Samoa paused to reflect on the past, assess the developments of today and look to the future with much optimism yesterday.
The occasion was the grand celebration of Samoa’s 56th Independence Anniversary – which was celebrated with different events held across the country.
For Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, the celebration was an opportunity to remind Samoa about her dependence on God.
“We look to the future with unwavering faith that despite the difficulties we all face as independent countries. God is in control. He will continue to direct our paths if we continue to abide in Him,” he said.
Looking at the past, Tuilaepa believes there is much to celebrate.
“We have come a long way as a sovereign nation,” he said.
“The government of Samoa today echoes the dream of our forefathers from 56 years ago - to shoulder the responsibility of self-governance and a destiny firmly placed in the hands of the leaders and our people.
“We owe everything to God for keeping Samoa stable, peaceful and harmonious. We have had our struggles and difficulties and have learned that we do not have all the answers. That is why we need each other.”
And now looking to the future, he believes “durable partnerships” are vital to collectively respond to the daunting challenges of being small with scarce resources.
“Climate change, transnational organized crimes, cybercrimes, and alarming rates of non-communicable diseases require closer social and economic relations and shared responsibility between our countries,” he said.
“As stewards of the world’s biggest, most peaceful and abundant ocean continent, we draw strength and confidence from our culture and traditions, and our Christian values that bind Pacific peoples and communities together.
“Our vision for the Pacific as a region of peace, security, social inclusion and prosperity calls for stronger regional cooperation, so that our people can lead free, healthy and productive lives.”
Tuilaepa was among thousands of proud Samoans in front of the Government building yesterday where the celebrations took place.
In attendance were the Head of State, his Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II and the Masiofo Her Highness Fa’amausili Leinafo.
They were joined by international guests including American Samoa’s Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga, First Lady Cynthia Malala Moliga; Titular Head of Tokelau, Afega Gaualofa and Kilita Gaualofa; President of Fiji, Jioji Konousi and Sarote Konrote; President of Nauru, Baron Divavesi and Louisa Waqa.
In his address, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano noted that Samoa is a Christian nation founded upon God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“If our God had not built and guarded our nation, then our Forefathers, our leaders, our people, and all of us would have laboured in vain to pursue and to realize self government and sovereignty of Samoa,” he said (read his speech in full).
The Head of State also had a message about the challenges of today.
“If we have been focusing on negativity and fault finding, and weaknesses or failures, I humbly appeal to you all that we make a collective effort to make our Samoa a country truly founded on God, the source of all the blessings we need,” he said.
“Idolatry and all forms of lawlessness and the lustrous pleasures of the cosmos are an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. When we do not allow the Lord to govern our lives and communities, then we have problems such as what happened early this week between the youths of two villages.
“I thank the Clergy and the councils of chiefs of the two villages concerned, the Government, the Commissioner of Police and the Police Service for the immediate rectification of the matter, thereby proving that we can reach an amicable solution when our Government, the Clergy, and our traditional Leaders stand together.”
Lastly, he highlighted the importance of prayer.
“I am aware that many of our people do pray for our Leaders and for peace, security and prosperity of our country. Our leaders also pray for God’s guidance in their work.
“Hence, it is my firm belief that if all citizens of Samoa continue to pray fervently for God’s will to be done for our country, we will witness supernatural blessings upon our Government, people and land. A praying country and government is always guaranteed spiritual victory, peace and authority.
“We need peace in Samoa, peace in the Pacific Region, and peace in the world. Let us also pray for peace in Israel, from which the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ has come to the world.”
The raising of the flag was carried out by Member of the Council of Deputies, Le Mamea Ropati Mualia, followed by a 21-gun salute.
The parade lasted more than an hour.
More than 70 groups took part led by the Ministry of Police and the famous Police Band.