On top of all else, insist on transparency, accountability and good governance

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

What a glorious day it was yesterday. From dawn to dusk, we couldn’t have asked for a better day and better conditions to enjoy the celebration of another year added to our journey as a politically independent nation. 

Fifty-six years ago at Mulinu’u, the first flag raising ceremony was held. How can we forget the sight of the late Malietoa Tanumafili II and the late Tupua Tamasese Meaole jointly hoisting Samoa’s flag of freedom? 

Yesterday, the celebration had shifted to the front of the Government building at Matagialalua, for the second year in a row, since the Parliament building is being renovated.

There, we saw thousands of Samoans lining up to be part of the special occasion. From excited young children who got up early in the morning to some of the oldest members of the community from all across Samoa, they all came together to play their part. Then there were the entertainers who did a fantastic job despite the swelling heat. 

We also witnessed our special guests for this year including the Ulu o Tokelau, Afega Gaualofa, Governor of American Samoa, Lolo Matalasi Moliga, President of Fiji, Jioji Konousi Konrote and the President of Nauru, Baron Waqa, thoroughly enjoying themselves. As they begin to make their way home today, we want to thank them for making the time to celebrate with us.

Being politically independent means a lot to us. Indeed, we are a nationalistic lot. Yes we may have different views, beliefs and we might disagree on a few issues now and then but when it comes to matters that are close to the heart, such as the celebration of our ancestors’ fight to gain independence, we all share the same passion, vigour and pride.

And once more, such a display of pride in ourselves, culture and country was strongly evident. But the celebration was not confined to Beach Road and Apia. There were mini celebrations right across the country with reunions of sorts organised here and there. Families gathered, church groups united and so forth.

What’s most wonderful about these celebrations is that they are held in such remarkably peaceful conditions. 

Despite the challenges and problems with law and order from time to time, the fact that Samoa remains peaceful, allowing us to celebrate is something many people around the world can only dream of. 

Which speaks of the fact that we are a blessed people. We are not only blessed to live on such fertile soil, we enjoy a peaceful country relatively sheltered from bloody wars, strife and troubles of our neighbours near and far. 

What’s more, our culture of respect, love, va fealoa’i, and our Christian values provide the pillars upon which we stand as a nation. They are unique and they set us apart from the rest of the world. 

When it comes to education, we can hold our own against the rest of the world. More and more Samoans have graduated from tertiary institutions all over the world with some of the most prestigious qualifications in the world. And we don’t need to tell you about our sporting achievements. They are written everywhere for the world to see. As a people, these are things to be proud of. 

But there is still much work to be done.

During the celebration yesterday, the message from the Head of State, His Highness Tuimalealiifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II is worth thinking about.

“Idolatry and all forms of lawlessness and the lustrous pleasures of the cosmos are an abomination in the eyes of the Lord,” he reminded. “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.”

Fair enough. 

He continued: “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.”

Well perhaps he should have elaborated a little bit more. From our standpoint, idolatry and lawlessness happen not just because people have ignored God, but they also naturally follow what their leaders are doing. Which means if the leaders act like they don’t need God – and only use empty rhetoric to justify their actions – the people they are leading will naturally follow.

Which means that on top of saying that we must allow God to guide us, leaders should also be prepared to walk the talk. That involves walking out those critical principles such as accountability, transparency and good governance which is the stuff our leaders of today should insist on without ceasing. 

Have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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