Savaia rejoice in harvest at Talomua Festival
COVID-19 restrictions have not slowed down the people of Savaia Lefaga from doing what they love.
On Friday, the residents of the village largely credited for the first Talomua Festival came out to showcase their agricultural products and handicrafts they laboured over during the year.
After the annual event was canceled last year to comply with the measles epidemic restrictions, villagers of Savaia Lefaga were happy to finally show off their produce again. Men, women, and children gathered around the village Committee house to boast about their harvest and compare the fruits.
The village Talomua Committee organised cash prizes for the person that harvested the biggest produce from each crop amongst other awards to encourage the villagers to work the land.
For this year, the Committee invited the church ministers from the different denominations of the village to inspect the crops that won the prizes.
A member of the Talomua Committee, Tusanilefaia’ao Iosefatu Reti said it has been 21 years since Savaia continued to hold the annual programme.
The event has been canceled twice since due to the aftermath of Cyclone Evan in 2012 and again in 2019 to comply with the state of emergency orders for the measles epidemic.
“Our homes were damaged and our crops were ruined,” said Tusani about the cancellation in 2012.
“We were also affected by the measles last year and the Committee agreed we had to cancel again to abide by the orders from the Government...”
According to Tusani many villages have tried to hold their own Talomua but none could maintain it and do what the village has done for more than 20 years.
He said this is mainly because some relied on government funds and others did not have the crops but instead bought produces from the market to showcase as their own.
This makes Savaia different, he said, because the Committee goes out to inspect the plantations to see where the produce are being harvested.
The village depends heavily on exporters and the local markets to sell their taro and there was certainly plentiful on the field during its annual event.
Compared to previous years, Tusani said the produce from the villagers this year was a lot more compared to previous years.
The Talomua theme to be courageous and don’t give up.
The senior matai said the theme is fitting with the current situation faced by the country and the world from the covid-19 pandemic.
"Many have used the pandemic as an excuse to sit around and become lazy," he said.
He recalled that in 2011 there were suggestions to stop the event to give the villagers a break.
But Tusani said they were reminded that giving up is something that the devil would want and "no one died from working hard in their plantation".
With that in mind, the village council still pushed through with the event to date.
“Look at the fruits of our hard work,” he said.
“A person becomes poor if they don’t get up and plant taro.
“If you work hard the Lord will help you and reward you...these are the signs of the Lord's continuous blessing upon us…”
Tusani acknowledged the villagers and the Talomua Committee for their ongoing support. He also thanked the church leaders for their prayers.
Savaia initially launched the Talomua programme in 1998 to encourage villagers to work the land to ensure food security for families and the people for today and future generations.
The initiative has since been adopted by the Government and other villages to promote agriculture development.
The villagers also brought out the giant clams from the Savaia Marine Reserve that was later distributed to guests at the event.