Samoa's newest centenarian rejoices on her birthday

Tele Semu is a mother to nine and a grandmother and great grandmother to over 50.  

But yesterday she passed another milestone in an already full life as she celebrated her hundredth birthday.

Samoa’s newest centenarian celebrated her birthday in Tufulele.

She has three children residing overseas with their own children, who were unable to join her as she blew out the candles on the cake to mark her big day due to state of emergency restrictions. 

But despite not being to realise plans for a much bigger celebration, Mrs. Semu was on Monday full of delight and reflections about the last 100 years of her life. 

She told the Samoa Observer that her birthday wish was to live longer and witness her children enjoy full lives full of blessings. 

“Firstly, I thank God for the wonderful 100 years I have lived for and I couldn’t wish for anything else on this very special day but to live longer to be with my children,” she said.

“It is my dream to see my children growing up the way I’ve been teaching them [...[ the Fa’a Samoa (the Samoan way).”

Mrs. Semu reflected on the way the country had changed since her youth. 

Culturally, Mrs. Semu laments what she describes as the slow fading of respect for Samoan tradition and culture. 

This extends to, she says, villages emphasising the importance of families’ evening services.

According to Mrs. Semu, these are essential for families to give thanks to God at day’s end. 

She attributes her longevity to her strong Christian faith, which she says has, despite declining in its broader social standing since the ‘90s, kept her living longer and stronger. 

She attributes guidance from reading the Bible to giving her new breath and thoughts guiding her to the right paths in life. 

Mrs. Semu says, unlike many young people today, she fondly recalls spending her youth in the house of her pastor, helping out wherever she could. She also cooked, worked, and fed and cared for her parents in the family home of Leauvaa.

When she started her own family she changed her focus from her parents to her children – but she never stopped visiting her parents until they passed away.

Asked if she had any wisdom to impart to young people in Samoa today, the centenarian said she would counsel them to stay away from alcohol and stick to the righteous path. 

“Stick close to God,” she said. 

“Never abandon your relationship with God for he has the key to a bright future for you.

“I have experienced how wonderful life is for 100 years and I’m telling you now you will [eventually] realise [benefits of maintaining] your faith in God and stay away from the temptations of the modern world we’re living in today.”

Other than perpetuating her faith in God, Mrs. Semu also believes exercise has helped her grow stronger and live longer. 

Mrs. Semu is not allowing age to slow her down. She maintains a strict daily routine: every morning she picks rubbish, weeds her garden and exercises daily outside of her house after breakfast. 

The strength to keep active, she says, comes from her children and grandchildren with whom she lives with at Tufulele.

“I thank God for the gift of children because, although I am very much alive and strong, it encourages me to live seeing them looking after me especially at times when I need them the most,” she said.

“Lucky are all mothers who have children. They get to experience the wonderful life they provide us with.

“It’s on those mothers who do not teach their children the right way if they turn out living away from respect and love for their families.”



Bg pattern light


Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?