Governor Solf: A trip down memory lane

It’s hard to imagine it wasn’t that long ago the independent State of Samoa was a subordinate to several world powers. 

From 1900-1914, Samoa was the last German colonial acquisition.  

At that time, the man known as Governor Wilhelm Solf was a key figure in Samoa. Solf was the first German Governor of Samoa and took office in 1900 until 1910.  

During his reign, Governor Solf was remembered as a fair man and is accredited for unifying the Land and Titles Court. He even had his first-born child in Samoa and named her So’omalelagi as a sign of great respect for the Samoan culture.  

Yesterday, the memories of Governor Solf in Samoa were revived at Malifa where the National Museum of Samoa welcomed his granddaughter, Julie Solf-Ennis.

She was on island for a day as she came ashore on the Queen Elizabeth II that was docked at Matautu. 

She had been planning a trip to Samoa for ages but always found it difficult as she now resides with her husband in Washington, D.C.  

“I’ve always wanted to come to Samoa because my grandfather was here for ten years. It’s not an easy place to get to, “ she said.  

“We were going to come two years ago but that didn’t work and we found this ship that was coming here but only for one day. 

“I just wanted to see about my grandfather.”

Mrs. Solf-Ennis said she was to meet with Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa.

“I believe her great grandfather probably knew my grandfather.”

Mrs. Solf-Ennis recounted some of her grandfather’s attributes.

 “He also took the side of the Samoans when the plantation owners were becoming very demanding. 

He would actually take sides of the Samoans and talking to the gentlemen at the University one of the most important things that my grandfather was involved in was the situation that allowed Samoans to own land and keep land within their families.  I feel very proud of that. 

“For me its a source of pride his time here.  I know colonial times were difficult but I think he was a very fair and liberal man.”

According to Mrs. Solf-Ennis, Governor Solf had a challenging role. 

“He had his hands full with the different groups of Samoans who were interested in being the leader.  A lot of negotiations went on but he was a very principled man for his day.  He was very liberal.”

One of the most bemusing things Governor Solf did during his time was his refusal to install troops on island and proved that everything can be dealt with in a civil manner.  

“He wouldn’t have troops on the island and if there was any trouble he dealt with it through negotiation.  He didn’t believe in using force and through out his career it meant that he was often going against the tide that was happening in the world and in Germany.”

At the Museum of Samoa in Malifa yesterday, Mrs. Ennis Solf was armed with pictures of her families time in Samoa and records of Solf’s time in Samoa.  

She was accompanied by the Swiss General Consulate, Marco and Maria- Ines Kappenberger who were all fascinated at the well documented period of German rule in Samoa.  She left Samoa last night.

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