Two men make history in Samoa (+photos)

By Cherelle Jackson

Malo lava from Samoa, well this is a much delayed update from Samoa which naturally means that much has happened on this rock of ours.

Last week saw two historical events occur in Samoa, the election of the His Highness Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi as the new Head of State of Samoa and bestowment of the Malietoa title onto Fa'amausili Papali'i Moli Malietoa the son of the late Head of State of Samoa, Malietoa Tanumafili II.

The new Head of State for Samoa, His Highness Tuiatua and his wife, her Highness Masiofo Filifilia Tamasese will be officially sworn in today at Parliament.

Tuiatua is the son of the late Tupua Tamasese Meaole and Noue Irene Gustava Ta'isi Nelson.

He was born on March 1st 1938 at Moto'otua in Samoa.

His Highness was educated in Marist Brothers School, Mulivai, Apia, St Patricks College, Silverstream, Welllington and Victoria University.

Tuiatua first began his career in politics in 1966 becoming an MP.

Tuiatua was Minister of Works from 1970 to 1972.

He was elected Prime Minister for two consecutive terms from 1976 to 1981.

In 1982 as MP for Anoama'a East he became the Leader of Opposition.

He continued as an MP for Anoama'a East until 2004 when he became a Membe of the Council of Deputies.

In Academia Tuiatua was Adjunct Professor for Awanuiorangi in New Zealand and later an Associate Member of the Matahauariki Institute, Waikato University.

In 2005 he became an Assessor for Samoan Language and Culture at the National University of Samoa.

He was a PhD examiner of Samoan and Pacific History for Australian National University Canberra.

Tuiatua is a former Resident Scholar of Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury, NZ.

He is also a former Resident Scholar of Pacific Studies Centre of the Australian Naitonal University.

Internationally His Higness is a former Commissioner of the South Pacific Commission in Geneva and the Oceania Representative for the Pontifical Interreligious Commission.

He is the author of various academic journals and publications, and of three books.

Tuiatua is married to Her Highness Masiofo Filifilia Imo, the daughter of a Church Minister Mauinu'uese Tofaeono of Moata'a village.

She taught at Samoa College and later on became the Assistant Director of Education at the Deparment of Education in Samoa.

She also worked as Instructional Designer in the Distance Education section of the University of the South Pacific.

His Highness Tuiatua and Her Highness Masiofo Filifilia are well known for their passion for the Samoan culture and history.

On the Malietoa front, the son of the late HOS, Fa'amausili received the title of Malietoa amongst family and friends in a cultural ceremony in the village of Malie on the island of Upolu.

The title was bestowed despite accusations of title overthrow by hereditary and cultural families of the paramount title.

According to historical cultural accounts of paramount title bestowments the nine families of Malietoa are to agree and bless the heir of the title during the ceremony.

Yesterdays ceremony was only supported by Malie and Falealili, two of the nine families.

The village of Afega as representatives of the Tuamasaga district, one of the nine families expressed their deep sadness over the title bestowal ceremony which took place yesterday morning.

"We were shocked to find out that the saofai (title bestowment ceremony) was this morning without our knowledge," High Chief Fata Pemila said yesterday.

"I was a child when the last Malietoa was made Chief and I saw with my own eyes the cultural protocols that are to be observed during such ceremonies," he said.

According to Fata, the ten Crowns (tribal heads) of the Tuamasaga are to be present on the right hand side of the new Malietoa during the ceremony to give their blessings.

"The Tuamasaga is the keeper of peace and preserver of the Sacredness of this title, without the presence of the Tuamasaga, the title cannot be bestowed in its full cultural meaning," Fata said.

"We have to regroup and another meeting has to be called, we need to settle matters, whatever the descendants of Malietoa decide, we will go with," Fata said yesterday.

Afega has agreed to "keep the peace" by consulting all those part to the title and then making a decision after.

"We want to do what is right, what is culturally observant and historically correct and if that means we will end up in court, than so be it," Fata said yesterday.

More than three petitions have been filed to the Lands and Titles Court challenging the validity and legality of title bestowment, but for now Fa'amausili is the only holder of Malietoa title in Samoa.

The two events have dominated the news in Samoa thus silencing the usually bustling coconut wireless from the villages.

So from Samoa today, manuia le aso.

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