours, they represented Samoa of the past, today and what this country would look like in the future. 

For many people, it was a wonderful opportunity to reacquaint with old friends and believe it or not some family members. For some, it was an opportunity to fly the flag once more for their old school or a group they once belonged with pride.

But the celebration was not confined to Tuanaimato. There were mini celebrations right across the country with reunions of sorts organised here and there. Families gathered, church groups united and so forth.

What’s most wonderful about these celebrations is that they are held in such remarkably peaceful conditions. While countries near and far are torn asunder by strife and wars, there is absolutely no doubt that here in Samoa there is peace  and much to celebrate. 

We say this because with all our problems, as a nation we have come a long way. Indeed despite our faults, we still enjoy a very peaceful existence, something many people around the world can only dream of. Which is why we should be deeply grateful every day we wake up to smell the fresh flowers and the aroma of life – and every time we get to celebrate independence. We shouldn’t take it for granted.

Indeed, there is plenty of life in Samoa for us to enjoy. Not only have we such beautiful and tranquil environment to enjoy, our survival does not need to depend on anyone else. 

I guess you can say our destiny is in our own hands. We are not only blessed to live on such fertile soil, we enjoy a peaceful country relatively sheltered from bloody wars, strife and troubles of our neighbours near and far. 

What’s more, our culture of respect, love, va fealoa’i, and our Christian values provide the pillars upon which we stand as a nation. They are unique and they set us apart from the rest of the world. 

When it comes to education, we can hold our own against the rest of the world. More and more Samoans have graduated from tertiary institutions all over the world with some of the most prestigious qualifications in the world.  

And we don’t need to tell you about our sporting achievements. They are written everywhere for the world to see.

These are things to be proud of. 

And we deserve to celebrate them at this moment.

But ladies and gentlemen, let’s not be complacent.  

While we bask in the glory of our achievements as a people and a nation, we should acknowledge that there are real issues in paradise, which we believe should be at the forefront of our national conversation. Today rather than later.

Yes, it’s wonderful to know that we are blessed but there is no doubt in this writer’s mind the leaders of this country have got a lot of work to do. 

It involves the sorting out of such serious problems as beggars on the streets, poverty, child labour, rape, incest, drugs, abuse of women and children, thefts, robberies, the deadly wave of non-communicable diseases and so forth. 

Think about those young boys and girls who are on the streets every night, every day? Would they be there if they did not need to be? Would their parents have been so ruthless as to push them out there if they had a choice?

We are a wonderful country with many wonderful people who have achieved magnificent things. 

But when we peel away the top layers of life in Samoa, you will find that these problems are getting worse and they demand that we pay serious attention to them with the idea of addressing them once and for all. 

What do you think? Have a blessed Independence Day holiday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 02 June 2016, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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