S.J.C’s 70th excitement, fautasi legacy and dignity of Tama Aiga
What a week. For a small country, our people sure know how to keep ourselves occupied amidst the gloomy climate imposed by the coronavirus pandemic border closures and the challenges it brings.
The action-packed day on Friday in the Apia Township where there was certainly a sense of excitement, celebration and lots of positive vibes was a reminder of how there is never really a dull moment in small Samoa. There was something for everyone on Beach Road.
Down at the Mulivai Cathedral for example, hundreds of former and present students of St. Joseph's College and St. Mary’s College had gathered for a special mass to commemorate S.J.C’s 70th anniversary. The service was part of multiple events during the past few weeks where past and present pupils reunited, reacquainted and fellowshipped to reflect on their journey thus far, with an eye on the future of the school.
The President of the Marist Brothers Old Pupils Association (M.B.O.P.A.), Tuatagaloa Aumua Leung Wai and his team of organisers had worked very hard to ensure the celebration was a success. And they deserve to be commended for making it happen especially given the challenges before the world today. We can only imagine how much bigger this celebration could have been if the borders were opened but it is what it is and they did what was possible given the circumstances.
The role of S.J.C. and the Marist education system at large in the development of Samoa and nurturing countless leaders in Government, businesses, churches and many other fields is unquestionable and impressive.
What’s even more remarkable is that even after students walk out of those school gates; they keep that “Malisi spirit” alive so that no matter where in the world they may be, they will always be loud and proud about where they came from.
It is that spirit that fosters the success of events such as the S.J.C’s 70th which of course took a new meaning this year with the Fautasi Challenge. We cannot talk about S.J.C’s 2020 celebration and not mention the history-making Fautasi o Toa team, which has provided a new dynamic to conversations about women empowerment and gender equality. The effort by Vaimasenu’u Zita Martel, her crew and everyone involved in getting that boat on the water, must be acknowledged and appreciated. The idea that an all-female crew conquered three other men’s teams and came so close to winning, should be celebrated. It is certainly advancing a new legacy and another reminder that “e au le inailau a tina ma tama’ita’i” indeed.
Elsewhere on Beach Road on Friday, legacy was certainly a word used quite often at another gathering also attended by hundreds and hundreds of people from all over Upolu. The occasion was the official launch of the Fa’atuatua ile Atua Samoa Ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party at the E.F.K.S. hall, following a similar event in Savai’i a few days ago.
With the General Election just over five months away, F.A.S.T. – with the support and presence of former Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, have definitely upped their game providing a new dimension to this voting season. This is arguably the most formidable challenge in opposition the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) has encountered in many, many years.
In scenes we have not witnessed before in recent memory, the crowds gathering at the F.A.S.T. rallies certainly tell a story. Besides the audience, the passion with which key figures like leader, La’auli Leuatea Schmidt, and Fiame are driving their message for change is refreshing to say the least.
As expected from any political party, they are offering a lot of election promises, which must be treated with objectivity, care and caution. As politicians, this is the time we expect them to promise heaven and earth and given the opportunity provided by emotions, circumstances and the chance for change; they will throw caution to the wind.
But there is one aspect of their campaign so far where we should put politics aside and think about very carefully for the sake of the future and the unborn generations of this nation.
During both rallies in Savai’i and Upolu, La’auli repeatedly highlighted the need to restore the dignity that once rested with the Tama Aiga families, especially the privilege to be selected for the Council of Deputies and ultimately the Head of State.
F.A.S.T. is also fighting to restore the respect this nation once accorded to the Head of State and Church Ministers when it comes to the Government’s tax laws.
Of course everyone will have an opinion about these issues. These are highly controversial and sensitive matters that have been well debated over the years.
But it follows that from our standpoint, nothing appears sacred in Samoa anymore. Everything from families, villages, churches and cultural treasurers are being turned upside down at the demand of a Government that has been in power for nearly 40 years now.
Since they tore down that old Parliament fale at Mulinu’u several years ago, it set off a domino of legacy-defining decisions that has continued to sweep over this country while we can only look on with fear, sadness and trepidation.
Where will it all end? And what does the future hold for the young generation of Samoa? What can we do now?
Whatever the answer may be, we want to humbly remind that “o Samoa o le atunu’u tofi.” Think about it!
Have a peaceful Sunday, God bless!