Older the wiser, Fonoti takes on election challenge
Age is only a number. It is certainly not an issue for 75-year-old, Fonoti Menefata, who will be contesting the Anoama'a East seat in next year's General Election.
He will be up against incumbent M.P. and H.R.P.P. Whip, Alai'asa Sepulona Moananu.
But the St. Joseph's College alumni who will be contesting under the Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) banner is not fazed.
Fonoti who hails from Faleapuna says running in the election has been a dream of his from the beginning, but due to legal requirements, it is his first time being able to compete in the political ring.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Fonoti said should he be given the opportunity to serve his constituency, his number one priority will be to seek more opportunities in terms of agriculture and education.
Without wanting to discredit the efforts of the current Member of Parliament, Fonoti says "more could be done."
"We do not see what we discuss in the monthly meetings that needs to be improved. I live in our village and serve here but it seems nothing we say we need comes through," he said.
"And now that it's so close to the General Election, they just started waking up to come and do something, and yet it has been years since they've been on the seat."
Fonoti, who is also on the President of the Parent Teacher Association and a member of the School Committee, noted that the schools of the constituency need an upgrade. The facilities and surrounding utilities need to be improved, he said.
He noted that in terms of agriculture, Faleapuna lacks land for the families to work on.
Fonoti said one of his goals is to lobby for lands to be given for the families of Faleapuna to cultivate.
"As you may know, Faleapuna faces the sea and behind Faleapuna is another village. There is nowhere for our people to work and have proper plantations to make a living," Fonoti said.
"We see so much land elsewhere which is given to the Chinese to work on like Falevao, yet there are people of Samoa who do not have anywhere to work on. But this goes for the rest of our constituency too."
Fonoti will be running against Human Rights Protection Party members, Ala'iasa and Minister of Police and Prisons, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt.
Asked about his age and whether or not it could be a hindering factor to the service he wishes to provide should he win the seat, he said: "The older, the wiser."
"There is a theory that if you are five years older than someone, then you are 50 per cent wiser than that person," he said confidently.
"Yes, Samoa has grown and there are many who have graduated with many certificates. But it is the big boys who have the Fa'aSamoa knowledge to effectively serve. There is the younger generation, smarter to take the initiative, while the old people advises."
He is married to Sasa'e Fonoti Menefata. They have eight children.
Asked why he had chosen F.A.S.T., Fonoti said it is in the name. "We have faith in God."
He added that F.A.S.T.'s goals align with his personal opposition to the three bills currently before Government proposing immense changes to the Lands and Titles Court.