Happy New Year, Samoa!
It has been an incredibly challenging year. That much we cannot deny.
Today as we stand on the verge of saying goodbye to 2019 and welcoming 2020, we need to pause, sit down and take some time to look back, reflect and appreciate the challenges we have been through.
Each and every one of us has a story to tell. We have all walked our own paths, fought our own battles, claimed some victories and in some cases wallowed in bitter defeat.
We’ve laughed and rejoiced in our moments of sweet triumph. We have also cried and mourned our losses. But that’s life, isn’t it? It goes without saying that problems and challenges make us stronger. They are par for the course. In other words, wherever there are mountains, there will inevitably be valleys — for the simple reason that we cannot have mountains if it weren’t for the valleys, just as we cannot have victories without fights.
What’s important is that on the last day of 2019, we are here. And as we reflect, we accept that this year will be mostly remembered for the lives lost to the tragedy of the measles epidemic. The Samoa Observer’s decision to choose “The Health Worker” as our Person of the Year reflects the fact.
The hosting of the Pacific Games under enormously challenging circumstances, where Samoa only had a couple of years to pull everything together, stands out as one of the highlights.
The success of the “miracle Games” once again reflected our people’s pride in themselves, their culture and what we stand for as a country. Yes we might disagree on some things, yes we argue, point fingers and call each other names now and then but at the end of the day, Samoa is a family. We unite and come together where and when it matters. And what a beautiful thing that is to see when it happens.
As far as controversies and scandals go, well there was no shortage of that. All you have to do is flick through the pages of the newspaper you are reading starting from page 19 and you will see that we had a bit of everything, the good, bad and the extremely ugly. This covered all spheres of society, from the Government, Judiciary, politics, church, villages, schools and businesses.
Violence and petty crime continue to be major concerns. Domestic violence at all levels of society does not appear to be going away in a hurry despite the increasing effort to stop it. The smuggling of drugs into Samoa as well as the discovery of local drug operations is something we should be very concerned about.
Elsewhere, Samoa continues to step up the ladder in terms of technological advances. With the acquisition of faster internet, Samoa has truly arrived in terms of the digital age. It’s true that we still have a long way to go but that’s okay, at least we are not where we were ten years ago.
With anything in life, the availability and easy access to internet comes abuse and misuse. We have seen plenty of that on social media and other internet-based platforms. It is something leaders of today will need to navigate carefully as we continue to move with the times.
On the political front, the juggernaut that is the ruling Human Rights Protection Party continues to gain power. While they have technically lost one member in La’auli Leuatea Polata’ivao under very controversial circumstances, Namuluulu Sami Leota’s victory has ensured the party remains as powerful as ever. They are in a good position to again dominate the next General Election – unless the party breaks apart from the inside.
We can go on about 2019 but we will stop here. All in all, we have memories to cherish, treasure and then some we want to forget. At this time of the year though, we need to remind ourselves that all these experiences make us better.
On the pages of this newspaper today, we celebrate with great joy the work of individuals and groups who are highlighted in this special edition. There are many more people who should be on this list. We accept that but we cannot have them all today.
Suffice to say, the stories being highlighted today are a good mix of people from all walks of life, ages and personas. Their stories are those of hard work, dedication and commitment that should be acknowledged and appreciated. As we read through them today, we here at the Samoa Observer want to extend a big thank you and fa’amalo to each and everyone.
We are thankful to the Almighty God for his guidance, protection, provision, mercies, forgiveness, eternal love and grace. As a people and a nation, we are grateful for our leaders starting from the Church leaders, Head of State, Prime Minister, Members of Parliament, business leaders, village leaders and every individual family leader, fathers, mothers and guardians.
We acknowledge with appreciation the efforts of everyone who have and continued to work through the holidays to ensure safety and convenience. We are talking about Police officers, emergency workers, health workers, shopkeepers, ferry workers and many others. Thank you for the sacrifice.
Lastly, here at the Samoa Observer, we’ve had a wonderful time serving you once again this year. In saying that, we accept that we are not perfect and we make mistakes from time to time. Still, that has not stopped us from doing the best we can to provide you, our dear reader, with the best reading experience. At this point, we also want to thank you, our dear readers, for your support.
On the last day of this year, let us be thankful. Let us continue to work hard in whatever it is we are called to do to make our families, villages, churches, communities, work places and ultimately this nation of ours a better place to live. Manuia le tausaga fou!